I’ve linked to this thread several times because it is amazing from top to bottom. But let me home in on these two sections:
Exit defense minister who fought crony oligarch arms dealers, enter guy who knew how to “get along.”
As a result, Kamil Galeev tweets that “Shoygu [...] pandered to old military establishment [and] stopped arguing with army suppliers about the equipment cost and quality.” [Emphasis mine.]
The cost of the equipment, whatever. Defense contractors will bilk. It’s what they all do. But the quality of the equipment is a different matter. During peacetime, no one cared. The myth of the Russian Bear was enough to strike fear in the hearts of all potential adversaries. But now that they’re locked in a war with an enemy willing to punch back, all that corruption is coming home to roost. Breaking Defense’s Kyiv correspondent, speaking to Ukrainian intelligence sources (which because of shared history, supposedly retain close contact with many of their Russian counterparts), reinforces this point.
Those who have watched the evolution—or rather the deterioration—of Russia’s military and the defense-industrial base that supports it are pointing out that the poor performance of Moscow’s forces has been a process unfolding for years now.
Today “Russia has no more Kalibr missiles left in strategic reserve,” said a Ukrainian defense enterprise director familiar with the program, “but that is not the end of their troubles. The guidance system, the seeker head and other critical modules [in the missile’s front end] contain about 60% imported electronic components. None of these will be available after the long list of sanctions being imposed on Russia now, so it is hard to see where any new missiles would ever come from.” [...]
The Kalibr is not the only program in trouble. One Ukrainian intelligence officer tells Breaking Defense that there are “numerous shortages of [Russian] weapon systems. The famous KBM plant in Tula and other factories controlled by longtime Putin allies the Rothenberg brothers are unable to physically fulfil orders for infantry weapons and ammunition.
“Weapons that are officially on the books and should be available for delivery to active-duty units are missing and the next production runs will be complete only in three to four months,” the officer said. Even that estimate assumes that the raw material inputs have not been pilfered as well and are still available—if not, the time frame could be considerably longer.
The end result? Equipment that breaks down at its most basic level. Check out these two threads (one and two) on how tires are failing on Russian vehicles. When I was in Cuba a few years back, I was able to buy cigars from a guy who worked at the official state factory making them. Everyone pilfered a certain amount, which they would then sell on the black market. That’s what’s clearly happening here: the Rothenbergs and other arms manufacturers pilfer; the steel-, iron-, and component-manufacturers pilfer; the plant managers pilfer; the employees pilfer; the unit commanders pilfer; the supply officers pilfer; the soldiers pilfer. It’s a wonderful grift. Everyone benefits! Well, except when war is called. Suddenly, all that equipment that was supposedly in the field turns out to have been an illusion, long sold off for Italian villas and bottles of vodka. That’s likely why we haven’t seen much of a Russian Air Force in action. I bet they can’t even get their birds in the air.
The poor 18-year-old conscripts dragged off to a war they didn’t ask for get f’ed as a result. But it’s hard to feel sorry for anyone else.