Weapons Production in russia Surges Despite Western Sanctions

russian Tu-95MS bomber loaded with Kh-101 cruise missiles / Open source illustrative photo
russian Tu-95MS bomber loaded with Kh-101 cruise missiles / Open source illustrative photo

Western sanctions have failed to undermine russia’s weapons production and moscow has even managed to ramp up the manufacturing of key weapons to fuel its war against Ukraine, according to a new report by a London-based think tank

This is reported by NBC News with reference to the Royal United Services Institute.

The sanctions effort has been hampered by overly cautious decision-making by Western governments and delays in sharing intelligence among Western allies, said the report by the Royal United Services Institute.

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"Although the U.S. and its partners have touted an array of sanctions over the past two years to choke off Moscow’s access to key parts needed to build weapons, russia has dramatically increased the production of artillery rounds, cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and drones since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022," according to the report.

In 2021, before russian forces invaded, Moscow produced 56 Kh-101 cruise missiles a year. By last year, it had manufactured 460 cruise missiles, according to the report. russia’s stock of Iskander ballistic missiles also has increased dramatically, from about 50 before the invasion to 180, even though russia has launched large numbers of the missiles on the battlefield, it said.

russian 9M723 ballistic missile
russian 9M723 ballistic missile / Open source illustrative photo

To make munitions for missiles and drones, russia depends on micro-electronics imported from abroad, but U.S. and European measures have failed to block moscow’s access to those electronic components. russia has maintained an ample supply of antennas manufactured by an Irish company that are used in glide kits for bombs, according to the report.

The expansion of russia’s weapons production offers clear evidence that thousands of Western sanctions have proved ineffective, the report said. “In summary, despite the diligent efforts of many civil servants, backed by the political will to disrupt russia’s military–industrial output, there is little to show for it,” it said.

The authors of the report argue that it is still possible for the U.S. and its allies to choke off the supply or prohibitively raise the cost of electronic components, machine tooling and raw materials needed for russia’s weapons production.

To make sanctions stick, governments need to share relevant intelligence — including classified information — rapidly to allow for timely enforcement of export controls or action. Western governments should form an “intelligence fusion center” that could build “a common recognized target picture of the russian defense industry,” it said.

Better intelligence sharing would also allow allies to undertake coordinated action — including clandestine measures — to undercut russia’s weapons production, the report said.

There are “multiple stages throughout the production process where intervention, both overt and covert, can cause delay, the degradation in quality, or a serious increase in cost to russia’s arms production,” the report said.

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