Mainly responsible for that is the problematic state of the Russian defense industry.
A Dearth of Main Battle Tanks
When the Russian forces launched their invasion of Ukraine on February 24, they fielded 3,200 combat-ready main battle tanks. On the other side, the Ukrainians could only deploy approximately 900.
But after a year plus of fighting and repeated defeats have taken a toll on the Russian military. The Russian military has lost thousands of main battle tanks in Ukraine, and that figure increases with every passing day – however, estimates to vary widely but are clearly massive as can been seen to open source intel gatheting.
According to an assessment by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) a few months back, the Russian military has lost approximately 50 percent of its T-72B and T-72B3M fleet, as well as many T-80 tanks. That number has surely grown.
As a result, the Russian military has had to rely on older weapon systems to support its offensive and defensive operations, with concomitant negative results. T-64 tanks, made more than 60 years ago, have been all the rage for a Russian military that losses between five to ten main battle tanks a day.
The Russian defense industry has largely failed to meet the demands of the war and replenish the heavy losses of the Russian forces.
The Russian Defense Industry Has Tank Issues
There is increasing concern in Moscow with the state of the Russian defense and aerospace industries.
Months back, Russian Deputy Security Council Chairman and former President Dmitry Medvedev visited the Omsk Transport Machine Construction plant and called for an increase in tank production.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has made similar comments, urging the country’s defense and aerospace industries to increase their output and better support his campaign in Ukraine.
In January, Putin even chastised on public television his deputy prime minister responsible for the defense industry for the lackluster support of the Russian forces fighting in Ukraine.
“Senior Russian leaders are likely aware that the state’s military-industrial output is becoming a critical weakness, exacerbated by the strategic and operational miscalculation of invading Ukraine,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in a recent estimate of the war.
However, the Russian defense and aerospace industries have suffered under Western sanctions, which have cut access to vital technology, such as microchips. As a result, the Russians have had to result to scavenging fridges and dishwashers to power tanks and cruise missiles.
“Production is almost certainly falling short of the Russian MoD’s demands to resource the Ukraine campaign and restore its longer-term defense requirements,” the British Military Intelligence added.
Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Defense has been hesitant to deploy any of its handful of T-14 Armata main battle tanks to Ukraine. There have been reports the tank is fighting in some sort of limit capacity in Ukriane.
The most advanced tank in the Russian arsenal, the T-14 Armata has been plagued with delays and technical problems.
Moreover, Moscow is hesitant to send the weapon system into the frontlines out of fear of losing any of the tanks, thus hurting its reputation and market value.
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Expert Biography: 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.