Repair crews were stopped every 15 miles because military vehicles were so badly damaged. Some officers were in so bad condition that the military spent $ 1.5 million to re-measure the standard uniforms.
There was a Russian military when that country invaded Georgia a decade ago. According to the then Minister of Defense. The Kremlin announced a complete overhaul of the army to create a slim, highly flexible, professional force, large and small defects.
But now, almost three months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is clear that the Kremlin has failed miserably to build an efficient fighting machine. While Russian forces in Ukraine have taken most Western analysts by surprise, President Vladimir V. Putin’s military action has raised the possibility of defeat.
However, despite the occupation of territory in the south and east, the Russian military has suffered heavy casualties in Ukraine. It was forced to give up what was expected to be a Blitzkrieg that would capture the entire country in a few days. Its forces were driven out around the capital, Kiev. The flagship of its Black Sea Fleet, Moscow sank; It never controlled the sky; And according to some Western estimates, tens of thousands of Russians have died.
The war exposes the fact that much of the Soviet-era military culture and learned behavior is detrimental to Russia: inflexibility in command structure, corruption in military spending, and the mystery that everything is going according to plan. Project.
The symptoms of the problem disappeared invisibly. Last summer, Russia hosted the war games, demonstrating its ability to mobilize 200,000 troops from various sections of the military in a pseudo-effort to fight NATO, the defense ministry said. They will be one of the largest military exercises ever.
Deputy Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Yunus-Pek Evkunov told reporters that the exercises demonstrated Russia’s ability to quickly deploy coalition forces “to defuse any enemy.”
The entire tutorial was scripted. No resistance; The main units involved practiced their dance for several months; Each exercise was started and stopped at a specific time. Military analysts say the number of troops involved could be up to half the number advertised.
“It’s basically a Soviet army,” said Kamil Khalive, an independent Russian researcher and former ally of The Wilson Center in Washington. “The reforms increased the efficiency of the military, but they were only half gone.”
After the conflict in Georgia in 2008, when Russia tried to reorganize its military, the idea was to abandon the severely centralized, Soviet-era army, which could deploy four million troops at any one time. Instead, field officers will take on more responsibility, units will learn to synchronize their skills and the entire arsenal will be drawn into the computer age.
Many conservatives opposed the change, preferring the old model of a larger, more concentrated force. But other factors also contributed to the inability of the military to change. Birth rates throughout the world have dropped dramatically already, leading to a decline in the number of males being forced to work. That, and the continued low pay, delayed recruitment targets. Local corruption thwarted efforts.
But the fundamental problem is that the military culture of the Soviet Union lasted, despite the lack of people and means to sustain it, analysts said.
“The Soviet army was built to produce millions of men, to fill many divisions with ample equipment in stock,” said Michael Kaufman.
Eventually, the drive for change stalled, leaving a hybrid version of the military somewhere between mass mobilization and more flexible forces, analysts said. It still supports substantial artillery rather than infantry holding ground.
In last summer’s training, the script, the way the military does combat training, will tell. “No one is being tested for thinking ability on the battlefield,” said William Alberg, director of the Berlin-based Arms Control Program for International Strategic Surveillance. Instead, officials are evaluating the ability to follow instructions, he said.
Russia wants the world to see its military during the annual Victory Day parade – a well-oiled weapon, lined up in solidarity with bold uniforms and threatening weapons.
“They use the military as a propaganda machine,” said 31-year-old Klep Irisov, who retired from the military in 2020, five years later. He worked as a military analyst for the official TASS news agency before leaving the country as he strongly opposed the invasion.
Senior military commanders argue that recent travel forces, especially in Syria, have provided real combat training, but analysts call that claim exaggerated.
Russian troops did not face a real enemy in Syria; Combat was often an air force operation where pilots could move targets at will. Russia did not wage a major land war after World War II.
Russian leaders, however, exaggerated the country’s success. In 2017, Russian Defense Minister Sergei K. Shoiku boasted at a meeting of fellow ministers in the Philippines that Russia had “liberated” 503,223 square kilometers in Syria. The problem is that Mr. The area claimed by Shoi is said to be twice as large as the entire country. ProjectAn independent news agency.
With About 900,000 Overall population, one-third of them ground forces, the Russian military is not so big, it should protect a vast country comprising 11 time zones, analysts said. But the goal of hiring 50,000 contract players each year, originally stated ten years ago, has not been met, so the annual draft for 18- to 27-year-olds is still there.
Mr. Putin did not seek a mass military draft to mobilize all physically fit adult men into the war. But even if he does, the infrastructure needed to train the general public as a whole is now lacking. The consensus is that most of Russia’s ground forces are already stationed in Ukraine.
Has drained resources of widespread corruption. Retired Maj. Gen. Harry Ohra-Aho, a former Finnish intelligence chief and still adviser to the Ministry of Defense, said, “Everybody steals funds that are appropriate for their position.”
Corruption is so pervasive that some cases inevitably come to court.
In January, the Colonel became the former head of the Department of Procurement for Armored Vehicles. Evgeny Pustovoy has been accused of helping to steal more than $ 13 million through fake contracts for batteries from 2018 to 2020. Toss
In February, a Moscow military tribunal fired Maj. Gen. Alexander Okloplin and sentenced him to 4.5 years in prison on what he called “particularly large-scale” fraud. Officials allege embezzlement of about $ 25 million in state contracts for satellites and other equipment, business news website BFM.RU Reported.
Big deals are not the only temptation. Low salaries – a senior executive earns about $ 1,000 a month – and inflated budgets are a recipe for all sorts of thefts, analysts say, leading to a chain reaction of problems.
The researcher said that the commanders were hiding how much training they were carrying out and pocketing the resources allocated for them. Irisov said. This exacerbates the lack of basic military skills such as navigation and shooting, although the Air Force maintains air defense standards.
“The scale of the lies within the military is unimaginable,” he said. Irishov said. “The quality of military production is very low due to competition to steal money.”
One out of every five rubles spent on the armed forces was stolen, the chief military prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky told the official government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta in 2011.
Mr. Irishov said he had encountered several examples of sapphire equipment – the Panzir air defense system, which could not shoot down a small Israeli drone over Syria; Russian-made light bulbs on the wings of SU-35 fighter jets melting at supersonic speeds; New trucks that break down after two years.
In general, Russian weapons lag far behind its computerized Western counterparts, but military analysts say it could serve. Still, some new production is limited.
For example, the T-14 Armata, the “next generation” battle tank released in 2015, is not used in Ukraine because they are so scarce.
Russia has poured hundreds of billions of dollars into its military, producing new aircraft, tanks, helicopters and other items under the state weapons program. While most European countries have struggled to invest 2 percent of GDP, military spending has not fallen below 3.5 percent of GDP over the past decade, according to figures from international strategic surveys. Part of Russia’s military budget.
What kind of financial investment did Russia make in Ukraine?
Johann Norberg, a Russian analyst at the Swedish Defense Research Agency, said Russia and its military were “unprecedentedly capable of solving every problem in a decade.” The war in Ukraine exposed the fact that the Russian army was “not 10 feet high, but they were not even two feet high.”
Alina Lobsina and Milana Maseva contributed to the reporting.
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