Russia: A steel wall against the West

Mar 27, 2024
Close up hands Russian soldier man dressed military camouflage uniform holds weapon

In 1942, a Finnish sound engineer Thor Damen, secretly recorded 11 minutes of a conversation between Finland’s Commander-in-Chief, Carl Gustaf Mannerheim and Adolf Hitler, without the latter’s knowledge.

Fighting as allies, both seemed awed and shocked by the Soviet capacity to fight, Hitler exclaiming, “They had the most armaments that people could imagine. Well, if someone had told me a country could start with 35,000 tanks, then ‘I’d have said, ‘you are crazy’…35,000! If one of my generals had stated that any nation has 35,000 tanks, I’d had said, ‘You my good sir, you see everything twice or ten times. You are crazy, you see ghosts’.”

Little seemingly has changed in the 80 years since.

Again the West, seeking to advance NATO eastwards, has thrown itself against Russia. Having aired its displeasure for some two decades, Russia, under threat, acted, sending forces into Ukraine, 22nd February 2022.

The West reacted swiftly, imposing sanctions on Russia, while arming Ukraine. The expectation was Russian armaments would not match those of the West, both in quantity and quality, while crushing economic sanctions would quickly bring the Russian economy to its knees. Just over two years later, it is clear neither has happened.

Instead the Western nations have failed to maintain armaments manufacture for Ukraine, due to manufacturing limitations and political inertia, while economically, rather than Russia, it is Europe suffering economically.

The failure to provide arms has reduced Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy to begging status before an increasing unreceptive West, as Russia begins to increasingly out gun it.

Russia meanwhile, has increased armaments manufacture, the British think-tank, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) estimating that Russia has approximately 4,780 artillery pieces, 1,130 rocket-launcher artillery systems, 2,060 tanks of various designs and 7,080 other armoured fighting vehicles, supported by 290 helicopters, of which 110 are attack helicopters, and 310 fixed-wing fighter-bombers. It notes Russia is delivering approximately 1,500 tanks to its forces per year, along with approximately 3,000 armoured fighting vehicles of various types,’ adding, ‘Russian missile production has similarly increased…A lot higher than we expected.’

To achieve this, defence spending has risen to an estimated 7.5% of Russian GDP, supply chains have been redesigned to secure key inputs and evade sanctions, while factories producing ammunition, vehicles and equipment are running overtime. Sanction busting includes electronic chips made by foreign companies like STMicroelectronics (French-Italian) and Intel (U.S.)

Concerning troop numbers RUSI notes, ’The Russian military began 2023 with a highly disorganised force in Ukraine comprising approximately 360,000 troops. By the beginning of the Ukrainian offensive in June 2023, this had risen to 410,000 troops and was becoming more organised.’ Russia’s Ministry of Defence aims to expand the military to 1.5 million personnel, and currently is achieving almost 85 per cent of that goal. While the armies of both sides have suffered horrific casualties, Russia as the larger country has a greater capacity to bear such losses.

Economically, the projected growth rates given by the OECD for 2024 are telling. The Russian economy is projected to grow 1.7%, significantly besting the ‘Euro area 17’ at just 0.6%. That anaemic rate includes the major economies of Italy 0.7%, France 0.6% and Germany 0.3%.

European manufacturing and industrial capacities have been severely impacted by application of sanctions against Russia, thus cutting themselves off from Russian energy supplies, particularly gas, which was being delivered through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, about to be augmented by the Nord-Stream 2 pipeline. Of course these were destroyed, ostensively by the Russians, according to ever pliant western politicians and media, though they could have just simply turned off the tap. To replace the Russian gas Europe had to turn to buying from the U.S. at premium prices.

The U.S. essentially admitted to destroying the pipelines when President Joe Biden, with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz beside him said, ‘there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it….We will, I promise you, we will be able to do that.’ One wonders what type of leader stands meekly by while a supposed ally announces plans to destroy their economy!

One winner out of the war has been the U.S., able to bring Europe closer in their fold, gaining financially through sales of military equipment, much of the funding ‘donated’ to Ukraine remaining in the U.S., while also benefitting through increased energy sales.

There was a opportunity for peace, March 2022, soon after the war began, something which Ukraine was on the verge of accepting, before their main backers the U.S. and U.K. pressured them otherwise, a decision which sober heads in Ukraine must now increasingly regret. Ukraine has been left hung out to dry, its cities and economy ruined, and over 100,000 troops and civilians dead with more injured.

Have those that pushed Ukraine to this, by their design to enlarge NATO learned? One can only suppose not as they repeat the exercise in the South China Sea.

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