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Post Russia's Military Prowess is Vastly Overrated
Created by John Eipper on 02/02/21 3:25 AM

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Russia's Military Prowess is Vastly Overrated (Boris Volodarsky, Austria, 02/02/21 3:25 am)

A kind of a Ukrainian equivalent of the late Larry King is a man named Dmitry Gordon. His long interviews are very impressive and entertaining and he manages to get interesting people from all over the world, but primarily the Russians and Ukrainians, to meet him and answer his questions. One of the recent guests was Captain Gary (Yuri) Tabach.

One can see that Tabach is a professional military man and as such his opinion is worth taking into account. During a two plus hours interview (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9lnSp93GMo ) last September, among other things the Ukrainian journalist and the US captain discussed the state of the Russian military. "The strength of the Russian army is nothing but a fiction," Mr. Tabach said. "Look, there has never been an exercise of the Russian military in which a soldier would not have died, where journalists or observers were not shot at, something did not explode, or a ship did not sink. I was present at many Russian exercises and can say they are never properly coordinated, the command is unprofessional... and if you take their only aircraft carrier (Admiral) Kuznetsov (completed in 1991), it is nothing else but an old wreck (an 'old trough' in Russian)."

Especially for this WAIS post, I have checked several reliable reviews of the Russian military. It is true that in the Global Firepower Nations index 2021 Russia is ranking second, only after the United States (https://www.globalfirepower.com/country-military-strength-detail.asp?country_id=russia#:~:text=For%202021%2C%20Russia%20is%20ranked,generate%20a%20'PwrIndx'%20score .).

However, it is lacking in some areas of modern military technology, including drone capability, electronic components, and radar and satellite reconnaissance, Russian journalist and military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer told Deutsche Welle, "That's what the Russian military is talking about: yes, we have weapons, including long-range weapons, but our reconnaissance capabilities are weaker than our attack capabilities," Felgenhauer said. "So we have-long range, sometimes precision-guided weapons, but we don't always know where the target is." And, another Russian military analyst Aleksandr Golts added, the United States have an overwhelming advantage over Russia in conventional forces.

Russian Armed Forces' successes and advances notwithstanding, another military analyst Dmitry Trenin says, Russia's defence industry exhibits a number of serious problems. Russia's financial resources are limited. The 10-year rearmament program was capped at 19 trillion roubles, the equivalent of about $700 billion when it was launched, and only less than half that amount by the time of its completion, due to the rouble's devaluation.

Even this level of funding is being revised downward. In the last two years, Russia's procurement budget has been only $20 billion. What Russia has been able to do with such a budget may be impressive, but it is also limited. On top of that, there is a generally poor business model, with a fair amount of mismanagement, corruption and outright theft. The workforce is aging, and in a number of areas the Soviet-era technological prowess has been lost, perhaps irretrievably. Some key and highly publicized programs have stalled.

Answering the question about the Kremlin's priorities for 2021, Mr Trenin commented: "Looking ahead, further development of Russia's defense industry will continue to be a priority for the Kremlin. Confrontation with the United States, which now also includes a military standoff in Europe's east, overseas operations and military contingencies along Russia's far-flung borders in Eurasia, will stimulate new weapons development and deployment."

As for John E's question about Rosgvardiya, this Wikipedia article provides the general overview:


JE comments:  I'll do an armchair (actually, sofa) analysis of Russia's military.  Historically they have been unbeatable on their own immense territory, but inept at "projecting" force elsewhere.  One exception would be 1944-'45, as the Red Army steamrolled to Berlin.  Still, Russia at $65 billion in military spending does far better than one-eleventh as well as the US with its $732 billion.  The US is legendary for doing more with far more.

Sunday, January 31st, saw another round of protests throughout Russia on the Navalny jailing.  The police response was brutal.  Boris, any new insights?  Predictions?

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  • Navalny Sentenced (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 02/03/21 4:23 AM)
    Alexei Navalny was on trial yesterday (February 2nd).

    The state prosecutor demanded 2.5 years in a prison colony and the court retired, probably to hear the final call from the Presidential Administration regarding their decision.

    About the events in Moscow and St Petersburg on 31 January, everybody can make his and her (and whatever the neutral gender is) own judgement:


    Predictions? I guess they will lock him up.

    JE comments: And indeed they have. Boris Volodarsky sent this post yesterday afternoon, and his prediction was right on the money:  2 years and 8 months.  The question now:  will the mass unrest continue, or will the Russian people soon forget about Navalny?  A high-profile political prisoner is a huge liability, both at home and abroad.  What inspired Putin to create his own Nelson Mandela?  Fear?  Stupidity?  Ruthless calculation?


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    • Protests in Russia, Protests in Washington... (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 02/04/21 3:44 AM)
      I was shocked to see the YouTube video presented by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty attached to Boris Volodarsky's post of 3 February. What police brutality!  Such acts could not happen in the civilized and democratic West such as the US...or maybe it would be worse?

      Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is a US government-funded organization supervised by the US Agency for Global Media, broadcasting in 27 languages. Radio Free Europe was founded in 1949 for anti-communist propaganda.

      As I have written before, I was a great fan of Radio Free Europe, always listening to it while at sea.  I cannot forget how during the heroic Hungarian fight against the Soviet Forces in the fall of 1956 the transmissions were continuously inciting the poor Hungarians to keep on fighting, as the free countries would never leave them to their fate...

      The Soviets were on the air with Radio Moscow World Service (starting in 1925), broadcasting in 70 languages at its top, also featuring excellent classical music.  After 1993 it became the Voice of Russia, while presently China Radio International works in 46 languages.

      As so well said by Boris and by our esteemed moderator, the arrest of Navalny, officially for embezzlement, has led to a lot of protests.  Now Bastian Contrario asks:

      Suppose that the countries outside the Empire asked for the immediate freeing of the people that protested in and outside the Capitol in Washington, and if their diplomats showed their support during the trials, what would American opinion be?

      Italian television is full of condemnations of the huge deployment of policemen to face the pro-Navalny protesters, but few have considered the 25,000 police and National Guards prepared for war on every corner of Washington in order to face possible pro-Trump protesters.  Oh, well, there are more than 28,500 US troops in South Korea to face the evil from the North.

      JE comments:  O Bastian!  I first read your hypothetical last night, and have been thinking about it ever since.  My knee-jerk reply would be that the Russian protests are against a corrupt authoritarian, while their Washington counterparts were for one.  Yet there are other ways to interpret the events.  Laws were broken in both countries, even though I take it for granted that Putin's laws against the protests aren't fair or "democratic."

      Please correct me if I oversimplify.

      On another topic, does anyone in WAISworld listen to China Radio International?   If so, please tell us more.

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    • Russia Today: A Photo (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 02/04/21 4:14 AM)

      No comment needed.

      JE comments:   WAIS thanks the AP's Dmitri Lovetsky for the photo, and Boris Volodarsky for sending it.  Boris appended no comment, but I'm sure this image will inspire other WAISers to do so.

      The protesters all appear to be in the under-30 demographic.  A pandemic-era curiosity:  they are unmasked except for one guy in the background.  I do see "lowered" masks on a couple of others.  Did the riot police/stormtroopers strip them of their Covid protection--as well as of their anonymity?


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