About 9 months ago, namely on February 24, 2022, the world around us changed dramatically. The era of diplomatic agreements was replaced by an era of armed and aggressive confrontation.
The world, which seemed never to experience the horrors of the World Wars, again had to learn about the bombing of peaceful cities, the mass invasion of foreign troops into the territory of an independent European country, the murder and torture of civilians and millions of refugees.
The reason for another world shock was, and this is not surprising, the country that has called itself the most “peaceful” and “friendly to all” for many years – the Russian Federation.
Having invented (or perhaps believing in his own fabrications) fantastic reasons for the attack, President Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of the territory of independent Ukraine by Russian troops.
Intending to carry out a blitzkrieg, the Russian military launched a missile and bomb attack in the morning of February 24 and brought in tank columns from the territory of Belarus, eastern regions and from the territory of the previously occupied Crimea. But heavy losses in equipment, weapon and manpower, which the aggressor received as a result of strong resistance of the Ukrainian people, forced Putin to abandon his previous plans.
The failure in planning the so-called special military operation revealed huge systemic miscalculations in strategic and operational-tactical planning, personnel and mobilization policy of the Russian Armed Forces, the work of the entire Russian military-industrial complex, etc.
Having suffered huge losses and after the low defeats on the battlefield, the terrorist country was forced to change the tactics of warfare, focusing on the missile strikes on civilian infrastructure. And the consequences of this tactic are dozens, and possibly hundreds of civilian casualties.
The very fact of using such powerful weapons against civilian Ukrainians is nothing but modern terrorism at the state level. In total, since the full-scale aggression of Russia against Ukraine, about 4.5 thousand missiles of various systems and types have been launched.
It will be interesting to consider in more detail the main types of missiles used by the Russian Federation.
|Missile||Type||In service||Operational range||Warhead Weight|
|Kh-22||Air-launched cruise missile||from 1967||up to 600 km||1000 kg|
|Kh-55||Air-launched cruise missile||from 1983||up to 2500 km||410 kg|
|Kh-59||Air-launched cruise missile||from 1980||up to 290 km||320 kg|
|Kh-555||Air-launched cruise missile||from 2004||up to 2500 km||410 kg|
|Kh-101||Air-launched cruise missile||from 2013||up to 5500 km||400-430 kg|
|Kh-47м2 Kinzhal||Hypersonic aero-ballistic air-to-surface missile||from 2017||up to 3000 km||500 kg|
|3M-54 Kalibr||Multi-launched cruise missile||from 1994||up to 2500 km||400-500 kg|
|9K720 Iskander||Short-range ballistic missile||from 2006||up to 500 km||480-700 kg|
|S-300||Surface-to-air missile systems||from 1978||about 40 km||150 kg|
|OTR-21 Tochka U||Tactical ballistic missile||from 1976||70-120 km||160 kg|
The nomenclature is quite wide and you can even see relatively modern weapons, but the bulk of missile strikes are old Soviet-made missiles.
The Minister of Defense of Ukraine states that Russia has used 2\3 of its relatively high-precision modern missiles, but it is difficult to estimate the stockpile of missile weapons because this information is not public and Russia tries to hide it further.
Experts believe that Russia may have about 7,000 short- and medium-range missiles (up to 5,500 km), but most of the high-precision missiles were used in the first months of the invasion of Ukraine. It would seem that such a giant arms exporter should not have any difficulties in replenishing stocks of this powerful deadly weapon, because the Soviet school of rocketry has a long history.
But practice shows otherwise. A detailed analysis revealed more than 450 foreign-made components (from the United States, South Korea, Japan, and European countries) in Russian weapons, Reuters writes concerning the Royal United Services Institute. “Russian weapons, which are critically dependent on Western electronics, have led to the deaths of thousands of Ukrainians,” said Jack Watling, a ground warfare specialist at RUSI.
For example, the X-101 cruise missile has as many as 31 components manufactured by Intel Corporation and Xilinx (owned by AMD). Cruise missile 9M727 (“Iskander”) also has 31 elements manufactured by the American companies Texas Instruments Inc and Advanced Micro Devices Inc (AMD.O), as well as Cypress Semiconductor, which belongs to the German Infineon AG (IFXGn.DE). The same electronics were found in the 3M14 (Kalibr), Kh-59, Kh-101 missiles, as well as in the 9M544 Tornado-S MLRS.
A hodgepodge of components from different manufacturers is often one of the reasons for not very accurate hits. Errors made by non-standard GPS units when processing satellite signals can ultimately lead to the cruise missile missing the target by a large margin.
How and when these components got into Russian weapons is a topic for a separate study, because Russia has been under strict sanctions since 2014. Nevertheless, the restrictions imposed by the international community force Russia to seek alternative approaches (by the way, much less effective) to replenish its missile arsenal.
It seems that Russia is unable to produce a single piece of military equipment, hardware, or weapons on its own. Foreign-made electronics are found in communications and surveillance equipment, armored vehicles, anti-aircraft missile systems, electronic warfare systems, and UAVs.
Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), in its report, points out the types of Russian equipment and weapons, as well as foreign components that were used in their production. Thus, Russians are forced to use outdated Soviet-made missiles, which have much lower accuracy.
Many people were horrified to see the footage of an old X-22 missile striking a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, which cannot be called anything other than a terrorist attack, which killed dozens of civilians. And this is just one of the hundreds of examples.
Lack of electronics and micro chips force Russia to re-equip S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems for strikes on ground targets.
It should be noted that these complexes were created to hit air targets high in the sky and have extremely low accuracy and range when firing at ground targets, as a result of which the civilian population of Ukrainian cities suffers. But when did Russia care about civilian casualties?
Also, the terrorist country is actively using against the Ukrainian people tactical missiles of the Soviet era “Tochka-U”, the circular accuracy of which is about 100 meters (and in fact, it can be even more).
The most horrific use of Tochka-U was the terrorist attack on the railway station in Kramatorsk, which killed 50 civilians, including children.
Moscow’s use of outdated surface-to-surface tactical missiles and converted SAMs used for strikes near the contact line is a forced measure, apparently caused by missile “hunger”.
Russia is still dependent on Western components
RUSI investigation findings show that Russian precision weapons are critically dependent on foreign microchips. We are talking about equipment from tactical radios to drones and long-range ammunition.
Back in 2019, the share of foreign electronic components in Russian goods was estimated at 80%, and even after 2014, when sanctions were imposed on the supply of defense products to Russia, Moscow was unable to switch to its production of high-precision weapons.
As practice has shown, over the past decade, the Kremlin tried to launch its program for the production of electronic components, but it failed.
The authors of the report rightly conclude that almost all of Russia’s modern military equipment depends on sophisticated electronics imported from the United States, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, Korea, Israel, China, and other countries with high-tech industries.
In some cases, these components are dual-use electronics that are not so difficult to acquire commercially. However, in many others, they are samples of military technologies, which are now in short supply in Russia. Hence the search for new technological solutions to replace Western components at the expense of China and the agreement with Iran to supply strike and reconnaissance drones.
In parallel, the Kremlin will develop “grey” schemes to obtain critical components. With Russia’s military equipment and ammunition heavily dependent on imports, and Western countries imposing new sanctions, the Russian authorities are faced with the task of determining what can be produced domestically and what comes from countries that do not adhere to Western sanctions.
According to experts, in some types of weapons, Western elements can still be replaced with imperfect electronic components of Chinese origin. In addition, we should not forget that the Russian industry uses Western components purchased in advance.
We can say for sure that Russia will not sit idly by and will try to find the necessary components in other markets, primarily in China or India, but experts are skeptical about Russia’s ability to reach production capacity in 2021. In addition, most manufacturers are integrated into the Western economy and will try to take fewer risks.
It should be mentioned that China, after Joe Biden’s statement, will be cautious about the dialogue with Russia regarding the provision of military assistance and the supply of technology and electronics for warfare, Bloomberg writes. On the other hand, China will try to stand above Russia’s war with Ukraine and use the situation to strengthen its role as a regional leader and try to play a more important role in building a new international order.
Without access to American, Israeli, European components, Russia’s military-industrial complex will be able to survive for several years using the existing stockpile. If the Russians do not have access to the Texas Instruments processor, they will use analogues. And this, in turn, can lead to a decrease in the reliability and accuracy of individual weapons.
As a result of this development, Moscow will either have to develop less effective analogues or look for loopholes to evade sanctions to acquire the necessary components.
Understanding how Russia evades sanctions to import critical technologies gives Ukraine’s allies an opportunity to limit the replacement of Russian instruments of military aggression.
For the production of missile weapons, Russia is trying to find alternative sources of supply of necessary electronics
Russia is forced to … disassemble household appliances to obtain electronics! Using its partners, in particular in Kazakhstan and Armenia, Russia is forcing local importers to increase purchases of refrigerators, washing machines and other household appliances.
For example, Kazakhstan tripled its imports of refrigerators over the last 8 months of this year (by $ 21.4M). Meanwhile, data from the Kazakh government indicate a sharp increase in the supply of refrigerators, washing machines and electric breast pumps to Russia. At first glance, this fact can only indicate the saturation of the Russian consumer market, but experts say that parts from refrigerators and washing machines appear in Russian military equipment, such as tanks, since its invasion of Ukraine.
Market experts say it is possible that components and chips from other household goods are also being used for military purposes, although mostly in relatively low-grade equipment.
Industry experts say even sophisticated Russian weapons systems are built using semiconductors found in common household goods.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said last month that the Russian military is using chips from dishwashers and refrigerators in its military equipment because it is running out of semiconductors.
Trade data show, for example, that exports of electric breast pumps from the EU to Armenia nearly tripled in the first half of 2022 compared to the previous year, despite a 4.3% drop in Armenia’s birth rate. Similarly, Kazakhstan’s demand for breast pumps from the EU grew by 633% in the first half of 2022, although the country’s birth rate fell by 8.4% over the same period.
In 2022, Kazakhstan also shipped $7.5 million worth of washing machines to Russia – against almost zero in the previous two years. Exports of refrigerators to Russia increased tenfold compared to the previous year.
Trade data show, for example, that exports of electric breast pumps from the EU to Armenia almost tripled in the first half of 2022 compared to the previous year, despite a 4.3% drop in Armenia’s birth rate. Similarly, Kazakhstan’s demand for breast pumps from the EU increased by 633% in the first half of 2022, despite the national birth rate falling by 8.4% over the same period.
Although Russia has been claiming, especially since 2014, that it is doing everything to get rid of its dependence on Western technologies, the figures for imports of household appliances show the opposite.
It seems unlikely to completely block the access of imported household appliances and components to them, given Russia’s membership in the CSTO and the Customs Union, but the introduction of additional tools to control the import of goods that may have a dual purpose would significantly complicate Moscow’s production of missile weapons.
By the way, perhaps that is why the Russian military stole household appliances from the homes of Ukrainians in the occupied territories.
Weapon from Iran and North Korea
Russia is trying to replace its medium-range missiles by asking its few “partners” to supply ready-made weapons. Ukraine is terrorized almost daily by Iranian Shahed-136 kamikaze drones (Russian designation – Geranium-2).
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that Russia has purchased 2400 such drones from Iran. Also, Ukrainian intelligence reports the purchase of more technological drones Mohajer-6 and Arash-2. Iran finally acknowledged the delivery of drones to Russia but stated that the deliveries were made before the invasion of Ukraine.
It is also speculated that Iran may also sell Russia surface-to-surface ballistic missiles that can hit targets at ranges of 300 and 700 km. What else can we talk about if Moscow is forced to ask Iran for even personal protective equipment for its military?
The shortage of artillery shells forced Putin to seek help from the last dictator of the planet – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Characteristically, North Korea is not able to produce high-tech ammunition and supplies Russia with 152-mm shells and missiles for MLRS.
“The only reason the Kremlin should be buying artillery shells or missiles from North Korea or anyone else is that Putin has been unwilling or unable to mobilize the Russian economy for war at even the most basic level,” said Frederick Kagan, a military expert at the American Enterprise Institute.
The risk remains that both Iran and North Korea are largely cut off from international trade thanks to U.S. and international sanctions, meaning neither country has much to lose by making deals with Russia.
Soviet metal in the service of the Russian army
The huge losses of artillery and armored aircraft should be of great concern to the Putin regime.
In fact, due to the unreadiness of the Russian military industry, Russian engineers are forced to replace the elements of active armor protection on relatively modern T-80 tanks with the most ordinary rubber! It should be noted that Russia also imported equipment for the production of tanks and due to the sanctions it is unlikely that it will be able to continue purchases in the future.
Moscow is forced to reanimate old T-62 and BMP-1 tanks and massively use them on the battlefield. Yes, the reserves of old iron are considerable and the Russian industry is able to breathe new life into these, in fact, museum exhibits, but the lack of modern systems of guidance, surveillance, communication and protection makes these armored vehicles easy prey for the Ukrainian military.
A considerable headache for Putin’s generals is the condition and availability of spare artillery barrels.
The massive use of barrel artillery by Russia, on the one hand, and the problems inherent in the entire industry as a whole, will lead to a shortage of weapons and ammunition by the end of 2022.
It is safe to say that Putin’s blitzkrieg plans failed precisely because of the total unpreparedness of the Russian armed forces to conduct large-scale hostilities on the territory of another state. The military-industrial complex was also not ready for a sharp increase in the needs of the Russian army, which negatively affects the timely supply and restoration of weapons and ammunition.
Moscow is forced to look for weapons and equipment abroad from rogue states, spending available foreign currency reserves in the absence of competition among suppliers, and sometimes engaging in ordinary smuggling.
Strict economic sanctions imposed by the international community, restrictions on the import of Russian energy carriers, and setting of maximum prices for their purchase should lead to the collapse of the Russian economy, the disappearance of the aggressive intentions of the Russian Federation, and the gradual de-occupation of Ukraine.