Putin might not have enough of them, and they might not perform that well in Ukraine. More than a year of combat in Ukraine is drying up the arsenal of the Russian military. The Russian forces have lost thousands of weapons systems on the ground in Ukraine.
Not Enough Weapons to Go Around
For example, Russian defense companies have been going abroad to market the “great” qualities of the Arena-E Active Protection System (APS), which is designed to provide additional protection to tanks and other armored vehicles. Per the Russian defense industry, the APS can improve the survivability of an armored vehicle and can defeat modern anti-armor threats.
It would be reasonable to assume that the Russian military is using the “best” products of the country’s defense and aerospace industry, including APS armor.
However, there is little evidence of that.
“This is likely due to Russian industry’s inability to manufacture high-tech systems at scale; a problem which is exacerbated by the effect of international sanctions,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in a recent update.
Although strange, it aligns with how the Russian military and industry are using the country’s latest and most advanced weapon systems.
Protecting the Russian Defense and Aerospace Industries
There is another dimension as to why the Russians aren’t using their best weapon systems in Ukraine: they might not be able to perform as advertised.
“Why is Russia’s much vaunted new generation of military hardware absent from the battlefield?” Ian Stubbs, the U.K. representative to the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) recently asked.
“The truth is, Russia’s over hyped new generation T14 Armata Main Battle Tank is proving a white elephant, barely capable of taking part in a parade let alone performing on the battlefields of Ukraine. And, the Russian air force has so little confidence in the Su57 5th generation multi-role aircraft that they dare not operate it over Ukraine,” the British official added.
Indeed, instead of using modern weaponry, such as such as the T-14 Armata main battle tank or Su-57 Felon 5th-generation fighter jet, the Russian military has been opting to use 50-year-old weapon systems.
Starting in the summer, the Russian military started taking antiquated T-62 main battle tanks out of storage and refitting them to join the action in Ukraine. Thus far, the Russian forces have been equipped with about 800 modernized T-62s.
Moreover, the Russian forces are starting to field BTR-50 armored personnel carriers, which were first fielded back in 1954, only nine years after the end of World War Two.
However, despite any new additions, these weapon systems remain obsolete on the modern battlefield and are easy targets for the Ukrainians.
A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. He is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Strategy and Cybersecurity at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.