Since the alternative media I’m attuned to is taking much if it time discussing Scott’s new insights, I had a few thoughts of mine own in this regard. If the individual point, as they are relayed by him, are mostly accepted by me, as valid ones, there are some comments I would like to add, and also take another look at the bigger picture.
Regarding the concept of replenishing military hardware that Ukrainians are loosing. Let’s thing about it. Until now Ukraine have received about 100 M777 light-weight howitzers. These howitzers are intended to be used by light or air-mobile forces. For example, India has purchased them to provide artillery support to the forces deployed at high-altitude mountain areas. These howitzers can be transferred with relative ease by the military cargo planes, and then by the heavy helicopters (on external suspension) to those areas. Or they could be deployed by the light air-assault brigades. But they aren’t intended for the Ukraine realities. They aren’t self-propelled, they aren’t providing anti-fragmentation armor for their crews, they aren’t automated or integrated into Army’s netcentric combat and control systems. So in fact, they are analogues to the WWII towed (field) howitzers, and in the lack of sophisticated ammunition or fire control computers, they are about equal to the Soviet era D-30 152-mm howitzers of the 1955 vintage. Because without guided ammunition, its slightly longer range would be of no military use. And the vintage Soviet 2A36 “Giantsint-B” howitzer have superior range and it is native to the Ukraine’s armed forces.
According to Wikipedia, Ukraine’s artillery troops had 287 2A36 “Giantsint-B” 152-mm towed howitzers, 224 152-mm D-20 towed howitzers, 185 of relatively modern 2A65 “Msta-B” towed howitzers. 450+ of the 122-mm D-30 howitzers. In addition, they have 63+ of the 152-mm”Msta-S” self-propelled howitzers (SPH), 99 of the 203-mm self-propelled guns (SPG), 24 of the 152-mm “Giantsint-S” SPG, 235 152-mm 2S3 “Akatsiya” SPH, 600+ 122-mm “Gvozdika” SPH. Some of those are far superior to the M777, being self-propelled, armored, well-known, etc. Some are less capable, like the towed 122-mm D-30. But even if we assume average capabilities of the Ukraine’s artillery to be equal to the towed, unarmored M777 without smart ammunition and fire computers (and they aren’t), we’ll see that ~100 of M777 is about 5% of the combat equivalence to the Ukraine’s total of 2,167 towed and self-propelled, 122/152/203-mm artillery pieces. I’m obviously ignoring the MLRS, mortars, anti-tank guns, tactical ballistic missiles, which were present in great numbers before the start of the war. So the real impact is even smaller.
Does 5% in heavy artillery makes any difference to the situation on the ground? Well, we can assume it will make about 5% of the difference (at the very best). But what is also assuming all of the supplied ~100 M777 howitzers will reach their destination. Scott is assuming most of these will. I don’t know why. Because so far we have only seen a few pieces here and there. Who is to say most of them won’t be destroyed on their way to the front? We know Russians are bombing weapon and ammo storage depots in the Western Ukraine almost daily. I assume most of the MANPADS, ATGM and RPG that were supplied at the beginning of the war are already deployed or have been destroyed earlier. So there is a reason to assume these are the newer supplied weapons, which are probably mainly include artillery and related ammo. If so, significant number of M777 can be already destroyed. Or not. The point is we don’t know.
Replacement military hardware
Of course, M777 is only one example. There are also some (very few, it seems) self-propelled howitzers intended to be provided to Ukraine, as well as few hundred main battle tanks of the T-72 variety, some infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers, etc.
As with M777, these will have very little effect, as they are not sufficient to replace the hardware Ukraine is loosing. As I said in my previous post, the West can strip itself naked of its military hardware Ukraine can realistically absorb, and it still will make no real difference to Russia. Because West doesn’t have any great stocks of Warsaw Block weaponry, and it has no means to produce it.
The modern Western weaponry, that can be supplied, is unimaginably expensive, and will require a long time to prepare soldiers, able to operate it efficiently. For example, Poland have recently ordered about 250 US made “Abrams” main battle tanks of the newer version, for the amount of $6 billion (including support vehicles, equipment and ammo). I would guestimate that this is roughly the number of tanks Ukraine looses in a month in Donbass at this stage. Maybe even more. So, based on the Polish order, it will be about $6B of land-leased MBTs only (including supporting vehicles and ammo). That’s only MBTs to replace the destroyed ones. It doesn’t include the price of training and providing for the crews, their salaries (which Ukraine cannot pay), the logistics of delivering them to Ukraine, the usual kickbacks to politicians, NGOs and so on. And it will take let’s say 2 years for this order to be supplied. Of course in the mean time, no other customer, including the US Army itself, would be able to get new tanks. Well, that doesn’t seems to me like a sustainable option at all.
The same will be true for other weapons and equipment as well. For example, based on the latest Canadian order of M777 howitzers, the cost of 100 M777s with associated equipment and services, would be about $310M. And these howitzers would be destroyed in about a month of them doing the actual fighting. And so on.
So my point is, this kind of perpetual replenishing the lost hardware, Scott Ritter is talking about, is absolutely unsustainable. Cost, production time, training… this will work only as long as the main bulk of Ukraine’s hardware is in place. If it is significantly depleted or out of order, the land-lease scheme will become unworkable.
The big picture
Winning the war while ruining your economy is not the outcome Putin wants to see, I assume. As it is, the negatives of this war is almost unfelt in Russia, excluding some border regions, and the big number of refugees. Unlike Ukraine and NATO, Russia can continue doing this indefinitely. The Russian economy is standing strong, while the Western ones are crushing. And shortly after, their governments will follow. Preserve the soldiers, preserve the economy, so when in the real emergency, there will be reserves to escalate. The West has escalated almost to its limits, without actually starting a direct war with Russia. And it is crumbling, slowly but surely. The winner will be the one that would exit this proxy war with stronger positions in economy, industry, diplomacy, public opinion. Military achievements are less relevant. West wouldn’t be deterred to invite Finland and Sweden to NATO, if Russia have shown better results in Ukraine. Because the induction of Scandinavian states is the result of two factors: embarrassment and doubling down. The more military victories Russia will have, the more embarrassed and deterrent the neocons and globalists will become. This is a dangerous time for Russia to escalate, because the only thing that can change the current balance of power in Ukraine is the entrance of NATO into war. So the Russian objective number one should be not to provide the West the reasons to do so. And in time, given the current trends with the economy, industry, food supplies, refugees, the West will soon start to change its rhetoric and objectives, and Russia will may have its opportunities to push the NATO back, without risking the nuclear holocaust of the Western civilization.
Winning the war in Ukraine without mobilization or conscript soldiers, would demonstrate Russia’s military might much more effectively. And in truth, it will be much better for Russia itself. It is already feeling its limitations and inadequacies regarding its reconnaissance and targeting capabilities, and its drones (which are inferior to the Turkish ones, despite all the long-time investments and PR talks in Russian drone projects). There are not enough drones even for the current force. There are not enough modern weapons and equipment. Russia should address these issues first.