Russia’s War Machine Reaching Twilight

Featured, Peter Zeihan, Ukraine

By Peter Zeihan

Recent events in the Ukrainian War have shed light on the state of Russia’s ability to resupply its war effort. Even elite Russian troops are being forced to rely on older, reserve equipment—including tanks built well over half a century ago. Moscow’s deep inventory of Cold War-era materiel has kept Russian troops in the fight, but not necessarily fighting: a recent attack by Ukrainian forces in Zaporizhzhia eliminated most of a Russian airborne division fighting in tanks likely older than their fathers.

While Moscow has plenty of old equipment to churn through in its attempt to drag Kyiv back into its orbit, the same cannot be said for its ability to place more bodies on front lines. Russia’s post-soviet demography was already a mess before the war. Combined with hundreds of thousands of casualties due to the war, and estimates of up to a million fighting age men who have slipped out of the country, and Russia is facing a grim inversion of its WWII challenges: while it may have plenty of (aging, derelict) equipment with which to wage war on its neighbors, young men are becoming much harder to find and even harder to replace…

The result? Russia and its war machine have shifted strongly from expansion to maintenance—and all this narrowly balanced against competing Russian economic and political interests. While this does not mean that Russia’s war in limited to Ukraine, it does mean that the timeline for Russian action ends firmly well within the next decade. Does a shortened window of Russian capability mean a decreased likelihood of Russian aggression? Far from it, sadly. The bear’s back is against the wall, and they very much view the Ukraine War (and any follow-ons) as a fundamental war of survival.

Peter Zeihan is a world expert in geopolitics: the study of how place impacts financial, economic, cultural, political, and military developments.

He presents customized executive briefings to a wide array of audiences including financial professionals, Fortune 500 firms, energy investors, and a mix of industrial, power, agricultural, and consulting associations and corporations.

Mr. Zeihan has been featured in, and cited by, numerous newspapers and broadcasts including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, AP, Bloomberg, CNN, ABC, The New York Times, Fox News, and MarketWatch.

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