Escalation of the war: what is still the size of the Russian weapons stockpile

Russia’s massive attacks on Ukrainian cities earlier this week mark an escalation of the war. More than 20 cities were heavily hit, including the capital Kiev, which had not been targeted by the Russian offensive since June. Only on Monday (10), 84 missiles and 24 “suicide” drones were launched. Now, experts debate how many weapons Russia still has on hand to continue the offensive in the neighboring country.

Some old estimates have already been broken. “Russian stocks were clearly underestimated,” declared Vincent Tourret, a researcher at the Strategic Research Foundation of France.

In 311, the Swedish institute FOI predicted that the Russian army had about 1.300 ballistic and cruise missiles. Since February, however, more than 3,000 have been launched against Ukraine.

“It is not possible to arrive at precise numbers, mainly because there is a limit that the Russian army will not exceed, in order to maintain a acceptable amount in the event of a military conflict against NATO”, analyzes Dimitri Minc, an expert on Russia at the French Institute of International Relations, in an interview with the newspaper Le Figaro.

In addition, annual production must be committed. With Western sanctions on Russia, the country may struggle to produce new weapons without essential foreign components. “Unless Russia and partners like China manage to develop such sophisticated components”, warns Minc.

A long-standing investment

As highlighted by former KGB Sergei Jirnov, in the book L’engrenage (A Engrenagem, in free translation, without a Portuguese version), published in July 2022 by the publisher Albin Michel, the official Russian budget for the armed forces represents 10% of the total budget of the country, the equivalent of 60 billions of dollars (about 311 billions of reais, in the current conversion).

The real value, however, is possibly much higher, especially in wartime. Jirnov estimates that this investment in the army is the equivalent of 30% of the country’s budget.

The author emphasizes that it is a percentage much higher than that of other countries. France, for example, allocates 2 to 3% of its budget to the military sector.

However, this long-standing investment by the Russians is not necessarily destined for the best equipment. “Putin has not been able to equip the army with state-of-the-art weapons,” describes Jirnov.

In addition, in recent years, the country has become dependent on foreign components often manufactured in adversary or even enemy countries. , such as electronic parts from Taiwan and South Korea.

Airplanes and tanks have been imported, especially in the last decade, from France, the United States and Germany.

“And yet Russia is mobilizing against Europe, the West, against NATO and the United States. Everything was before our eyes, announced years ago”, evaluates Jirnov, about the announced Russian preparation for war using equipment purchased in enemy countries.

Race to equip Ukraine

In Monday’s new attacks (10), the Ukrainian defense managed to intercept 43 missiles and 13 drones, about half of what was launched by the Russians – a large amount, but not enough to prevent tragedies across the country.

“We have to defend ourselves against these attacks with Soviet-era weapons that we have in insufficient quantity”, complains the head of the Ukrainian army, Valeri Zaloujny, on Twitter.

In the face of the new attacks, Germany has promised to send four anti-aircraft defense systems in the coming days. The United States has also guaranteed that it will send two anti-missile batteries by the end of the year.

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