Days before the most extensive attack on Ukrainian soil since the conflict began, on February 24, information declassified by US intelligence advanced an idea that today, in light of the bombing, seems to be confirmed: Russia is it is running out of sophisticated weapons, forcing the purchase of war equipment from a small group of allies amid international sanctions that suffocate its arsenal.
On September 5, a month before the destruction of the symbol of Crimea’s annexation to Russia, the Kerch Bridge, the American newspaper The New York Times announced that, according to an intelligence report, the invading country was buying millions of projectiles from artillery and rockets to North Korea, adding to the previous military sale by Iran. According to the Ukrainian Army, of the 24 drones Russia used during Monday’s attacks, more than half were Iranian.
However, for analysts, the measure reflects the military desperation to which Russia would be exposed at the toughest moment for its high command.
From the deadly attack ordered on Monday by Vladimir Putin, which claimed the lives of at least 19 people and left more than 100 wounded, authorities and experts managed to draw valuable conclusions for the development of the war. Perhaps the most valuable is the evidence that Russia’s high-end arsenal is running out.
It was the New York media that advanced the information, when they assured that the invading Army received Iranian-made drones, which was ratified by Tehran, and then, resorting to an unexpected ally, they contacted North Korea to stock up on weapons.
Two strands were highlighted to reach such a conclusion. In the first place is the strategic side of the Kremlin, which in the past has spared no massive attacks on the civilian population, as was seen in Mariupol. It was on March 16, while Russian forces were besieging the port city, that a shelling destroyed the Donetsk Regional Academic Drama Theater in Mariupol. Inside, hundreds of civilians were hiding in the bomb shelter when the missiles fell.
Independent estimates by The Associated Press put the number of victims in an action classified as a war crime by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and Amnesty International at around 600.
That destructive power was not seen in the recent attacks throughout the country, despite the fact that Putin’s deliberate target was critical infrastructure and the civilian population, according to different international media. There, factors such as anti-aircraft defense systems provided by the West played a relevant role, but so was the presence of antiquated missiles -some even from the Soviet era-, unguided and imprecise, where even in the European summer it was reported that many Some of the older ones exploded on hitting the ground, even though they’re designed to do so before landing to maximize damage.
“Given the scarcity of resources and military equipment, it is unlikely that Russia will be able to maintain the pace of combat that it exhibited on Monday,” Ridzwan Rahmat, the main analyst at Defense magazine Jane’s, told The New York Times.
Second, months and months of financial sanctions against Russia seem to have come to an end, specifically on the military side. The extensive restrictions did not seem to have been able to paralyze the country, which benefited from the rise in the cost of energy (gas and oil), driven by the invasion itself, to cover its expenses. Targeting oligarchs close to Putin didn’t seem to affect him either, but when it comes to weaponry, the sanctions found the note to strike.
The difficulty in purchasing electronic elements and technical equipment necessary for the production of modern weapons has been the great American success so far in the conflict. Moscow’s hope that China would fill that space was dashed by the constant threats emanating from Washington, considering that, despite the fact that the Asian giant remains willing to buy Russian oil at a considerable economic discount, they are not willing to violate the sanctions. international markets and sell equipment to Russia, detailed US reports.
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Gina Raimondo, the US Commerce Secretary, has repeatedly threatened Beijing, saying that if the Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), China’s largest maker of computer chips, sells its products to Russia or other countries sanctioned, Washington will withdraw all its technological business with the Asian country.
Under this scenario, the chance that the Kremlin actually needs to buy war equipment increases with each new attack it carries out. So believes Ian Storey, a senior fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, who told The New York Times that it would be “a sign of desperation” if the purchase of weapons from North Korea is proven.
The details of the purchase from Pyongyang have not yet been revealed, but analysts doubt the real usefulness of North Korean weapons in the warlike ecosystem that has dominated the war. Consulted by the American newspaper, the military expert of the American Enterprise Institute, Frederick W. Kagan, assured that a 152-millimeter artillery projectile or a Katyusha-type rocket, both massively produced in North Korea, do not represent high-end equipment at all. technology versus what Russia demonstrated at the start of the invasion.
“The only reason the Kremlin would have to buy artillery shells or rockets from North Korea or anyone is because Putin has been unwilling or unable to mobilize the Russian economy for war, even at the most basic level,” he said. emphatic.
The lack of weapons is also consistent with Russia’s declining momentum on the front lines when compared to March or April this year. For Kagan, “this is very likely an indication of a massive failure of the Russian military industrial complex that is likely to have deep roots and very serious implications for the Russian Armed Forces.”
With the start of the Ukrainian counter-offensive, strategic attacks on Russian ammunition depots using high-caliber weapons provided by Western allies have also been reported.
On the other hand, the sale of unmanned drones by Iran was confirmed by the country itself, however, they defended themselves by assuring that this was part of an agreement prior to the start of the war, in February of this year.
In mid-July, the White House National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, had already announced that Iran was “preparing the supply of up to several hundred drones to Russia in an accelerated manner.” Information that was given just at the time that Putin was visiting Tehran and numerous meetings between senior officials of both countries were recorded.
These “kamikaze” drones, so called because they self-destruct on impact with their target, were present in the attacks on Ukrainian cities recorded on Monday. According to the specialized media The Drive, there would be two models: the Shahed-136 “kamikazes”, and the larger version, the Mohajer-6, both unmanned aircraft. Ukrainian soldiers assured that the Iranian drones – which carry a payload of about 36 kilos to carry out self-destruct – are effective weapons on the battlefield.
The shipment of these weapons would not be strange, the outlet assured, considering that Tehran has already delivered a short-range ballistic missile, the Qiam-1, to Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the past to attack Saudi targets.
Considering that both Iran and North Korea maintain important economic sanctions, analysts conclude that the warlike alliance is totally feasible, since all three benefit. Pyongyang and Tehran test their weapons in a real setting, in addition to raising money, and Russia rearms its apparently diminished military arsenal.
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