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​In Addition to Microcircuits, russia Has Another Sensitive Vulnerability - Without Bearings, ‘Nothing Will Spin’ At All

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Sanctions against the russian federation as aggressor state should lead to something similar / Illustrative photo by theexbrit - Flickr
Sanctions against the russian federation as aggressor state should lead to something similar / Illustrative photo by theexbrit - Flickr

Behind the shortage of conventional bearings is the Kremlin's failure to wage a war of attrition

When it comes to sanctions against the russian federation, foreign-made microcircuits come first, the dependence on which is critical for the production of the entire range of weapons in the russian federation, despite the fact that the russians are trying to solve this problem by using "civilian" components available on the market.

But, in addition to russia's dependence on the import of electronic components, there is another area where russian dependence is critical - bearings. Attention is paid to this topic in a detailed report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). In particular, this think tank reports that in 2020, the russian federation imported $419 million worth of bearings, which are used in the production of any vehicles and engines. At the same time, 55% of imports came from North America and Europe, and the largest seller of these products was Germany - 17%.

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The general dependence of the russian federation on the import of conventional bearings is critical, because it is not only about the production of military equipment, starting with cars, ending with planes, tanks and submarines, but also about the need for railway transport. And the work of the russian economy as a whole already depends on the latter.

Undercarriage of the T-72 tank where bearings play very important role, In Addition to Microcircuits, russia Has Another Sensitive Vulnerability, Without Bearings, Nothing Will Spin At All, Defense Express
Undercarriage of the T-72 tank where bearings play very important role

On the part of Defense Express, we note that although the russian federation has its own manufacturers of bearings, which covered about 40% of the needs of the russian industry, a significant part of them were Western enterprises, for example, the Swedish SKF, which left the country in April 2022. In addition, a large share of enterprises producing bearings in the russian federation were joint ventures. For example, the largest production association in the russian federation, "European Bearing Corporation" ("Европейская подшипниковая корпорация" in Russian), worked closely with the American Amsted Rail. Together with another company from the USA - Timken, German Schaeffler and Japanese NSK, they all left the russian federation after this country unleashed a large-scale aggression against Ukraine.

In the russian federation, this situation already caused a certain panic in the summer of 2022, and in particular, on russian railways, the norms of admission and inspection were significantly relaxed in order not to put wagons and locomotives in the pit. And the Kremlin began to say that "there is no reason to panic" and "the situation is under control" because China is there. At the same time, the anti-dumping duty of 41.5% and the import duty of 10% for Chinese products were not removed.

No bearings - no rail transport -  no country's economy, In Addition to Microcircuits, russia Has Another Sensitive Vulnerability, Without Bearings, Nothing Will Spin At All, Defense Express
No bearings - no rail transport - no country's economy

At the same time, CSIS rightly points out that China and other manufacturers from East Asia, such as Malaysia, can partially cover the need for bearings. But no one removes the issue of quality, which directly affects the reliability of the equipment. And for our part, we should note that Western manufacturers also produced certain types of quite specific products and ensured the corresponding manufacturing accuracy as well.

That is, additional attention specifically to the topic of bearings in terms of imposing sanctions and limiting the channels of their entry into the russian federation is a rather effective method of influencing the aggressor state.

In Addition to Microcircuits, russia Has Another Sensitive Vulnerability, Without Bearings, Nothing Will Spin At All, Defense Express
Behind the shortage of conventional bearings is the Kremlin's failure to wage a war of attrition

In particular, this will reduce the rate of production of military equipment in the russian federation, weaken its economy, which, together with the strengthening of support for Ukraine by Western weapons, will change the balance of power. That is, the Armed Forces of Ukraine will begin to receive more weapons than the russian army has, and this will mean the impossibility of the Kremlin's strategy of waging a war of attrition.

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