Russia After Six Months of War in Ukraine

Russia After Six Months of War in Ukraine. By Yevgenia Albats in the independent Moscow Times.

The Russian ruling class is not supportive of the war:

I asked a variety of people what percentage of the top Russian ruling class supported the war. The answers ranged from a low of 10% to a high of 30%.

Hundreds — if not thousands — of people at the top have lost millions and billions of dollars, expensive real estate in delightful European countries and the United States because of sanctions and/or the collapse of the stock market. All they get for their loss is endless lamentations from wives and mistresses that “living in this Russia” was not part of the deal.

Children studying at Western universities and boarding schools in Britain, Switzerland, and the United States were forced to return to Russia when their educational institutions refused to accept their parents’ toxic money. …

I’m not sure that Putin’s ruling class, which is made up of dollar millionaires and billionaires and is used to making money in Russia and spending it all over the world, will agree to live and die in a cage.

Casualties far higher than in Afghanistan, where the Russians eventually retreated after 9 years:

According to American intelligence, the irrecoverable losses of the Russian Armed Forces in the six months of the war amounted to 70-80,000:

  • 15-20,000 dead (Afghanistan: about 15,000 Soviet soldiers and officers were killed)
  • 60,000 wounded and captured (Afghanistan: about 35,000). …

The Russian army has lost 3-4,000 tanks and armored personnel carriers. Almost all the country’s high-precision weapons have been used, and the production of new missiles is held up because they can’t get microchips and semiconductors, which are under sanctions. Anti-ship missiles and Soviet Grads, which have a range of several hundred meters, are being used for strikes.

The shortage of hardware has forced the Russian army to scavenge for weapons, transfer them by quasi-trade ships from the military base in Syria, buy drones from Iran, and even consider North Korea’s offer to buy artillery from them. …

A first for Russia — out of infantry:

Due to their heavy losses, Russia is carrying out “voluntary mobilization.” According to various estimates, 30-35,000 volunteers have been sent to training camps with subsequent deployment in the active army. Soldiers are also being recruited from high-security prisons and deployed in private security companies. Battalions that carried out peacekeeping duties in Nagorno-Karabakh and troops from de facto annexed South Ossetia are also being sent to the front. …

Russian finances, taxes, GDP all down:

In July, Finance Ministry statistics showed a federal budget deficit of 892 billion rubles, a drop of 22.5% in oil and gas revenues despite high energy prices, and a nearly 30% drop in revenue from tax collection.

The expected loss of GDP by the end of the year is 8%

Strong censorship:

Since the beginning of the war the General Prosecutor’s Office and the courts have blocked about 7,000 websites on the basis of laws about military censorship; all independent mass media, central and regional, agencies, foundations are blocked without exception; entire editorial boards have emigrated from the country.

Hundreds of politicians, journalists, and public figures have been given the vile label of “foreign agent” — in my case, for the money earned from a YouTube channel.

At the same time, the number of VPN downloads has risen sharply  — by 25 times! — since the beginning of the war. In July, 25 million Russians were using VPNs. In other words, Russians don’t only have access to propaganda television channels; they can find alternative information on the Internet.

No end of the war is in sight. A Russian loss in the war — once unthinkable — is now a possibility. What a disaster for Putin, who started it. Lots of damage to Ukraine, European gas consumers, Middle-eastern food consumers, the reputation of the Russian armed forces, and so on.