EDF intelligence chief: Russia still has long-term offensive capabilities

Col. Margo Grosberg.
Col. Margo Grosberg. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Although Russia has lost a huge amount of equipment and personnel in Ukraine, the country's military has enough reserves to last for a very long time come, says commander of the Estonian Defense Forces' (EDF) intelligence center Colonel Margo Grosberg.

"As sad as it is, there is no sign of a quick end to this war," Colonel Grosberg said at a Ministry of Defense briefing on Friday. "Looking at the longer term and the numbers, despite Russia's terrible losses, its military capabilities have not gone away," he added.

Grosberg pointed out, that although Russia has lost around 1,400 tanks since February 24, which is "a staggering amount" in numerical terms, given the amount of reserves it has, in percentage terms, the losses are not so high.

"As of today, Russia has around 9,000 tanks in repair and storage bases. They are not the most modern or newest, but they are tanks nevertheless," the colonel stressed. "On the basis that about three (of those) tanks can be used to make one (serviceable) tank, simple math says, that Russia has the potential to bring in at least another 3,000 tanks, which is obviously a very, very large number and poses a threat not only to Ukraine but to all its other neighboring countries," he said.

The situation is similar when it comes to Russian armored vehicles, the colonel added. "It has also been highlighted, that the Russian armed forces has lost around 100,000 personnel - either killed, missing, or wounded to the extent that they are unlikely to return to the front," Grosberg continued.

However, given that the mobilization effort resulted in the addition of a further 300,000 troops, even though they are not as well trained as those who began the campaign on February 24, this still represents a significant amount of additional manpower.

"Again, simple math shows us, that even with 100,000 casualties, they have the capacity to send 200,000 [additional] troops to the Ukrainian front," Grosberg said.

In addition to personnel, Russia has also lost approximately 500 different artillery systems. While this too is a large number, it is still only 10 percent of the total amount of weapon systems Russia possessed at the beginning of the war.

"I am not talking here about those weapons systems that can still be taken from armament and storage bases. Again, they may not be the most modern, but there is still a very, very large number of them," Grosberg said.

The same can also be said of ammunition, which Russia has tried to buy from North Korea and Iran, as well as utilizing supplies from Belarus, he said.

"We estimate that Russia had about 17 million rounds of ammunition before the war started, 10 million of which have been used up," he said. "At the end of the summer, their ammunition usage was very high - there were days when between 20,000 and 60,000 [artillery] rounds were being fired, which is a huge amount."

Grosberg pointed out, that while prior to the war, Russia's artillery remanufacturing capacity was around 1.7 million units per year, along with the introduction of mobilization, factories which produce arms have increased their operations significantly, in order to increase arms production.

"No matter how much they are able to increase ammunition production levels, simple math tells us that they still have about 10 million (rounds) in stock. They could produce around 3.4 million more in a year, meaning they would have enough ammunition for at least another year, if not longer, of war," the colonel said.

Precision ammunition, which is currently being used to attack Ukrainian civilian infrastructure is also being depleted. However, along with the various missiles Russia has, these stocks will also be enough to last for at least the next nine months, Grosberg added.

Airfield attack was a blow to morale

Grosberg said, that the explosions at three Russian military airfields during the past week, all of which are relatively far from the Ukrainian border, and caused damage to several strategic bombers, would be a blow to morale.

The colonel said, that the cause of the explosions remained uncertain. "What was more important was the distance from the border," he said "Obviously, as well as the military damage from this attack, it was a very big blow to Russian morale - so deep (into Russian territory), on such important bases, these kinds of incidents clearly have an impact on confidence and morale," the colonel stressed.

There were no major changes on the frontline this week. In the southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts, Russia is working towards fortifying its positions and building defensive installations. The weather there is currently not conducive to launching an offensive, as temperatures remain above zero, with high amounts of precipitation and muddy ground.

Russian attacks are continuing, mainly in the direction of Bahmut, where it has managed to capture the settlement of Kurdumivka. This has opened up the possibility of using the southern route to Bahmut, which has already seen months of fighting as both sides aim to gain control, Grosberg added.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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