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.