Murphy's Law: Overlooked Russian Gains And Losses


February 12, 2023: Examination of the wreckage of crashed Iranian Shahed-131, Shahed 136, and Mohajer-6 cruise missiles in November showed that 82 percent of them had some Western electronic components the Iranian sanctions are supposed to access to. Most of the banned components were manufactured in 2020 and 2021 and some of them improved the existing capabilities of the Iranian UAVs used as one-way cruise missiles. Iran is assisting Russia in setting up a UAV manufacturing plant in Russia and the two heavily sanctioned countries are combining their component smuggling efforts. This cooperation will allow improvements in current weapons and military equipment used by both countries as well enable the development of more capable systems.

Russia also has a problem with a growing number of Ukrainian spies operating in Russian occupied portions of Ukraine as well as pro-Ukraine )pr anti-Putin) Russians inside Russia who are provide Ukraine with target and other information about Russian military activities. Ukraine abides by the American restrictions on using American supplied missiles on targets inside Russia. Instead, Ukraine uses improvised or Ukrainian-made long-range weapons to strike these targets. Ukrainian special operations forces have also operated inside Russia and carried out some spectacular attacks on Russian military bases and industrial sites crucial to their war on Ukraine. The damage, especially spectacular explosions and fires are hard to hide from commercial and military satellites overhead or curious Russians with cellphone cameras and access to the Internet outside Russia. This lack of adequate or effective air defenses or facility security is embarrassing for the Russia government but no surprise to most Russians and Ukrainians.

Some information comes from Russians themselves as they complain about how their own government is treating then, especially government efforts to put more Russians into uniform and sent them, off to fight and die in Ukraine. This sort of thing is nothing new for Russians. They experienced it in the 1990s when Russia needed more troops to fight and die fighting Chechens in the Caucasus. Before that there was the eight year campaign in the 1980s that kept over 100,000 Russian troops in Afghanistan and sent 15,000 of these Russian soldiers home in coffins. Only a few thousand died in Chechnya. So far in Ukraine over 150,000 Russians have died in less than a year. The Wagner Group recruitment of convicts with the promise of a pardon if they served six months backfired when it became known that only about 20 percent of the first convicts recruited survived their six months and received their pardons. Recent recruiting efforts show that far fewer convicts are will to volunteer and, justifiably, feel safer serving out their sentences.

While Ukraine continues to catch, prosecute and punish corrupt officials, Russia is eliminating anti-corruption laws to enable corrupt officials to evade detection and continue to profit from corrupt practices. This encourages Ukrainians to keep fighting and Russians to resist getting mobilized into the military. This also encourages more Russians to sabotage the war effort via individual efforts. There are of Russians with Ukrainian or Belarussian roots, or anti-Putin Russians, who are willing to provide information to Ukrainian special operations forces or even participate in operations against the Russian war effort. Russia is increasingly at war with itself as well as Ukraine.

Meanwhile Ukrainian and NATO weapons specialists continue examining captured (largely intact) Russian weapons for useful details on how they operate or are supposed to operate and develop better methods were defeating these systems. This has been going on ever since the war began and Ukraine shares this captured gear with its NATO allies with a constant flow of Russian weapons sent to Poland and beyond for further examination and analysis. This has been particularly hard on Russian electronic systems, especially counter-measures that are supposed to reduce the effectiveness of Western weapons. Russia developed some interesting new tech which losses most of its effectiveness when the enemy know how it works and how to remotely make it not work.

Russia ahs captured some Western systems but not to extent that their systems have been captured and analyzed. These losses are common in any war and first became a major factor during World War II. This was especially true with the electronic warfare German and British engineers engaged in to keep their bombers operational over enemy territory. This established the model for tech warfare that persists to the present, especially in Ukraine and Russia. During World War II the Russians were allies of Britain and the United States and received a lot ofo impressive (to the Russians) Western tech. Russia found that even when they had this tech they had a hard time duplicating it. Throughout the Cold War Russia continued to fear the Western edge in tech and the Russian inability to manufacture it themselves. That changed after the Soviet Union disappeared in 1991 and a new democratic (for a decade or so) Russia had free access to Western manufacturing technology as well as the tech itself. During the last decade Russia has again gone to war with the West and no longer has all that access to Western tech and is feeling the widening gap between Russian and Western technical capabilities. China has long learned from Soviet and Russian mistakes and is now nearly equal to the West in terms of tech and a much more formidable foe for the West and, if need be, Russia. China is replacing Russia as the primary trade partner of the central Asian states that were more part of the Soviet Union and later post-Soviet Russia. The war in Ukraine has given China the opportunity to completely replace Russia in Central Asia, where Russia is facing growing Chinese activity. Russia long believed their eastern flank was secure but now there is a potential threat from China and a two-front war if Russia survives the current conflict with Ukraine and its NATO allies.

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