Does the Russian economy correspond to the Russian foreign strategy?
Written by Constantine Sivkov, appeared at VPK; translated by Don Courter exclusively for SouthFront
Russian foreign relations enter into contradiction with production opportunities?
Russian foreign vectors and internal politics are diametrically opposed. The first is leading to the revivification of Russian status and influence on the world stage and the second is pulling the country to the direction of liberalism, depriving Russia’s foreign policy initiatives of adequate financial support.
The end of November, continuing into early December, was a time of many significant geopolitical events. Turkey’s recent downing of our SU-24 bomber followed by Ankara’s insistent refusal to recognize the illegality of their aggression and apologize. The sanctions imposed on Russia and the publishing of compelling evidence that revealed Turkey’s bulk purchases of oil from ISIS are both related to the political maneuvers of the American and European elites. The Turkish military’s invasion of Iraq caused much outrage with Baghdad and Ankara’s request of Russia for an extension of bombing coverage into Iraq to strike enemy troops – i.e to protect the Mosul Turkish tank battalion. All of these events formed the backdrop in which the Parisian terrorist attacks and the destruction of a Russian plane over the Sinai Peninsula occurred, starting with the actions of the French navy and British Air Force against Russia’s ban on the “Islamic State” that resulted from President Hollande’s unsuccessful attempt to create a Russian – Western anti-terrorist coalition.
Military tension in the region surrounding our borders is growing very rapidly and what is most unpleasant is the fact that this is drawing our country into a large-scale armed confrontation with the most powerful radical groups in the near and middle east – groups which are funded by the USA, gulf monarchies, and Turkey. This confrontation threatens a direct collision with NATO countries. Russia, accepting the challenge, decided to increase its presence in Syria by accelerating the construction of new airbases in southern Homs, to increase the combat strength of our air force in Syria until 100 planes are stationed, and perhaps more in the future. These forces can have significant influence on the war not only singularly, but also on very important areas of the country. There is no doubt that the answer to this question concerning the USA and its allies will appear in a very short time. And this answer might take the form of an increased delivery of weapons and military equipment for the rebels (of course under the guise of equipment for “moderate rebels”), but also preparation for an invasion of Syria by NATO ground forces. Most likely, the appearance of Turkish tank battalions in Iraq would be just the kind of “reconnaissance” that would reveal how Russia behaves in such a situation.
The message from our country’s president to the federal assembly attentively took into account information from all political and military analysts, experts, and a significant portion of compatriots. So much attention is understandable in determining our country’s line of conduct in a very critical period and its success depends, most importantly, on the perseverance and well-being of every one of us. However, judging by the sufficient criticisms of experts and the swift curtailment of debate in the media, hopeful Russians are not coming forward en masse.
If one generalizes the various statements made by experts and normal people, the main reason for such a reaction may call the apparent inconsistency between foreign vectors and internal politics.
Towards restoring the status – to the limit
If considering the course of Russian foreign relations, which was clearly articulated in the president’s message, it concretely determines how independent and very active, focused on protecting national interests and its allies in all key regions of the world, the country is in hot spots. The president cautioned our “partners” of reckless actions, saying that the answer could not only lie within the sphere of economics. The hints are obvious enough, if the “leak” of information from the “status-6” system and the demonstrative application of Russian SKR “caliber” and X-101 in Syria are taken into account. Beating these missiles with guerrilla tactics is quite unthinkable, but the price of these weapons is incomparably higher than those of our enemies – meaning that the starts were not so much militarily significant, as they were political: in order to show the power of Russian weaponry to the west. But in the modern world, any more or less prominent military efforts continue their efforts with enough financial support. It is worth it to stop here. The operations of our aviation groups give enough cause for alarm.
First of all, one must pay exclusive attention to the extreme tension of the use of air force planes. According to the mass media, the Syrian military operations in two months are thanks to the intense work of the aviators using, on average, 1.8-2 departures for every machine per day. From the experience of wars in the second half of 20th century and the first 15 years of the new one, the conduct of aerial offensives has been controlled for four or five days, and the intensity of the use of aircraft does not exceed 1.4 departures per day. And during the air campaign, including 2-3 air offensives in half of a month there were on average 0.8-1.1 tactical aviation sorties. That is our Air Force’s operations with otherworldly intensity.
A similar pattern of fire missions was carried out by one plane. According to the experience of defeat, single small objects are assigned at least a pair of planes. If this object is covered or the air defense system has good structural protection features in relation to the fortifications, the number of strike aircraft increases a level or more. That is, the departure for one plane should yield 0.5 or less fire missions, and yet Russian planes in Syria usually complete 2 or more fire missions. Until the destruction of the SU-24 aircraft, our planes operated singularly and with significantly high risk of losses caused by anti aircraft defenses that complicate the tasks necessary to eliminate targets. Comparing the volume of the solution to our aviation grouping fire missions for the period of its conduction of combat operation in Syria with the requirement of force used with a normal voltage, we can say that our group regimental scale acted with the intensity of the division.
This indicates one thing: insufficient capacity. What prevents an increase in strength of the task forces? We can assume that it is the lack of sufficient operational capacity of the airfield network. However, the time to expand the same Hmeymim was sufficient. The solution lies with limited use of long-range aircraft. After a few obstacles, the TU-22M3 ceased their use of gravity bombs on ground targets. The probable reason for this is that high-precision destruction of the targets is the foremost objective. And this is only possible with the VTO or the SVP-24, which applies free-fall bombs with exceptional accuracy. Precision weapons, however, are not enough for Russia, and, therefore, planes with SVP-24 are all already in Syria. Perhaps it is because over the past two months there are planes equipped with a subsystem of the machine, and it became possible to increase the quantity of our planes there.
Another possibility is the shortage of trained pilots. This is a major obstacle in being able to use fighters off of our aircraft carrier in Syria. Its capabilities are very limited in the destruction of ground forces, but additional increases of combat capabilities within our forces of 15-20% would be very helpful.
However, the main contribution to the defeat of irregular forces also contributes to the ground forces. Accordingly, the main “tool” for fire damage is field artillery. Field artillery is most responsible for suppressing or destroying the enemy and is able to provide a breakthrough in the enemy’s defensive line. October 7th began a Syrian offensive with an unprecedented pace: 50-70 kilometers, and the main contribution to this was the introduction of field artillery with the purpose of organizing a “barrage”. However, ammunition consumption was enormous. So, if installing “Grad” will only produce two volleys per day, it will release 80 shells. Self-propelled artillery ammunition plants must therefore produce 40 to 50 shells that can be released for 7-12 minutes. Accordingly, the period of implementation for fire support tasks (20-40 minutes or more) can release 1.5-2 ammunition shells per minute, ie 60-100 per fire task. Even during the Great Patriotic War (since the end of 1942), our artillery created at least 100-120 barrels per kilometer in order to break through the enemy’s defense (the figure reached 300 or more). That is, upon the occurrence in the band of about 10 kilometers of the number of artillery systems should be at least about a thousand and one day they release the onset of about 100 thousand shells. Is this a lot or a little? Here it is worth recalling an article in “Military Industrial Complex”. A leading expert in the field of ammunition Yuri Shabalin, who, lamenting the sad state of affairs in industry, said that we need to be able to produce at least one million artillery rounds per year. That is, for a day of conducting operations in the area just 10 kilometers require more than the monthly rate of production of ammunition. But 10 kilometers are only a small fragment of the band Army scale offensive categories and the continued operation of this kind of at least five – seven days.
But in addition to field artillery, shells are needed for anti tank weapons, tanks, and infantry. To maintain a more or less serious military conflict with the enemy, we need millions of rounds of ammunition to be produced in a month, or possibly even shorter an amount of time. Russia has that kind of capacity today, according to experts.
However, shells are not the only important matter. Missiles are being made at the same inadequate rate. Judging by the interval between the first and second missile strikes, production of such weapons in Russia is by almost two orders of magnitude smaller than in the US. And we also must produce significantly more actual military equipment for the Air Force, ground forces, and the Navy. Our country remains in need of basic industrial products for the defense industry, especially microelectronics. Termination of our supply from abroad has retarded the distribution of high-tech military products. Restoration of the facilities for the production of the shells is further hampered by the lack of modern machinery equipment for its own production, in particular, multi-spindle machines, which in soviet times were made in sufficient quantities.
The Manufacture of Intertia
It can be noted that without a large-scale restoration of the industrial potential of our country to a new technological level with the re-creation of entire industries from scratch to support the president, his foreign policy demands will be impossible. This calls for the consolidation of society on the idea of the reconstruction of the country, bringing a mass organization of people who are able to organize such a large-scale job and to provide a clear coordinated functioning of all spheres of life. This is the dream heard by Russian patriots in the message of our president. However, the domestic political part of the document was from a pronounced liberal. It is unlikely that this will facilitate the destruction of the real corruption and the decriminalization of the sphere of enterprise by transferring a number of economic crimes from criminal to administrative discharge. And it is unlikely to save the law abiding merchants from pursuing selfish officials. There is little hope that a 6 month “amnesty” for capital will have them return to Russia. For those who are not serious criminals, their property would have been returned. And others will not return for the simple reason that they backed crimes in the 90s. But the question is that our leadership at least thinks about social justice, because the return of capital means its owners are forgiven. This is unlikely to contribute to the consolidation of the people around the government, rather the opposite, especially when you consider that the concept of “social justice” in the letter did not resound once.
The letter also does not offer concrete measures to change our economic situation. There must be, at least, a clear plan of coordinated activities of the various sectors of our economy, oriented to the revival of the mentioned key areas of production. However, a recreation of the State Planning Commission in any way would not happen. Instead, the task would be the full implementation of various projects, both public and private. This will certainly contribute to the development of the economy, however, will not allow, within a reasonable time, for the revival of our industrial base. Moreover, there was no mention of strategic industry nationalization, without which it is impossible to revive the economy of a sovereign nation and to bring the country out of commodity dependence. Particularly disturbing was the advisability of further privatizations across the country.
Bewilderment due to the high rating given in the Epistle to the reform of education and science of the negative consequences that the public always speaks of. There was not a call to withdraw from areas under foreign control. It is well known that the leading Russian scientific centers are often run by citizens of other countries, sometimes conducting hostile policy towards Russia.
Realistic measures to install “effective managers” were not suggested – those who are experts in their respective fields of industrial activity. The emphasis on public-private partnership in the ASI as a key tool selection and promotion of promising projects and staff leaves little hope for the revival of the country’s industrial potential. It is no accident in the last few months, and subject to the import substitution industry receded, at least in the media.