The Russians have had a not-so-good showing in their invasion of Ukraine for the past three months. Much of that can be attributed to wrong planning, relying on conscripts, and unmaintained military equipment, to name a few reasons. However, another issue plagues the Russian military that has prevented them from being successful in Ukraine, and that is using old, unmaintained guns and other weapons to fight a modern war – today’s culprit is an antique cannon.

We’ve seen a lot of Russian antics throughout this war, no doubt, but we believe this one takes the cake. Recent images of an antique cannon being used by Russian troops to guard their positions in the Ukrainian city of Kherson had been circulating on social media and Telegram, leading many to not just be shocked but also laugh at the sheer absurdity of the photograph.

Now, with that being said, we would like to inform you that Russia has been the subject of ridicule and memes on social media due to its lackluster military performance in Ukraine. It is completely possible that this photograph is a staged joke, or it can be something that’s really happening. SOFREP cannot verify whether the photographs are really from Kherson, so kindly take this article with a bit of an open mind.

First, we saw the photograph from “Status-6,” which cited a Telegram user as its source. Status-6 is a pretty respectable source of information and has been actively monitoring the events in Ukraine, particularly the equipment used and attacks that have been occurring for the past months.

The photograph seems to be taken at an industrial complex, with a Russian Rosgvardia (the Kremlin’s national guard) standing at a checkpoint. To his right side is an antique cannon held down by a sandbag. It’s wheeled as you may expect from this older artillery, so we assume that the soldier can move it around as they would please. We are unable to determine which artillery piece it is, but needless to say, it’s something you’d see from Pirates of the Caribbean or something from the Civil War. We can tell it’s also not a statue or a commemoration piece as it’s not really bolted down or fixed on a pedestal, so it was definitely moved there. It appears to be 12 lb artillery piece from the Napoleanic Wars.

Monument to the defenders of Smolensk in the battle with the French troops on August 4-5, 1812 (obelisk to the defenders of Smolensk in the Patriotic War of 1812): Central Park of Culture and Leisure, Smolensk, Smolensk Region (Ghirlandajo, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons). Source:
Monument to the defenders of Smolensk in the battle with the French troops on August 4-5, 1812 (obelisk to the defenders of Smolensk in the Patriotic War of 1812): Central Park of Culture and Leisure, Smolensk, Smolensk Region (GhirlandajoCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

To be fair, we also reported on the Ukrainians using decoy mannequins to try and fool the Russians, and it’s not really a new tactic for those who are familiar with the Ghost Army of World War II. So it may very well be the case that the Russians are using the same tactic where they’d put a dummy (no, that’s not a pun, but it can be if the shoe fits) on a street corner such as this one, and try to scare off the Ukrainians who can likely try and advance into Kherson. We’re not sure if the Ukrainians are moving in on Kherson, though there has been a small number of counterattacks in the region. Furthermore, they may be trying to pass off the cannon as some sort of anti-armor weapon? But it’s fairly obvious that it’s not with just a glance – maybe it could fool those that are not really familiar with military equipment, but that’s very unlikely.

That being said, we’re not at all sure what it is exactly for, to be honest. If it can be determined that it was actually functioning and the Russians actually put it there, then we would be really surprised as this artillery piece is seen to be tremendously old. But don’t count it out since if it were actually able to fire, this weapon could still kill a soldier. That being said, firing one of these old cannons requires a bit of technical skill to ensure you don’t overcharge it with powder and blow the thing up.  To fire it with a charge of homemade grapeshot, they would need some quantity of black powder, which they could scavenge from bullet cartridges, and they could use the bullets as the shot. They need some cotton wadding to separate the powder from the shot and they would also need to be able to pour some of the powder down the priming vent into the ignition chamber.  Finally, they would need to fashion a match of some kind to touch off the charge and then hope it doesn’t blow up and kill everyone within 50 ft of it. If it doesn’t explode, it will roll back 5 or 6 feet from the recoil so you don’t want to be behind it either.

The picture doesn’t show anything that looks like powder or ammunition nearby or any ramrods or sponge heads used to load the piece, so we suspect it may just be there for intimidation.

We know that Russian conscripts had been using old Mosin-Nagant rifles (and yes, they still do pack a punch), but we believe everybody can agree that the Russian forces can certainly equip their soldiers with something better, right?

Even their own conscripts were reported to be saying that they did not like using these rifles as they described it to be “like we’re fighting with World War Two muskets,” adding, “I hate the war. I don’t want it, curse it. Why are they sending me into a slaughterhouse?”

Another conscript was reported to be saying that he did not know how to fire an automatic weapon, which does reveal the lack of formal training they had. It is like they were just thrown into the fight without much to offer.

A previous report from us also revealed that many of their conscripts were increasingly frustrated at how the invasion was going. The majority of them wanted to leave the battlefield and go home as they were starving and were not equipped aptly to fight Ukrainians.

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“Know the truth! The Russian Ministry of Defense has no idea about us or what we’re doing here. We’ve been thrown into the sh**,” a conscript said.

A Mosin-Nagant Rifle held by a Russian soldier (TASS via Su-57 5th Gen Fighter). Source:
A Mosin-Nagant Rifle held by a Russian soldier (©Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS via Su-57 5th Gen Fighter/Twitter)

“They illegally took us out of Russian territory without weapons, without documents, without f****ing anything. We’re just normal people!” another conscript said. They also claim that they have only been given bolt action rifles to go up against GRADS, artillery, and mortars.

“Our rifles are from the 1940s! They don’t f***ing fire! They’re sending f***ing ordinary students into war.”

The Russians seem to be deploying a hodgepodge of both modern and old weapons in Ukraine. They’ve deployed their experimental T-80UM2 tanks to Ukraine only to get destroyed, their hypersonic Kinzhal missiles, those Mosin-Nagants, and the more recent deployment, Russia’s Terminator tank. We know they’ve been running out of missiles and weapons to throw at the Ukrainians, but if this antique cannon is determined to be there legitimately, then it definitely is evidence that they’ve run out of weapons. All we can say is that antique cannon deserves to be in a museum.