This stuff just writes itself. Newsweek and the New York Times published pieces that present diametrically opposed narratives. Newsweek pushes the meme that Russia has run out of missiles (finally) — Russia Switching War Strategy as Missiles Run Out. I guess they don’t read the New York Times, which published the reporting of Julian E. Barnes, Eric Schmitt and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Russia Overcomes Sanctions to Expand Missile Production, Officials Say.
The New York Times piece, published on 13 September, reported:
Russia has managed to overcome sanctions and export controls imposed by the West to expand its missile production beyond prewar levels, according to U.S., European and Ukrainian officials, leaving Ukraine especially vulnerable to intensified attacks in the coming months. . . .
In less than a year since the war began, Russia rebuilt trade in critical components by routing them through countries like Armenia and Turkey. U.S. and European regulators have been trying to work together to curb the export of chips to Russia, but have struggled to stop the flow to pass through countries with ties to Moscow. . . .
Today, Russian officials have remade their economy to focus on defense production. With revenue from high energy prices, Russia’s security services and ministry of defense have been able to smuggle in the microelectronics and other Western materials required for cruise missiles and other precision guided weaponry. As a result, military production has not only recovered but surged.
Before the war, one senior Western defense official said, Russia could make 100 tanks a year; now they are producing 200.
While Barnes, Schmitt and Gibbons-Neff correctly note that Russia is unfazed by the sanctions and its defense industry is churning out all the ammunition, tanks and missiles the Russian military needs, they are gullible in accepting the claim by U.S. officials that Russia is working this magic because it is evading sanctions. The New York Times reporters still don’t get it — Russia, unlike the United States, is an industrial power and has the technical skills and material resources needed to produce the weapons Russia needs.
Which brings me to the latest article from Newsweek (published on 15 November). The lede in the Newsweek piece is partially false and misleading. Alia Slisco writes:
Russia is reportedly focusing on drone training while dealing with short supplies of missiles and military equipment used in the ongoing war with Ukraine.
While there have been indications that Russia has drastically reduced its use of missiles in Ukraine in recent months, the country may be building a large stockpile of the weapons to be used in an impending winter attack. In the meantime, Moscow may be turning to other weapons to continue its current assault.
Slisco is correct that Russia is using more First Person View drones to attack Ukrainian military positions. But that does not prove that Russia is running out of missiles. In fact, Slisco concedes that Russia “may be building a large stockpile” of missiles to be used when Moscow decides to launch a massive counter offensive.
If you read the article, it is not about missiles. It is about Russia’s dramatic increased use of drones to attack Ukrainian troops with devastating results.
Russia will launch missiles when it serves its tactical and strategic goals. Right now, Russia is killing Ukrainians with much cheaper technology and, as time goes on, is developing more sophisticated and lethal drones. Just another reminder that Ukraine is in trouble.