How many weapons does the Kremlin actually have?
The Russians are expected to try to launch a new offensive in the Donetsk region in a week. In the meantime, there is an operational pause on this front, the Kremlin launched a global information campaign in order to force Kyiv into negotiations. However, if this frightened anyone, then first of all it’s the Russians themselves — they are now even more scared of the idea of general mobilization.
Some bluff before the next war phase
A rumor has been thrown into the Ukrainian information space that an ultimatum to Kyiv allegedly came from Moscow the other day: to resume negotiations by July 15, for the duration of the negotiations, Ukraine must stop the counteroffensive at the Kherson frontline, and Russia in return will stop the offensive in the Donbas, but if Kyiv refuses, the Russians say, they will regret it very much.
In general, there is nothing implausible in this rumor. It is well known that Kyiv and Moscow, despite the freezing of negotiations, continue to contact. Three weeks ago, the head of the Ukrainian delegation at the talks, David Arakhamia, told Axios in an interview that members of our delegation talk on the phone with their Russian counterparts “once or twice a week” in order to “keep in touch”. Therefore, it cannot be ruled out that during one of these communication sessions, the Kremlin delivered an ultimatum to Kyiv.
The timing of the ultimatum and its duration are not surprising either. On July 7, the Russian Ministry of Defense officially announced a pause in the fighting. And this, of course, is not a “gesture of good will” at all, but a forced necessity.
According to the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Russian forces are “rebuilding forces and creating the conditions for a larger offensive in the coming weeks or months.” The ISW assumes that this will be an attack on either Sloviansk or Kramatorsk.
The occupiers are sending echelons of weapons and ammunition to the area of the new offensive, and there is also information about the transfer of fresh units closer to the front. For example, the other day it was reported that the Russians were withdrawing personnel, military equipment and ammunition from military unit 34667 in the village of Alakurtti near Murmansk. Military unit 34667 is the 80th separate motorized rifle brigade, and all of it, it turns out, has been transferred to the village of Nikolskoye, Belgorod Region.
It was for this kind of preparation that an operational pause was needed. It is unlikely that it will end tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, but in a week — maybe. And while this pause lasts, Putin, of course, can use this time to scare the whole world with an even greater escalation of hostilities if Kyiv does not agree to resume negotiations.
Actually, this is exactly what Putin did. “We do not refuse peace negotiations, but those who refuse should know that the further, the more difficult it will be to negotiate,” he said on July 7. The same song was sung by his Foreign Minister Lavrov. According to him, the West “does not allow Ukraine to move to the peace process, but forces it to take up its weapons.” He announced this in Indonesia after the summit of the heads of the diplomatic departments of the G20 countries, where he was subjected to severe obstruction by the Western colleagues.
What does Putin have in store?
This is precisely the main question — what kind of escalation is Putin trying to scare us and the whole world with. It can be assumed that he focuses his threat primarily on Kyiv.
On July 4, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that in the Black Sea, the Russian invaders were keeping three carriers of high-precision weapons in readiness for missile attacks on targets in Ukraine. Their total volley is up to 20 Kalibr sea-based cruise missiles.
In addition, on July 7, Deputy Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Brigadier General Oleksiy Hromov, said that the Zyabrauka airfield near Homel in Belarus was already completely controlled by the Russians. “A Russian military base is being set up there. A missile division of the Iskander-M missile system and an S-400 division are located on the territory of the airfield,” the brigadier general said. The Iskander-M ballistic missile has a range of 500 km, which far exceeds the distance to Kyiv, not to mention Chernihiv.
It is important to note here that Putin promised to hand over the Iskander-M missile systems to Belarus on June 25 at a meeting with Lukashenka. Putin stressed that the Iskander-M systems could use both ballistic and cruise missiles, “both conventional and nuclear.” But soon, Putin's Spokesman Peskov clarified that Putin, at a meeting with Lukashenka, did not talk about the transfer of missiles with nuclear weapons to Belarus, it was about complexes that are technically capable of carrying different types of weapons.
According to Forbes.ua, at the beginning of the big war with Ukraine, Russia had about 7,000 missiles of medium and shorter range (up to 5,500 km). Of these, almost half are low-precision Kh-22, Kh-55, Tochka-U missiles. In the first stage of a full-scale invasion, Russia mainly used Kalibr missiles (sea-based) and Iskander missile systems. Since Russia did not count on a long war, it actively used these missiles, despite the fact that their stock was not too large (about 600 Kalibrs, about 1,000 Iskanders). Russia has already used about 3,000 missiles of various types in the war against Ukraine. Most likely, the Russian Federation has few Kalibr and Iskander missiles left. If the Russians are really running out of high-precision long-range missiles, then with a range of more than 500 km, only the old Kh-55 and Kh-22 remain, the stock of which may be more than 2,000, Forbes.ua states.
Here it is necessary to clarify that Putin used up a certain number of missiles in Syria. In addition, he cannot use his entire supply of missiles in the war against us — he needs to leave some amount on other sections of the Russian border. Also, a large percentage of the stock that is now being reopened is unsuitable for use — too old or damaged during storage.
As for the production of new high-precision missiles, this is extremely problematic. For example, let's take the Kalibr missiles, with which the enemy fires at our cities from the Black Sea. “These missiles, given the scale of use, are running out. Their new production is impossible (Kalibr is 80% Japanese and American, only the hull and warhead are Russian-made), and modern Russian launchers are not adapted for other missiles. And then what the Russian navy will do without missile weapons is a rhetorical question,” says Oleksandr Kovalenko, a military observer for the Information Resistance group.
The recently appeared reports about the reactivation of concrete-piercing, fragmentation and high-explosive fragmentation bombs in the military unit 74006 (89th arsenal of the logistics service) in Skryabino, Penza region should be taken as a move of despair. Perhaps Putin does not give up hope of bombing Kyiv. In any case, this whole threat of air escalation, missile and aviation, should be immediately used in dialogue with the Pentagon and the White House in order to obtain the provision of the Patriot anti-aircraft missile system to us. If Putin gives us ultimatums, we have the right to demand additional arguments from Washington to strengthen our positions.
Apparently, now Putin's main hope is victory not on the battlefield, but in a psychological way. And the main method of psychological pressure will be missile strikes on the civilian population. For this, accuracy is not needed — Putin does not care where the missiles hit, as long as there are many victims. And for this, he can simultaneously launch dozens of missiles in one direction or at one city, in the hope that the air defense system will not be able to cope with them.
Putin's threats have already caused quite a stir — in Russia itself and in Belarus. Panic expectations of general mobilization are growing there, especially in the regions bordering Ukraine. And this panic was fueled by Putin's words that Russia “hasn't really started anything yet.” In fact, there is still a lot of cannon fodder in Russia. However, his desire to fight falls in inverse proportion to the buildup of our combat power, which perfectly manifests itself in bright explosions of dozens of military facilities in the occupied territories.
So, let the Russians fear, every day, more and more. For us, it's too late to be afraid. There is only one option left for us — victory.
Yuri Vishnevsky, Delovaya Stolitsa