As Russia scrambles to deploy troops and weaponry to the Kherson region in Ukraine following the successful launch of a significant counteroffensive by the Ukrainians, a Russian weapons manufacturing executive revealed how the Kremlin plans to continue its invasion – by manufacturing more Soviet-style tanks.
Pyotr Tyukov, the executive director of manufacturing company JSC Kurganmashzavod, told Russian media in August that the Kremlin was preparing to purchase older-style infantry fighting vehicles.
When asked whether the military is prepared to purchase older BMP infantry fighting vehicles, Tyukov all but confirmed that there are plans underway to manufacture and deploy new Soviet-style weapons.
“All proposals of the military to resume the production of BMP of an earlier generation or their overhaul with elements of modernization are carefully being worked out. But it must be understood that the price of such products will be much higher than for new serial machines produced as planned, such as BMP-3 and BMD-4M,” Tyukov explained.
“Both Kurganmashzavod, the Rostec State Corporation, and the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation are striving for a reasonable mutual understanding in the approach to the formation of the army’s needs for military equipment.”
No Match for NATO-Standard Weapons
Manufacturing more Soviet-style weapons could help Russia in the short-term, giving its military access to more cheaply and easily made weapons and vehicles in the coming months, but it doesn’t change the fact that Russia is losing weaponry and tanks at an alarming speed.
During an interview with Newsweek, former U.S. Ambassador Mark Green said that U.S.-supplied weapons in Ukraine were doing “tremendous” reputational damage to Russia’s military-industrial industry while at the same time forcing Russia to use up more of its resources.
“It’s going to be harder and harder for them to fulfill contracts—certainly to fulfill contracts in the sense of providing maintenance and replacement parts—because they’re distracted,” Green said, adding that Russian forces are increasingly resorting to the use of older weapons that “don’t match up well” to the West’s more sophisticated systems.
While Russia has no shortage of access to manufacturing labor, Western sanctions on the importation of technology and parts mean that the manufacturing capabilities of its factories are limited.
That could, in fact, have been the reason behind Russia’s decision to cut off the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany and demand that Europe eases its sanctions on the country. With the genuine prospect of the lights going out in Europe over the winter, the Kremlin could be hoping that the pressure forces the West to lift some of those restrictions and help Russia gain access to the necessary technological parts to begin manufacturing more advanced weaponry.
If that is, in fact, the case, it indicates Russia’s intentions to continue the fight long into the new year – and potentially beyond.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.