There was a time when I was willing to give media reports, especially those in newspapers, the benefit of the doubt. No longer. I now start with the assumption that the reporters are being fed a meme generated by the intelligence community. A case in point, a piece in the Washington Examiner by Joel Gehrke, The West is Losing Weapons Production Race to Russia, NATO Ally Says.
The article is sourced to the secretary of Estonia’s Defense Minister, who makes the following claim:
Russia ’s defense industry has “almost doubled” its prewar ammunition production rates, according to a senior NATO member defense official who estimated that Ukrainian forces could face as many as 10,000 incoming rounds per day.
“Russia can still manufacture a lot of dumb bombs,” the Estonian defense minister’s permanent secretary, Kusti Salm, told reporters in Washington this week. “And dumb bombs are also 152 [mm] artillery that does the most damage in the battlefield. … Shooting 10,000 artillery [rounds] a day makes a lot of damage.”
Mr. Salm is being disingenuous at best. Yes, Russia is manufacturing “dumb bombs,” but Salm declines to admit that Russia also is producing a prodigious amount of “smart” bombs and missiles. Why did he fail to mention that salient point? Is he truly ignorant of Russia’s activities on that front or is he reluctant to expose the clay feet of the Western narrative?
That assessment complicates the picture of Western efficiency and Russian military incompetence that appeared over the last year. Russia’s logistical preparations for the war have attracted scorn in Western public discourse, . . . .
Yet Salm, a senior defense official for one of the only NATO allies that share a border with Russia, acknowledged that “mobilization has had an effect and the line has been stabilized,” whatever the shortcomings of the mobilization process. And he expressed displeasure with those who underestimate Moscow.
At this point Mr. Gehrke veers back to the meme that Russia’s mobilization is no big deal because Moscow scooped up a bunch of inexperienced office workers and threw them into the front-lines as cannon fodder. His source? The Moscow Times, which is based in Amsterdam and is the kind of outlet that the CIA or British Intelligence would use to spread their false meme.
Gehrke continues with Salm:
“It’s not actually very much if you have 30 million people in the mobilization reserve; you can afford it,” Salm said, referring to Russia’s losses. “And losing 1,400 tanks is a lot of tanks … but it’s bearable if you have done 10,000 in the stocks. Even if you can make one working [tank] out of three, still you have many times more tanks than European allies.”. . .
“All mobilized soldiers have the new digital uniforms — all of them,” the Estonian defense official observed. “It means that their military was prepared for these numbers. Mobilized soldiers haven’t showed up in Second World War uniforms. It means that they were prepared. They knew. They know what they’re doing.”
There is a grudging acknowledgement — after months of insisting that Russian troops are sporting threadbare uniforms we now learn that those “conscripts” are wearing genuine Ninja gear. A digital uniform means that the soldiers are kitted in camouflage that makes them harder to detect. Hmmm.
Salm offers this depressing tidbit:
“The allies are getting to the realization that it’s going to be a longer war. It’s going to be an extremely costly war,” Salm said. “And, in order to manage this strategy, you need to have an end goal. … The reason why we are not there, I guess, is the cost in itself, the fact that a lot of the ammunition stocks have been depleted in Europe. It’s a problem in itself that you need to deal with.”
How does Europe deal with that “problem?” Is it going to magically create ammunition factories and acquire the necessary metals to produce artillery shells in the face of skyrocketing energy costs? How exactly does Europe jump over this barrier? Short answer, it does not.
Salm closes with this “sunny” assessment:
“The price tag, we know, is going to be a large one,” he said, “probably much larger than the bills that the Congress have put forward and definitely much higher than European allies have put forward.”
So the meme is shifting from “Russia is losing and has crappy equipment” to “Russia’s ability to produce crappy equipment is strong and the West is running out of supplies and needs more money.” A lot more!! You do not have to be a skilled military or intelligence analyst to recognize the delusional thinking on the part of Salm. No country in Europe is in an economic position to ramp up spending and military production. Even if they could the fruits of increased production are at least one to two years away.
Ukraine’s fate hinges on whether or not the United States will continue to pour money and materiel into Kiev’s rat hole. The United States, economically, resembles a tottering Jinga tower — Washington shifts money from domestic priorities and stacks more on top of Ukraine. As in the game Jinga, the longer this goes on the more unstable the tower.