After several months of wandering, Russian industrial strategy is now contributing to profoundly upsetting the balance of power in the short, medium and long term around the Ukrainian conflict and beyond.
Since the start of the military aggression against Ukraine, the Russian armies have suffered very significant losses, particularly in terms of armor. More than 1,600 Russian heavy tanks, but also almost 3,500 heavy armored vehicles and 300 mobile artillery systems were destroyed, damaged or captured by the Ukrainians in a documented manner , i.e. between 20 and 60% of its Russian stockpiles. pre-war, according to equipment categories.
Ukrainian losses, for their part, are also significant, but to a lesser extent, with 450 tanks, less than 900 heavy armored vehicles and around a hundred mobile artillery systems documented, but these losses still represent 20 to 40% of its initial stocks.
Furthermore, the Ukrainian armies received, from the first weeks of engagement, additional equipment, in particular heavy armored vehicles supplied by Eastern European countries, including Polish T-72 and PT-91 tanks and Czechs, as well as BMP1/2 infantry fighting vehicles and S-300 anti-aircraft systems.
At the same time, the Russian defense industry was facing the consequences of Western sanctions, with a very significant slowdown in production rates, particularly in terms of armored vehicles .
Thus, the famous Uralvagonzavod plant in Nizhny Tagil, which produced the T-72B3M, T-80BVM and T-90M tanks, as well as the BMP-2M infantry fighting vehicles, was almost at a standstill between April and June.
In fact, even with low production capacities, Ukraine managed, in particular by relying on captured equipment, but also on the industrial capacities of some of its European neighbors to repair its armored vehicles, to maintain a positive dynamic, and to erode the initial Russian numerical advantage, to the point that now the two forces are relatively equal in terms of heavy armor.
And the upcoming arrival of American Bradley and German Marder infantry fighting vehicles and French AMX-10RC light tanks may seem to bode well for the balance of power in favor of Ukraine. However, since this summer, Moscow has changed its industrial strategy, redistributing the cards in this conflict.
Indeed, once the initial shock of Western sanctions passed, Russian manufacturers, in particular those involved in the production of armored vehicles, reorganized their production, but also their supply chain, even if it meant giving up certain capacities on the models manufactured. .
Thus, the same Uralvagonzavod factory has resumed, since the beginning of autumn, the production of heavy tanks, in this case the transformation of T-72A into T-72B3M, of T-80BV into T-80BVM, of T- 90A in T-90M and BMP-2 in BMP-2M (M for modernized), as well as the construction of new T-90M, at a now very sustained rate of 40 to 50 armored vehicles per month, or four times more than that pre-war.
To achieve this, the Russian Defense Industry turned largely to electronic components from China and Hong Kong to replace the European, Japanese and American semiconductors used until then, and certain capacities were withdrawn or degraded, particularly in terms of night vision and aiming, due to less efficient components, or the absence of certain non-substitutable components.
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