Military might of Putin’s Russia – reality, lies, and failures

RIGA, (BM) – All of us wish to be valued and respected, and some don’t care about what means this is achieved. This situation can be done with someone’s actions and attitude towards others or using intimidation and threats. In the first case, the respect gained is long-lasting, while in the second case, the care lasts only while the person holds power and influence. When their power is gone, people’s attitudes change.

This is the case with individuals; for instance, a scientist or an artist is respected because of their work. Therefore people listen to them, or a criminal who uses intimidation and brute force to make people listen to him. This applies to nations as well – some gain respect because of the achievements of their scientists, athletes, and artists, while some do the same by showing off their weapons and staging displays of power for their neighbors. Of course, a nation must ensure its safety, but this can also be done without boasting, which most of the time is just empty noise.

Regardless, headlines in Russian media outlets are staggering – for example, “UK is scared of Russia’s terrifying missile.” The article cites the British newspaper Express called Russia’s RS-28 “Sarmat” ICBM “terrifying” and added that the missile could be fitted with ten thermonuclear warheads capable of destroying areas the size of France. I was slightly surprised when I saw this article, so I looked for the source. I didn’t find the Express item, so I tried a search engine, and there were indeed articles that contained both “Sarmat” and “France,” but they were published between 2016 and 2018. The only report that mentioned that the Russian nuclear weapon could destroy an area the size of France was an article from 11 May 2016.

Interestingly, the article I mentioned previously was published very recently – on 4 January 2021, and in the report, the Brits are citing Russian officials. However, now Russian media outlets are republishing this article and presenting it as something new and as something that the Brits have said. This is classic information warfare, but this time against Russia’s people – to evoke patriotic feelings.

What concerns Russia’s attempts to “raise its prestige” by citing foreign publications is one notable peculiarity. Russia doesn’t mention the exact article, but instead the media outlet that published it. This can be compared with citing your national library as a source.

Next example: on 10 January 2021, the regime’s news site ria.ru published an article titled “National Interest evaluates the power of Russia’s tactical nuclear arsenal.” To show you how Russia manipulates information, I will provide you with the Russian version of the article and the original article.

So, Russian media wrote: “По его словам, широко распространено мнение, будто у России есть от трех до шести тысяч ядерных боеголовок — то есть меньше, чем у СССР. Однако это не так: у России больше всего тактических ядерных боеголовок в мире.” But the original text was: “The Russian Federation is widely believed to possess around 3,000 to 6,000 tactical nuclear warheads; that number is significantly down from its Soviet predecessor, which owned at least 13,000 and as many as 22,000 tactical warheads by the end of the Cold War in 1991. But Russia continues to have the most tactical nuclear warheads in the world, and there are no signs that this will change anytime soon.”

There are significant differences between both articles. The original article names the approximate number of warheads in Russia’s possession by comparing it to the number of warheads the USSR had [which had a lot more] but adds that regardless Russia currently has the most warheads of any nation in the world. However, the article in Russian says that: “It’s widely believed that Russia has 3,000 to 6,000 warheads, which is less than the USSR had, but this is not true: Russia has the most warheads of any nation in the world.”

The article in Russia manipulates the information to create the impression that Russia isn’t doing worse than the USSR.

Let’s return to the RS-28 “Sarmat” missile. I will cite only the information published by Russian media outlets regarding the missile’s testing and commissioning.

On 10 August 2016, the missiles’ mass deliveries to military units would begin in 2018-2019. On 7 September of the same year, it was said that flight tests of the missile would start in 2018, and mass deliveries to military units will take place no later than in 2019. We can see that already after a month, Russia postponed the deliveries by a year. On 2 January 2021, Russia announced that Sarmat missiles’ deliveries to military units would begin in 2021. Will this indeed be the case – no one can answer this question. Russia loves to boast, but it seems that that’s the only thing it’s capable of.

Some might say – it’s no easy task to develop and build a missile. I agree, but is this the first case when Russia officially says that a weapon will be delivered very soon and then postpones the date of deliveries several times? If it’s only one such case – no problem; however, it’s impossible not to look at it like it’s empty boasting when this becomes a trend.

Let’s look at the T-14 “Armata” tanks. In 2016, it was reported that the army is to receive 70 mass-produced tanks by 2020. On 21 August 2018, information appeared that in 2018 the army had already ordered 100 tanks. And in 2019, an article was published titled “The dates are set – Armata is on its way to units.” The article informed that the first batch of tanks would be delivered to the army in late 2019 or early 2020. As you have probably guessed, the years 2018, 2019, and 2020 have passed, however on 2 January 2021, an article appears informing what armaments the army is to receive in 2021.

It’s stated that the Russian Ministry of Defense may commission the T-14 “Armata” tank. Do you see the difference? If there were talks of a particular number of T-14 deliveries to military units, now it’s stated that the tank only may be commissioned. How could there have been mass deliveries in the previous years if the tank hasn’t even been commissioned yet?

Okay, perhaps the situation with the T-14, just as with the “Sarmat,” is an exception. Let’s continue.

Moscow announced that by the end of 2020, the Russian Navy would receive the Borei-class submarine, Knyaz Oleg. Of course, this didn’t happen. What concerns this particular project, Russia has even stopped giving any specific dates, only saying that the Navy may receive the submarine in 2021.

What can we conclude from all this? First, Russia eagerly tries to maintain the myth of its greatness in the media. Second, Russia’s announcements, especially when looked at over a more extended period, reveal that it’s military production capabilities are significantly lower than what it tries to paint with its political announcements. Therefore, the respect I mentioned at the beginning of the articles is earned by Russia using lies.

Russia wants to be perceived as great and powerful; it wants everyone to be afraid of it but in reality. Some of you might again argue that I’ve looked at elaborate, large-scale armaments that aren’t that easy to produce. It’s possible, but let’s remember how Putin himself said that Russia wouldn’t be able to make the required number of its vaccines due to the lack of equipment. All of this proves that Russia’s production as a whole – not only military production – has collapsed, which will only lead to Putin’s Russia’s collapse. It’s the same when you cover an old, run-down building with a pretty poster.

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