Monday, July 26, 2021

Russia Can’t Catch Up to US Militarily but is Trying to Frighten It, Felgengauer Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 19 – Russia’s military-industrial complex is falling ever further behind that of the US and other Western countries, Pavel Felgengauer says, a trend that means Russia can’t catch up to the US militarily but one that gives Russia the chance to try to frighten the US and even intimidate that risk averse country.

            The leading independent Russian defense analyst tells Aleksandr Zhelenin of the Rosbalt news agency that Moscow’s rollout of new weapons increasingly appears to be a kind of cargo cult and advertising for the sale of Russian weapons to third world countries rather than a real plan for the development of an effective air force (ru/russia/2021/07/20/1912212.html).

            Even an inspection from a distance shows that what Moscow is advertising as a fifth-generation fighter has been on American fourth generation fighters for some time. Consequently, Felgengauer says, the new Russian planes are not the gamechangers that the Russian military and political establishments are advertising them as being.

            What is of even greater concern is that with the exception of the SU-34, post-Soviet Russia has not been able to produce planes on a serial basis. There have been too many bottlenecks, including both the loss of producers in former Soviet republics like Latvia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan and the loss of access to Western parts given the post-2014 sanctions.

            At the very least, there are real questions that Moscow will be capable of fighting three wars at the same time as the general staff promises. Indeed, lacking high-end weaponry means that Russia can’t hope to win out if the US or other Western country is fielding the forces against it.

            To be blunt, Felgengauer says, one must conclude that Moscow knows it can’t catch up with the West and therefore has decided to use various propagandistic tactics in order to frighten the West. And it has an unexpected ally in this effort: the US military leadership is delighted that Moscow is doing just that.

            On the one hand, it means that on the ground Russia is not a threat.  But on the other, Moscow’s bald claims help the Pentagon get resources from the Congress because the generals can argue that Russia is a threat when in fact it is ever less so.

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