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The current time is: 12/15/2017 11:03:46 AM
 (2000-Pres) Current Day Military talk (No Partisan Politics)    
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kaii
Edinburgh, UK
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1947

Russia confirms defence budget cuts
Posted on: 3/20/2017 5:47:35 PM
rather than do a Soviet Union and collapse due to unsustainable military spending, it looks like Putin has realised that Russia is not in a position to keep up their defence spending, and consequently the cuts announced in the 2016 budget for the 2017-2019 period have now been confirmed. It is widely expected that further cuts will come and several high profile projects, like the Armata tank, has been stopped for now.

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---------------
You can be a Dictator or you can design ladies undergarments. You can't do both (Bertie Wooster)

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major
Moderator


Posts: 1457

Re: Russia confirms defence budget cuts
Posted on: 3/20/2017 7:14:39 PM
Kai, I'm astounded! At the same time, it is good to know that nations that wish to be major powers don't feel increased military spending is the only way to maintain strength or win hearts and minds. We talked about this some time ago on MHO, but it's good to see confirmation.

Whether this will have a major effect on Russian presence in Eastern Europe will have to be seen, I guess. Most NATO nations are dancing to a Russian tune in the Baltic, and Russian pressure doesn't seem to be easing in Eastern Ukraine or the general area of the Black Sea. IIUC, the Russians have massive armaments in hand and massive troops on call if required. I have to assume, however, that the quality of troops grows less with time, and that the armaments on hand become more obsolete with age. Still, even a relatively few armed bodies can have an impact, as Crimea indicated.

I can't see the current NATO movements in Poland stopping because of this announcement. Bellarus and Kalliningrad are still "places of interest" to the West, and there have been reports about weapons build-ups in Kalliningrad in particular. But in the overall nature of things, surely this latest announcement from Russia is good news?

Or are you (and some of our other posters with special interests in Eastern Europe) aware of something going on to make the announcement less positive than it appears to be to me?

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

mine run
Halifax Co., VA, USA
top 40
E-4 Corporal
Posts: 97

Re: Russia confirms defence budget cuts
Posted on: 3/20/2017 10:17:21 PM
On the surface this news would appear to be very positive. I wonder though, just what this means. What percentage are the cuts and in what areas other than the tanks you mention? If they have been spending more or even far more than they need to wage war with NATO, then the percentage of the cuts could be meaningless just as easily as they could be draconian. And how about their Air Force? We in the US constantly hear about our depleted Air Force which is said to be having to resort to cannibalizing old planes stored in our western deserts? I doubt that naval forces would be seriously engaged by either side in any sudden push into eastern Europe or the Baltics, or, the Ukraine for that matter. No WW II style blockade would be a factor because Russia is more than self sufficient with oil and its friends in Iran could cause major distractions to spread the ready military resources currently available to the West unacceptably thin. Our own military leaders in the US have said that we (US) are no longer capable of fighting a two front war.

Question: Do we in the West have verifiable facts as to actual total strengths of Russian combat arms at this date and how do they compare with available combat arms with NATO? For example. how many infantry divisions, how many tanks in their Armored Corps and how many field artillery battalions? How about logistics? Are their numbers sufficient to overwhelm the Nato frontier defenses and capitals or major cities in the Baltic States and eastern European countries which border Russia before a strong enough NATO force could be brought to bear from the scattered Western European countries? How does the current concentration of available combat arms in Russia compare with NATO at present?

Economic instability is often a precursor to aggression. It gives leaders under domestic pressure a convenient excuse to start rattling sabres against perceived enemies in order to distract their populace from leadership's own failures. and corruption. I do not trust Putin to
actually try to make peaceful economic reforms by enacting any form of austerity to improve his country's economy. It seems clear that his goal is to "restore" Russia to its former"greatness" on the world stage. Doesn't his pretext for invading and annexing the Crimea ring any bells? Remember the excuse for seizing the Sudetenland a few decades ago? Santayana was right. When we we ever learn?

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3533

Re: Russia confirms defence budget cuts
Posted on: 3/21/2017 12:59:35 PM
MR,

 A few comments.

* What the actual effect of the cuts may be is that Putin will only be able to wage one major proxy war vice the two he is now engaged in. My guess is that Syria will take a backseat to keeping the conflict with Ukraine on the burner.

* Naval is big factor for NATO. Russian missiles and airpower have the ability to shut off the sea passage between western Poland and the Baltic Republics. This ability to interdict sea lanes is made worse by the narrowness of the land bridge between Poland and the Baltic Republics -- only some 60 miles wide and known in the U.S. military today as the "Suwalki Gap". This gets back to your comment about reinforcements from other NATO countries -- if Putin can squeeze the sea lanes and the Suwalki Gap long enough, his forces could overwhelm NATO forces in the Baltic Republics.

* Regarding economics, Putin may relax his stance against NATO if he believes that will drop the economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the West. Where the game goes from there is anyone's guess. As for "when we will ever learn" ... we did learn, but that generation has left this world and the new generation is too eaten up with Twitter and the Kardashians to give the lessons of history their due.

Image: Map of the region. Base map courtesy of Wikimedia. Blue countries belong to NATO. Yellow-orange represents a country engaged in open warfare with Russia. Grey is unaligned (although part of the grey region is a Russian Army colony called Transnistria and which borders Ukraine). "K" = Kaliningrad Oblast, part of Russia. The Suwalki Gap is the Polish terrain between Kaliningrad and Belarus.


Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

mine run
Halifax Co., VA, USA
top 40
E-4 Corporal
Posts: 97

Re: Russia confirms defence budget cuts
Posted on: 3/21/2017 2:24:30 PM
BW,.

Thanks for the info. Map really brings it into focus. I may have sorely over looked the aspect of a possible naval component to Russian aggression. I was predicating my navy comment on Russia's natural resources and on the possibility that a sudden, massive land and air offensive would render naval action moot. That goes back to my question of the strength of a Russian land army supported by heavy air power being concentrated so close to NATO borders that an understrenghned and scattered defensive force would possibly collapse much like Allied forces did in France early in WW II.

I hope it is aa simple a fact that Putin would abandon his visions of grandeur if sanctions were lifted and that the Russian economy would rebound thus removing his hostility. Call me a cynic, that's OK, but I still believe that his inflated sense of nationalism and possibly ego issues are at the root of it all. Never forget that he is ex KGB and the ruthlessness he and his cohorts display against any internal dissent should set off alarm bells just like Hitler's behavior in the 1930's all but telegraphed his intentions. I think the West needs Churchills, not
Chamberlins to confront Putin. I am sure that Putin remembers the doctrine of mutually assured destruction as well as the collapse of the Soviet Union. Any conflict in Europe would probably be settled in a conventional war.

I suspect the winner would be, as Forrest said, the one who got there "the firstest with the mostest" because I do not believe that the various NATO countries or even the US at this point has the stomach for another hot European war over the Ukraine or the Baltic states.

I know that sounds harsh but I think that is the Realpolitik of today.

MR

kaii
Edinburgh, UK
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1947

Re: Russia confirms defence budget cuts
Posted on: 3/21/2017 2:58:49 PM
Just also a couple of quick comments.

Although the Russian armed forces are big on paper (some 750k active forces and 2 mill reserves), the reality is that the greatest part of them are still stuck in the soviet era with equipment and doctrines from this time. The Russian armed forces are nowhere near a state where they could realistically take on NATO full scale and hope to win (without nuclear weapons). The massive Russian investment programme over the last 10 years or so has basically focused on getting Russian forces up to a minimum operational level, and update some key equipment to modern standards. Although the Russians have increased their defence budgets dramatically over the last 15 years, they are still massively outspent by European NATO alone - we tend to forget that the Russian economy is about the size of Italy's so it is not an economic superpower.

Although they now have some good fighters and air defence equipment, the numbers are too few to make much difference in a full scale war with NATO. Basically, The European NATO states would easily defeat Russia in a full scale conventional war, even without US assistance - given that the political will to fight is there.

This last point is really the key in Russian strategy and is the one key area (again except for nuclear weapons0 where the Russians actually have a massive advantage over the West - the willingness to use military force...
The Russians know perfectly well, of course, that they can not win a full scale war against NATO (hence the Gerasimov doctrine developed to fight hybrid wars in the background), but they also know that there is little stomach among politicians in NATO to actually stick up for the Baltic states if the Russians can present a fait accompli like in Crimea -especially if they get their friends in Front Nationale, AfD etc into political positions in Europe.

As MR correctly points out, Russian objectives are to re-establish control over the old Soviet territories, and there is little indication that these defence cuts will dramatically change the strategy of Russian policy. Putin has tied his entire political project to continued expansion of the spheres of influence and will start to struggle even more at home if he can not keep delivering small wins over the West and bit by bit restore Russian pride.

Experience from Chechnya, Georgia, and Ukraine, though, show that the Russians struggle to logistically keep military operations going above brigade strength for more than a week or so, and it is even unlikely that they would now have the necessary strength to fully defeat Ukraine and occupy that country - that window has probably closed. The engagement in Syria is winding down mostly because the Russians are at the end of their logistical ability, only about a third of the planes are now operational in the theatre and with the return of Admiral Kuzentzov (the"carrier") to Severomorsk for repairs scheduled to last a year, there is little left in the tank to keep pushing there. The Russians will do exactly enough to keep the regime from collapsing but will probably bring resources back home to focus on the Donbass again for a while now. This is partly confirmed by the fact that one can observe some of the same officers that were in Syria a month ago,now directing artillery along the front in Donbass.

K
---------------
You can be a Dictator or you can design ladies undergarments. You can't do both (Bertie Wooster)

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3533

Re: Russia confirms defence budget cuts
Posted on: 3/21/2017 3:56:03 PM
I still believe that his inflated sense of nationalism and possibly ego issues are at the root of it all.

MR,

 I agree with you, and would supplement your view with --

* Were Putin not in charge, it may be likely that Russian power politics would have found someone else similar to him;

* Putin reminds me of Hitler in one way, and that is, as I see it, his desire to live in a past that no longer exists. That is perhaps a curse that affects many people of a certain age ("those were the days!") ... but the danger in Russia is that there seem to be few institutional restraints upon Putin to pursue his vision ... and what restraints existed, he has systematically removed.

Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major
Moderator


Posts: 1457

Re: Russia confirms defence budget cuts
Posted on: 3/21/2017 7:14:40 PM
Will there ever come a time when Russia will not be seen as a latter-day USSR, and where the USSR will not be seen as the bogey-man?

I know I'm seen by some as a kind of peacenik, but Russia is not the threat the USSR once was. Hell, the USSR was never the threat the UR once was considered to be.

Russian desire for control or influence in areas where the Soviets once held sway shouldn't surprise anyone, and IMHO doesn't indicate a major threat. Their most effective pressure comes from economic weaknesses in former satellites that they can meet for an acceptable price, and from the continued existence of Russian-speaking enclaves within former satellites.

Is it fair to ask whether NATO has any commitment to Eastern Europe beyond a desire to continue to fight the Cold War by different means? If things get to nastiness, is NATO ready to go to war over Kaliningrad? Attacking an enemy's weakness isn't exactly a new concept, is it?

I'm not disagreeing with any posters on this thread. I feel I don't have the knowledge. At the same time, the posts suggest that Western policy (and maybe strategy) is based on old doctrine, on old values, and/or on old capabilities. I can't argue that because I don't have the knowledge. And I'm not desperate enough about the issue to drag out Cromwell's famous comment. I just have a sense that Russia is calling the tune concerning a potentially new war, because much of NATO is still considering the last one.

I'll stop now.

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

mine run
Halifax Co., VA, USA
top 40
E-4 Corporal
Posts: 97

Re: Russia confirms defence budget cuts
Posted on: 3/21/2017 8:07:48 PM
Kai,

Thanks for the stats. The comments of you and BW have helped me get a better handle on the situation as far as the capabilities of Russia are as opposed to NATO. I am not thoroughly convinced, that Putin could not audaciously spot a weakness in Western resolve and launch a lightning strike into Ukraine or the Baltics, grab territory and dare Nato to respond. He dared the West, agreed not NATO, in Crimea, Georgia and eastern Ukraine and is getting away with it despite sanctions.

Although he is no longer our president, I am sure Putin remembers Obama's famous "red line" fiasco. It might make him suspect of US resolve in general with Trump. The more fractured the EU becomes over some current issues, not immigration alone, and the longer the US goes without rebuilding its military, he may well decide that the West is too preoccupied with internal matters to spend blood and treasure defending other countries which are small potatoes in the grand scheme of things. This is not a derogatory comment directed at the Baltics but could well be the attitude of European/NATO governments if their citizens rebel against another war where there is nothing to gain other than honoring a piece of paper and but lots of lives and tax dollars to lose. Cynical? Maybe, but there doesn't seem to be much concept of honor left when it comes to politics.

There is another thing that leaves me unsettled as to Putin's long range goals, despite the announced Russian defense cuts and the state of its overall economy. Let us not overlook that we all seem to agree that perhaps Putin's prime reason for his antagonism of the West
seems to be Russian nationalism and its place in the pecking order of the world. Last year Putin ordered the expansion of its naval base at Tartus, Syria. Do you know, KAI, if those plans have been scrapped? Maybe he is willing to scrap some new tanks but is he willing to give up Tartus? As we all know, Assad is nothing more than a client state of Russia and Tartus is a quid pro quo of sorts. It is Russia's only Mediterranean port, a large facility that Russia depends upon to project its power in the area and to refuel and resupply its ship. If Putin is deadly serious about his goals, it seems to me that he would go to any lengths to keep that port. Thus, his support of Assad. Should we really believe reports that say supporting Assad is too burdensome for Russia, given its long term goals? Would Putin allow Assad to be deposed by an unfriendly regime, perhaps supported by the West? I am not so sure that he would.

Anyway, no more thoughts or speculation from me on this one. It has been interesting.

kaii
Edinburgh, UK
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1947

Re: Russia confirms defence budget cuts
Posted on: 3/21/2017 11:54:43 PM

Quote:


Although he is no longer our president, I am sure Putin remembers Obama's famous "red line" fiasco. It might make him suspect of US resolve in general with Trump. The more fractured the EU becomes over some current issues, not immigration alone, and the longer the US goes without rebuilding its military, he may well decide that the West is too preoccupied with internal matters to spend blood and treasure defending other countries which are small potatoes in the grand scheme of things. This is not a derogatory comment directed at the Baltics but could well be the attitude of European/NATO governments if their citizens rebel against another war where there is nothing to gain other than honoring a piece of paper and but lots of lives and tax dollars to lose. Cynical? Maybe, but there doesn't seem to be much concept of honor left when it comes to politics.


Pretty much spot on I think, Putin may well decide to try his luck and, to be honest, if the Russians can roll over the Baltic Republics in a week, especially if they do not have to kill too many of the NATO troops there, weak politicians may well decide that it is not worth fighting for. Such a decision would, of course destroy the very fabric of NATO and probably the EU.


Quote:

Last year Putin ordered the expansion of its naval base at Tartus, Syria. Do you know, KAI, if those plans have been scrapped? Maybe he is willing to scrap some new tanks but is he willing to give up Tartus? As we all know, Assad is nothing more than a client state of Russia and Tartus is a quid pro quo of sorts. It is Russia's only Mediterranean port, a large facility that Russia depends upon to project its power in the area and to refuel and resupply its ship. If Putin is deadly serious about his goals, it seems to me that he would go to any lengths to keep that port. Thus, his support of Assad. Should we really believe reports that say supporting Assad is too burdensome for Russia, given its long term goals? Would Putin allow Assad to be deposed by an unfriendly regime, perhaps supported by the West? I am not so sure that he would.

Anyway, no more thoughts or speculation from me on this one. It has been interesting.

--mine run


The Russians have already started to expand Tartus MR, and are definitely in for the long run.They willdo exactly enough to keep Assad in power,but will struggle to keep up the fairly massive power projection they have shown so far. In factthey are also close to negotiating a deal to lease facilities in Derna in Libya. This would be for ships up to DD size unless they expand the base facilities there as well.
Russian special forces have been operating out of Marsah Matruh in Egypt in support of General Haftar's clean up operations in Cyrenaica, and are positioned to benefit greatly when/if he takes control of the entire Libya. Also, the Russians have been talking to Cyprus about a 50 year lease on one of their harbours, but I am not sure where they are in that process - I am thinking that could be harder to achieve since the Russian money flow has dried up a bit.

The main effect of the budget cuts in Russia, at least in the short term, will be that more brigades remain in 90's state with older equipment and probably delays in upgrades to the surface fleet (the subs are still prioritised and the Borey class subs are still coming off the assembly lines). The air force will have to wait for their 5th Gen fighters as the T.50 (PAK FA) programme has been delayed at least until 2020, and will probably deliver only a third of the jets that were planned. There are even some rumours that the Russians are looking again at the MiG 1.44 design that was abandoned when the Soviet Union fell, but would probably be far cheaper option.


---------------
You can be a Dictator or you can design ladies undergarments. You can't do both (Bertie Wooster)

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3533

Re: Russia confirms defence budget cuts
Posted on: 3/29/2017 7:55:45 AM
 Basic map of military forces in the region. -Very- provisional. Location and quantity of Russian forces is especially difficult to determine. Only Russian forces in the Western Military District have been depicted. Deployment of units along Ukrainian border, in the Crimea, or in the Donets is unknown (to me).

* Circle is a mechanized or motorized brigade. Some of these Russian units may be transforming into division-sized units. Small circles represent NATO battalion-size deployments.
* Tilted square is a tank brigade.
* Pipe symbol is an artillery brigade. Missile / rocket units not shown.
* Cross symbol is a Spetsnaz brigade.
* Air and naval units not shown.
* Not all land strength is apparent. For example, the Russians reportedly have some 800 tanks in the Kaliningrad Oblast.



Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

kaii
Edinburgh, UK
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1947

Re: Russia confirms defence budget cuts
Posted on: 3/29/2017 2:57:40 PM
Bill, for forces along the Ukrainian border you can add these forces. This structure will be completed by August 2017.

From the south

Rostov Oblast
150th Motor Rifle Division (33 and 17 MRB)
136th Independent Motor Rifle Battalion
200th Independent Motor Rifle Battalion
338 Independent Artillery Battalion
6th Independent Tank Brigade (elements of)

Voronez Oblast
10th Tank Division (1st TB & 9 MRB)

Belgorod Oblast
23rd Motor Rifle Brigade

Bryansk Oblast
28th Motor Rifle Division

Smolensk Oblast
144th Motor Rifle Division


We also know that the 18th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade has been operating both in Donbass and Crimea, but is normally garrisoned in Chechnya.

All units, perhaps with exception of 144th in Smolensk, belong to the new 1st Tank Army HQ. The new Divisions will have six self contained regiments along Soviet lines, with Brigade HQ's being phased out.
---------------
You can be a Dictator or you can design ladies undergarments. You can't do both (Bertie Wooster)

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3533

Re: Russia confirms defence budget cuts
Posted on: 3/30/2017 3:40:48 AM
Kai,

 Thanks, I updated the map.

Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

kaii
Edinburgh, UK
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1947

Re: Russia confirms defence budget cuts
Posted on: 3/30/2017 10:40:49 AM

Quote:
Kai,

 Thanks, I updated the map.

Cheers

BW
--BWilson


Great stuff Bill, looks good now.
---------------
You can be a Dictator or you can design ladies undergarments. You can't do both (Bertie Wooster)

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