How does the new Russian industrial strategy redefine the strategic equation of the conflict in Ukraine?

Since the beginning of the military aggression against Ukraine, the Russian armies have suffered very heavy losses, particularly in terms of armour. It is thus more than 1600 Russian heavy tanks, but also almost 3500 heavy armored vehicles and 300 mobile artillery systems which were destroyed, damaged or captured by the Ukrainians in a documented way, i.e. between 20 and 60% of its pre-war stocks, depending on the category of equipment. Ukrainian losses, meanwhile, are also significant, but to a lesser extent, with 450 tanks, less than 900 heavy armored vehicles and around a hundred documented mobile artillery systems, but these losses still represent 20 to 40% of its initial stocks. In addition, the Ukrainian armies received, from the first weeks of engagement, additional equipment, in particular heavy armored vehicles supplied by the countries of Eastern Europe, including Polish and Czech T-72 and PT-91 tanks. , as well as BMP1/2 infantry fighting vehicles and S-300 anti-aircraft systems.

At the same time, the Russian defense industry was dealing with 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-73B3M, T80BVM and T90M 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 evenly matched in terms of heavy armour. And the upcoming arrival of American infantry fighting vehicles Bradley, German Marder 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.

Almost at a standstill until the summer, the Russian Uralvagonzavod factory in Nizhny Tagil now produces 40 to 50 heavy armored vehicles per month

Indeed, once the initial shock of Western sanctions had 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 plant has resumed, since the beginning of autumn, the production of heavy tanks, in this case the transformation of T-72A into T-72B3M, T-80BV into T-80BVM, T- 90A in T90M 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, i.e. 4 times more than that of before the war. To achieve this, the Russian BITD has turned largely to Chinese and Hong Kong electronic components to replace the European, Japanese and American semiconductors used until then, and some capabilities have been removed or degraded, particularly in terms of night vision and sighting, due to less efficient components, or the absence of certain non-substitutable components.

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