Where would the war be without Ukrainian tractors to haul off all of the broken-down Russian equipment? Some of the recoveries bring big bucks if the Russian tech is interesting enough to western intelligence agencies. The farmers have played a critical role in the war to date and even if it’s unserviceable scrap steel, you can still sell it for $200/ton.
It tickles me to see the Ukrainians pull the Russian Army’s pants down. They wanted so much to win. Ukraine had such promise for Russia’s future. And they just couldn’t pull it off. Though it would bother many western governments who want to supply war materials, the Russians need to pull out of Crimea, pack all of their stuff up in Ukraine, and go home. Call it a hard lesson.
What is the Currency of the Russian Army?
Look at the photo below…the sinking feeling you get when you secretly sold off half the army’s fuel and find out Gerasimov secretly sold off the other half…
Does this general have the face of a crook? Does a bear crap in the woods? Does Hunter Biden bang whores and do crack?
We’re back to the first question. How much fuel does the Russian army have?
Western military analysts may try to answer it by looking at pictures of Russian fuel depots. I’ve done it myself – many years ago. Overhead imagery is a blessing and a curse. If you have a big depot that can hold a gazillion liters, you probably built it because you have a gazillion liters to store.
The same analysts look at the size of the armed forces and the official Russian war manuals and calculate the fuel reserves based on that. They have 5000 tanks, and this manual says that for each tank there needs to be this much fuel in reserve.
Russian Army officers sell classified internal reports on the state of Russian fuel reserves to American spies. It’s an official internal report from the ministry of defense, has to be right! The information was received by a reliable source with good access to reported information.
Except it’s not. Even in Russia, no one has any idea how much fuel they have. Because fuel is the unofficial secondary currency of the army.
A minister can steal a lot of the money that is supposed to buy fuel to fill that huge depot. Maybe the depot is half full? As long as there is no war with NATO, no one will find out. And if there is a war with NATO, they’ll probably blow up the fuel depot anyway.
Do you recall the Russian fuel depot that was blown up by helicopters? The Ukrainians initially denied doing it, so people thought it was a Russian false flag. Analysts wonder: a daring raid by Ukraine or a really dumb Russian provocation? I suggest a third option – fuel was running out way before it should have and a bit of friendly fire helped cover it up.
A general can look at the fuel depot and think: so the depot is half empty and the minister doesn’t want anyone to look inside. It won’t hurt if I also sell some of the fuel!
Even an NCO can exchange half the fuel from his truck for a bottle of vodka.
There’s no analyst in the world that can factor in all the theft in the Russian Army.
Those pouches are elements of the reactive armor system, Relikt. They are supposed to hold explosive material. If a specialized enemy AT round strikes the pouch, the explosives detonate and reflect the energy of that round outwards. Except on this Russian tank, someone stole the explosives. You see the egg cartons that are separators, used in these pockets, and ERA explosives are missing. Why isn’t the explosive there?
It could have been cut up and used for heat in the winter. It will simply burn (like C-4) if it’s lighted and not detonated. And if you’re stranded in the cold for a long time and your officer won’t let you run the tank engine (no fuel), the only way to stay warm or cook food is to start burning the reactive armor.
Russian generals and admirals have dachas and yachts but their salary is something like an American O-3. How do they make up the difference? Corruption. Rampant, unabashed corruption.
How is a military analyst supposed to estimate the level of corruption and its impact on the deterioration of specific capabilities of the Russian army? How many tanks have egg cartons for armor, is it one, 1% or 70%? We saw soldiers cut radios out of their BTRs to sell them for scrap (precious color metals). What is the cumulative effect on their comms capacity?
And on top of the corruption, there is propaganda about new weapons, like the Su57 “stealth” fighter that does not have stealthy surfaces, a fancy engine, or sensors it was supposed to have, and crashes due to simple mechanical faults. Or the T-14 Armata tank, which was sent to Syria for field testing and after that, its production line was quietly switched off.
Even the Russian commanders were surprised at how unprepared their army was, so how were western analysts supposed to know?