Putin’s War has seen a wastage of equipment unseen since the Yom Kippur War. Over the past two months, Russia lost approximately 700 tanks and over 1200 armored vehicle. In its 1973 war, Israel suffered losses of 200 tanks. More than half the Israeli tanks that were destroyed in action in combat were returned to service and repaired on the battlefield. You can read more about the losses at Ukraine’s Tank Battleground and What the Future Holds. Russia is preparing for its next phase of the war to conquer Ukraine. It struggles with equipment shortages.
Although some equipment is possible to be pulled from storage depots for equipment, many depots are believed not to have regular maintenance. Components such as optics may have been sold off and the vehicles that remain are no longer available have been removed.
Additional photos taken at the Far East Russian military storage facility. 2/https://t.co/AiYhbZJ4mH pic.twitter.com/5Au7nMGHGz
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) January 14, 2021
Photograph taken in Siberia from another tank cemetery. 4/https://t.co/A04e2TVabF pic.twitter.com/xmhaNG9qly
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) January 14, 2021
Photographs taken at a Siberia tank graveyard. 6/https://t.co/wyMvH5kDYW pic.twitter.com/ATSb4Pw5bT
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) January 14, 2021
Pictures of the 227th military storage facility in Buryatiya. T-62Ms from the past and T-90As that could have been T-72B3s. Ready to fight WWII again. Russia imported a large number of T62Ms from storage to move them across the country in Vostok-2018. https://t.co/N3u0uxPBaW pic.twitter.com/S5KjjAswX8
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) October 21, 2018
Bringing these up to operational readiness will pose a challenge for Russia’s defense industry.
Due to the impact of sanctions it will be even more challenging.
According to reports, the largest Russian tank factory has run out of components made in foreign.
Russia’s economic sanctions may have begun to affect its military capabilities.
The country’s primary armored vehicle manufacturer appears to have run out of parts to make and repair tanks, according to a Facebook post by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Citing “available information,” it reported state-owned company Uralvagonzavod, which builds tanks such as the T-72B3, has had to temporarily cease production in Nizhny Tagil.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) March 22, 2022
In addition to Uralvagonzavod, one of the largest tank manufacturers in the world with reportedly 30,000 employees last year, the Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant has also run out of foreign-made parts.
“The specified companies specialize in the manufacturing and repair of tanks, as well as other armored equipment needed by the Russian Federation armed forces,” the General Staff wrote in its Facebook post.
As part of an escalation of sanctions, Western Allies including the United States of America and the European Union have ordered that certain components, such as microchips, be stopped from being exported to Russia.
So-called dual-use goods have been banned, since they can be employed for both military as well as civilian applications.
“Our aim is to reduce the Kremlin’s capacity to wage war on its neighbor,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen explained earlier this month.
The report comes from the Ukrainian military commandement. Yes, there will be some doubters. However, I would point out that highlighting these difficulties works against Ukraine’s interests in trying to push reluctant donors, like Germany, off the dime. So they shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. Russian media have, for example, reported the closure of the Uralvagonzavod facility and blamed it on sanctions (use Google Translate).
The lack of foreign component is also causing Russian car and truck makers to shut down. The deficiencies in Russia’s auto manufacturing have been apparent for a while as civilian vehicles from Russia are being used to fill the gaps left by destroyed or broken down military vehicles.
This was retweeted, but it should be posted here. Russians should be terrified if this is the meaning of it. Already, they are running out of trucks. https://t.co/YaVdw406ph
— Phillips P. OBrien (@PhillipsPOBrien) March 5, 2022
The component shortages are compounding a problem that was already severe early in Russia’s campaign.
Problem has become even worse. Now, as the war in Ukraine enters its fourth weeks, both the Ukrainian military and the sister services have already destroyed 485 Russian trucks.
That’s more than a tenth of the trucks that belong to the Russian army’s 10 “material-technical support” brigades, which haul supplies, ammo and fresh troops from rail-heads to front-line formations.As the Ukrainians take out more trucks, the shortage is becoming more acute. was evident in the first 10 days of the invasion as Russia began transporting civilian vehicles into the war zone, probably in an effort to make up for losses of military trucks.
…Russian logistic troops under attack are scared. “Reluctance to maneuver cross-country, lack of control of the air and limited bridging capabilities are preventing Russia from effectively resupplying their forward troops with even basic essentials such as food and fuel,” the U.K. Defense Intelligence Agency reportedThis Thursday
In an attempt to make up for lost revenue, a desperate attempt at commandeering civilian trucks can cause just as many problems as the old one. There’s a reason armies buy custom-made trucks rather than simply painting civilian models brown or green.
The military truck can be more tough than the civilian one, has greater redundancy and might even have armor for passengers or crew members. Diesel is more common in military trucks than gasoline. To simplify maintenance and repairs, the military tends to buy large numbers of identical trucks.
You can’t swap, say, a civilian Ural-375D for a military Ural-4320 and expect the same performance in the brutal conditions of a mechanized war. A mixed collection of random civie vehicle can’t be swapped for a single model military fleet. This creates a new set of maintenance challenges.
It also impacts night vision equipment and other munitions which are dependent on components made in Western Europe and the USA. A study by the Royal United Services Institute found that all of Russia’s advanced precision weapons were totally reliant on Western or Chinese components. The following quote comes from page 11.
The 9M727 cruise missile – fired from the Iskander-K – is an example of one of Russia’s most advanced weapons systems, able to manoeuvre at low altitude to a target and strike with considerable precision. In order to achieve this the missile must carry a computer able to ingest data from various inertial and active sensors and command links and translate these into instructions to manipulate the missile’s control surfaces. One of the computers was found in a 9M727 that had been destroyed during fieldwork. The author physically examined it. This computer is approximately the same size and shape as A4 paper. The heat shield protects it from the radiation and heat generated by the missile. This computer needs to be extremely strong, with its components being able to work even when surrounding structures are warped by temperature fluctuations. It requires highly-specialized materials and components. One of the socket attachment points that allow data to flow through the heat shield is Soviet-era and made in Russia. The other seven are all from the same design. Six of the six remaining socket attachment points allow data to be moved through heat shield. The rest are made by US companies. The same goes for the rails linking the circuit boards to computer housings, which are required to maintain alignment under enormous forces. They also come from the US. American-made circuit boards are imported.53
The 9M727’s dependence on foreign components is not a unique one. The Central Scientific Research Institute for Armaments of the Armed Forces of Ukraine conducted a technical inspection of all Russian weapons and vehicles. It found a common pattern. The 9M949 guided 300-mm rocket that forms the backbone of Russian precision artillery as a munition for the Tornado-S multiple launch rocket system uses a US-made fibre-optic gyroscope for its inertial navigation.54 The Russian TOR-M2 air-defence system – one of the most potent short-ranged air-defence systems in the world – relies on a British-designed oscillator in the computer controlling the platform’s radar.55 This pattern is true in the Iskander-M, the Kalibr cruise missile, the Kh-101 air-launched cruise missile, and many more besides. The same holds true for many tactical battle equipment. An examination by the technical labs of the Ukrainian intelligence community of the Aqueduct family of Russian military radios (R-168-5UN-2, R-168-5UN-1 and R-168-5UT-2), which form the backbone of the Russian military’s tactical communications, for instance, reveals critical electronic components manufactured in the US, Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea and Japan.56 The pattern is universal. Almost all of Russia’s modern military hardware is dependent upon complex electronics imported from the US, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, Israel, China and further afield
RUSI Special Report: Operation Z – The Death Throes Of An Imperial Delusion On Scribd
It isn’t like their munitions were all that good when the foreign-made components were easy to come by; see A 60% Dud Rate for Precision-Guided Munitions Explains a Lot of Russia’s Problems in Ukraine.
Russia’s situation will only get worse as this conflict continues. The frontline armor vehicles lost in Ukraine can’t be made up from depots or factories. Russia hasn’t shown the ability or inclination to attempt to repair vehicles forward and return them to service. You can’t look at the number of abandoned/captured Russian vehicles and not feel that when a vehicle breaks down, the crew abandons it and moves on.
At best, commanding civilian vehicles is a half-measure. Most civilian vehicles’ drive trains and suspension aren’t sufficiently robust to operate in a combat environment, and repairing them is out of the question.
Russia will need to be vigilant over the coming weeks. Russia has no access to security partners for resupply, but Ukraine does have them. Russia has two options: Russia can make the gains that bring Ukraine back to the bargaining table or Russia can go for plan B.