Russia is So Weak That Missile Boats for Ukraine Would Stop Them

The US has begun supplying some missiles to Ukraine. The US could supply a dozen PT boats with missiles and drive the cost to Russia of military escalation in Ukraine beyond any reasonable benefit. Russia’s military and economy today is obviously far weaker than it controlled Eastern Europe with the Soviet Union. The US previously provided a moderate level of arms for Afghanistan to increase the cost of the war for the Soviets. This was dramatized in the movie Charlie Wilson’s war.

Ukraine is expanding its economic and technology connections with China and China’s interests and involvement could also prevent military escalation.

Interestingly there was the simultaneous release of several thinktank analysis of the adequacy of Ukraine’s 250,000 volunteer army and the paper tiger nature of Russia’s military.

Russia has about 1 million active military personnel but Strategy Page claims that Russia has only 100,000 or so in actually effective units in special operations and airborne units. Russia has a lot of unmotivated and poorly trained one year draftees. The poorly trained aspect is the main issue that has not been commonly discussed until recently. Russia’s economic problems, oil and gas-dependent economy, badly aging and shrinking population and lack of money for military modernization are more well known.

The poor training problem combined with military equipment and cash issues means that Russia’s military is 2 to 5 times less than the statistics of a 1 million man army with 2 million in reserve would suggest.

Russia still has thousands of tanks and planes. There are claims that Russia’s tank quality is below NATO and below China. It is still enough to overwhelm Ukraine in an all-out war.

The Atlantic Council claims that in the five years of the Ukraine-Russia war that Ukraine has put together a cohesive 250,000 volunteer army.

Ukraine estimates that they would be forced to retreat and would lose 15,000 men in the first three weeks of an all-out attack from Russia. Russia has taken control of the Black Sea and seized Ukrainian ships.

The Atlantic Council indicates that providing six to twelve Mark V PT boats with 100 Hellfire missiles and 100 Harpoon anti-ship missiles would be enough to put Russia’s larger naval ships and planes at risk. It would make any attack costly in equipment and more costly in men.

Future of Ukraine Technology, Economy and Geopolitics

Ukraine contained key military factories of the Soviet military. They have precision weapons, missile guidance systems, radars, and electronics. Ukraine’s ground forces now have some tanks and armored vehicles and will be getting air defense and planes. Ukraine has modernized or developed short and medium-range anti-aircraft systems, a tactical ballistic missile, and a multiple-use cruise missile. Serial production of these weapons is ramping up now but they do not have the money for a lot.

Ukraine is selling its know-how and rocket manufacturing capabilities in deals with South Korea, Canada and China.

China Could Force Peace or Non-Escalation Between Russia and Ukraine is expanding economic and technological ties with Ukraine and also buying more oil and gas and technology from Russia. It is in China’s interest that Ukraine and Russia bid and negotiate separately to provide technology and trade. China would want to see an escalation in the conflict which would disrupt ports and rail.

Ukraine and China could collaborate and capture even more military sales from Russia. Russia has about 10% of world arm’s exports. Ukraine is helping China with critical missiles and jet engine technology. Ukraine and China are working to make more of the largest cargo plane in the world.

China is making Ukraine part of the Belt and Road plan. They have trade of about $8 billion now. Ukraine hosted the third Silk Road Forum in November 2018 for talks to increase bilateral trade with China over the next five years to $20 billion per year.

The Ukrainian Bank for Reconstruction and Development was purchased by China’s Bohai Commodity Exchange. They are making a joint e-commerce platform (Silk Link) aimed at increasing Ukraine’s exports to China.

China will invest $7 billion for major Ukrainian infrastructure projects. China has dredged the Yuzhny port and ports in Odessa, Chornomorsk, and Izmail will likely follow. China will work coastal highways and roads built to withstand the burden of heavy, grain-laden trucks, others are investing in new grain silos and port elevators to help with transportation logistics.

Ukraine has free trade with the EU and Canada. China can develop factories, warehouses and ports in Ukraine for more exports into the EU and Canada.

RAND has a 354-page analysis of actions that the US could take to stress Russia.

All Trends Are for Declining Russian Power

All trends are for declining Russian Power. Poland, Ukraine and Baltic States seem like they will do better economically and all are increasing their military capability. Russia has an aging and shrinking population with less rural population and a net level of people leaving the country. “>This will cause demographic challenges for its military ambitions.

The US is and will dominate oil and gas. Oil and gas prices will be kept at lower levels.

SOURCES : Rand, Atlantic Council,, Lima Charlie News, Strategy Page
Written By Brian Wang.

57 thoughts on “Russia is So Weak That Missile Boats for Ukraine Would Stop Them”

  1. I don’t know what nation you’re in, but GOD do I hope you’re under surveillance.

  2. This type of comment always makes me laugh. Just looking at military capabilities, Australia does not have the Sarmat heavy ICBM, which has fractional orbital capacity, and the ability to launch multiple Avangard hypersonic (Mach 27) warheads, the Poseidon nuclear-powered underwater drone with speeds greater than any current torpedo and unlimited range, state-of-the-art warplanes (Su35, Su57, Mig31). There is also the interceptor launch Khinzal missile, etc., etc.

    On the commercial side the rocket engines that carry American astronauts to the space station are Russian. Russia is building nuclear reactors at an accelerated pace, and has the largest foreign order book of any country in the World ($130 Billion). It is building gas pipelines to China, Turkey, Germany, LNG facilities in the Arctic that cost tens of billions. This is a short list.

    Well, I hope you get the picture. This is not Australia.

  3. Proxy war for who’s benefit? Its funny anyone would escalate conflict and talk about profitability. Our world is approaching a realization, war will be a thing of the past once the flashes happen.

  4. If there was a cheaper way to contain Russia than supporting and arming Ukraine I don’t know what that is.  Ukraine can produce 10 times more arms for a buck than any modern arms producing country.  It just needs money and maybe some technology transfer.

  5. Very interesting analysis. Russia seems to be sailing into rougher seas with a clunker fleet. A simple choice, create a better life for the people or maintain the illusion of a world class military force. If not for massive corruption the leadership might have made some better decisions, but the game is rigged for the silovaki and the people must bear the consequences.

  6. a) If you use the very vague standards of ‘winning’ an armed conflict in modern times, one might compare performance of our Europe, UK, USA in Middle-East / Afghanistan with Russia’s exploits. Yes, they too got a nose bleed in Afghanistan, but the Russians did regain control over Chechnia, helped Assad remain in power, while securing a naval base in the Mediterranean, and the Crimea…is now part of Russia. The USA usually have a lower standard of ‘winning’, where winning basically means bombing infrastructure in a country and leaving a mess (Korea / Vietnam / Lybia / Syria / Irak) turning a profit for the national weapons industry. US pentagon think tanks call ‘winning’ being successful in reaching your political goals.
    b) Your 2017 economic indicator is correct. But what does it mean in the light of other indicators, such as lowering interest rates and a stabilizing ruble in an environment of trade sanctions? What is often called the Dutch-Disease is now turning in favor of Russia. The Ruble and Russian products are cheap thanks to inflation. Exports of goods, services and resources are up. Oil and gas prices are up. Foreign currency is going in.
    c) Ukraine does exactly what it needs to do. They fight and protect their borders. They should also install a less corrupt political class.

  7. My understanding is that the gas turbines are considerably lighter for the same power output. Thousands of tonnes lighter for a big ship.

  8. I’m confused by the story that seems to vacillate randomly between

    • The US economy is wrecked by excess defence spending
    • The US economy is saved by the excess defence spending during a war

    I never know which one I’m supposed to believe at any time.

  9. I was not under the impression that our economy was so bad that we are required “to start a war anywhere to save its economy”. Would you mind pointing to these economic indicators I seem to have missed?

  10. “Russia . . . and has no intention nor need for a full out war.”

    That’s good, because it appears they could not possibly win one. Even though they could potentially “push the button,” that would still only be another way to lose.

    “The Russian economy has been re-surging for over a decade”

    Resurge means to come back from a low point to rise again.

    But you said “re-surging.” Did you make up that word to mean something like the opposite of surging? In which case you are quite correct.

  11. Is the gunboat surmise correct? Dunno, but Russia is like a house built with rotten wood and full of termites.

    Consider, Russia has about 66 times as much real estate as Italy, yet it has a smaller GDP, and only a bit more than twice the population (and the demographics are grim!). Forget PPP, that only really applies to affluence (even so, outside of South America, Africa, and parts of Asia, Russia is well behind everyone there as well) . Stands to reason. With corruption at such incredible levels (Fearless Leader alone pocketing 200+ billion), they can’t possibly get as much mileage out of their GDP as others can.
    When a country’s government itself is organized crime, this scaling creates a serious problem as, in this day and age (unlike in the ancient world), it’s really difficult to take enough from other countries to keep going.
    On the other hand, with a strong internal monopoly on the use of violence, and no external enemies willing to invade, a regime can survive an awful lot of economic hardship before it falls. Even assuming there was anything that could replace it. It could be a long miserable descent.
    So the rotting house is full of horrible weak spots, but not necessarily everywhere, not yet. Even so, who wants to test the structural integrity of the rotting house by jumping around inside?
    Safer from outside to let this house fall down on its own. At some point, even moose and squirrel could probably push it down if they wanted to, but why would they?

  12. A whole series of NATO exercises are being held as part of a plan to“ contain ”Russia,” the expert stated.
    The Spring Storm exercise this year will be held in northeastern Estonia.Nearly 10,000 troops will take part in them, including the military contingents of Great Britain and Belgium from the NATO international battalion stationed in Estonia and the soldiers of the Estonian Defense Forces, ” the press service of the Estonian Armed Forces said.

  13. Neptune is Ukranian made hypersonic missile with enough range to cover entire sea of Azov.  Mach 3.5 baby.  As far as Harpoon well they fly very low and difficult to detect (lower than supersonic missiles) and have strategies developed by the US Navy to be able to evade interception and strike Russian ships.

  14. It’s all about China. NATO needs a new mission, Russia is not the end game, it’s China. NATO, i.e., the U.S.’s European flank, has been given a new mission, that is, to prioritize the Chinese threat, which includes any linkages Russia has with China.

  15. There’s a book (Combined Arms Warfare in the Twentieth Century) which covers Germany’s military power in pre-WWI. It was indeed a military superpower, the only-one so advanced and so capable back then. They could humiliate any other country in the battlefield and they did (in WWI).

    Today’s Russia is on the opposite side of the coin.

    However, I do agree that the disease of impotence within the EU might render NATO impotent too. All it takes for the aggressor is to not directly declare a war. The shoot-down of MH17 over Ukraine in 2014 is a good example.
    Now, imagine a scenario where a Russian plane carrying Russian passengers was shot-down somewhere over ….. Estonian border.

  16. Russia faces an additional problem in that if Ukraine has 250,000 troops they have 250,000 troops that can be used on their eastern border. Russia on the other hand has a million troops spread across the largest single land mass in the World. Russia has troops in the arctic, they have troops in the far east and on the border with China, they have troops in Chechnya, they have troops in Syria, and troops facing NATO in Kalingrad, Poland and the Baltics, they have troops in Venezuela and Syria, and troops near the stans in Central Asia. During the Afghanistan War the USSR never deployed much more than 100,000 troops despite having nearly 4.5 million active duty on paper. The reason was they needed the other troops for all the other commitments outlined above plus, occupying eastern Europe.

    The simple fact is 250,000 well armed Ukrainian troops could easily achieve local superiority over Russian forces given how thin the Russian military is spread. This is the same problem the US military faces on Russia’s border in that despite having a much larger and more powerful air force and navy and huge technological advantages the global US military is spread thin and would give up a local forces advantage to Russia in the Baltics or several other potential conflict areas. Likewise Russia is equally spread thin and would face serious problems against any decently armed and well motivated Ukrainian army, e.g. they would be severely outnumbered where it counted.

  17. I don’t think it would make a difference both harpoon and neptun are subsonic short range missiles and since the earth is not flat combat vessels can’t see any target further than a certain range without helicopter assistance and missile boats can’t carry them also both of those missiles fly pretty slow and they can’t hide behind landforms to evade radar lock while flying above the open sea it will be no issue to intercept such targets but russian vessels don’t even need to sail within the ranges of those missiles anyway, they can strike ukraine from thousands of kilometers away with cruise missiles as i said even from caspian sea where no hostile warship can operate

  18. I’m surprised the Russians don’t put reactors in more surface ships, if they can’t build gas turbines. They do it for their subs and icebreakers.

  19. Brian just published conclusions that several think tanks came to.  Not his fault.  You should wake up to reality so you are not shocked by it.

  20. Nuclear weapons Russia has are orders of magnitude less likely to get used than the US aircraft carriers (suicide) and yet Russia seems to think other countries should take them into consideration and treat Russia as a superpower because of them.  The carriers are a lot more likely to get used even against Russia and therefore much more real factor in power projection.  Russia’s nucs are really a nonfactor.

  21. Ave has mentioned the elephant in the room, so I’ll mention the gorilla.

    In the late 1930s, Germany was a medium sized nation. It had a medium economy, a medium-large population, and wasn’t really dominant in any area. BUT it was heavily militarised and prepared to use said military in a shockingly* aggressive way against other nations.
    It turns out that you can achieve a hell of a lot just by being prepared and making aggressive moves that others will take years to be able to respond to.

    *I don’t mean “shockingly” in the sense of “very bad”. Though it was that too. I mean in the sense that people were literally stunned into not being able to react because they couldn’t believe that it was all happening so fast and things were being done that they had never thought about.

  22. What message is there to get? USA won’t do airstrikes against Russia. Russia knows this. The USA knows Russia knows this. Everyone knows this.

    It’s like being in a business meeting and one person casually mentions that he does boxing. No-one at the table ever dreams that the business meeting will turn to fisticuffs and so it really doesn’t affect the meeting.

  23. I think that you could rewrite that same story in such a way that Sri Lanka were the deadbeat debtors and China was forced to take over a bankrupted port of incompetence and corruption to try to drag it into semi-functional state and get at least some of their money back.

    Not saying I’d want the Chinese to take over my business, but this whole thing about “predatory lending” is assuming that we regard entire nation states as not yet competent to be allowed to operate without adult supervision.

    And yes, if billions of dollars worth of Country A’s infrastructure is located inside Country B, thousands of km away from country A… then who has really got the power in that situation should things get nasty?

  24. “A few more years and Ukraine will have more effective ground forces than Russia.”

    I highly doubt that. A more realistic line would be “A few more years and Ukraine will be able to effectively weight Russia down in a conflict that they can’t afford.”

  25. Sure – but Sri Lanka is separated from India by a wide channel of water. To ship into India they’d have to load stuff back onto a boat!

    I suppose they could turn it into a military base if they want to threaten India – but any such base would be more threatened by India than vice versa, I’d think, due to relative strength of their supply chains.

  26. Russian Federation possesses 7850 nuclear warheads of which 1600 are strategically operational. In 1997 it has declared an arsenal of 40.000 tons of chemical weapons.
    It doesn’t really matter if you call it a superpower or not. You cannot mess with it and that’s a scary fact.

  27. Granted China played hardball – but looks like they ended up taking over a white elephant port of little real value? One ships to or from ports that want to buy stuff or have stuff to sell – which apparently isn’t very much the case for Hamabantota?

  28. “Russia to retire two of its Kirov class boats” 
    Russia can’t even build large engines for warships: as Reuters points out, several Russian warships under construction are currently sitting high and dry because they are waiting on gas turbine engines ordered from Ukraine, which was made a bit more complicated after Russia invaded the place.  As the battlecruisers and aircraft carriers age out Russia will slowly transition from an global expeditionary naval force to one with only regional reach.

  29. Simultaneous release of several think tanks analysis of the adequacy of Ukraine’s 250,000 volunteer army and the paper tiger nature of Russia’s military state the facts as they are.  Russian trolls can not accept the truth about their mother Russia and blame Brian…

  30. Russia has a modest economy not much larger than that of Australia. Despite this, Russia is often called a superpower which it no longer is, and yet much of the World defers to Russia because of its supposed superpower.

  31. Funny how scared of Russia the US is in the media now this BS story. If Russia was that weak the US would have decided who their new president is and stolen all of their gold and money as they do to the other small nations in the sandbox. The other problem Russia is not running the present clown show in their politics instead intelligent measured diplomacy is the order of the day. Try as they might the US just can’t seem to start a war anywhere to save its economy. Like watching a modern day fall of Rome.

  32. Yawn! One week it’s “Russia can take out NATO in 2 days” and next week it’s “Russia can be held back by Ukraine with a few gun boats”.

    Click bait nonsense

  33. Of course the arms-to-nutjobs policy goes back a long way before that. It was US logistic and tech support of the USSR that started this whole problem in the first place.

  34. Only America’s Cold War Deep State and its cronies continue to want to go after Russia. The rest of the American people have had enough of this rollercoaster ride, and want to get off. Thus the American people have put themselves in the crosshairs and made themselves targets, just like the Russians they decline to fight. The Cold War Deep State and its minions have decided that both have to be put on the ropes and brought low.

    Identity politics and guerrilla activists can be used to wear down the American people, just as missiles/gunboats and guerrillas can be used to wear down the Russians. That’s what the Cold War Deep State has decreed. The sham investigation against the elected Whitehouse over so-called Russia collusion was just the opening shot fired in that war.

  35. “The US previously provided a moderate level of arms for A̶f̶g̶h̶a̶n̶i̶s̶t̶a̶n̶ Pakistan and jihadists under its control to increase the cost of the war for the Soviets.”

    The result was that armaments and training were supplied to people even more dangerous than the Soviets, who then carried out a variety of attacks including 9-11. This crisis then led to the US rushing to invade Afghanistan, and then later even Iraq – both of which inevitably imposed huge costs on the United States. So one has to ask whether this arms-to-nutjobs game really saved the US anything, or just led to massive Blowback (aka. karma – ‘what goes around comes around’)

    Will arms to the Ukrainians lead to similar craziness? Only time – and bodycounts – will tell.

  36. So this article started ridiculously claiming that some missile boats would pose a threat to surface ships and submarines that would fire cruise missiles into ukraine from hundreds of kilometers away (even from caspian sea lol) and ended up explaining how china is slowly owning ukraine and buying their land and infrastructure which is perhaps a bigger problem for them and whole europe and maybe someone should be reminded what happened to the ukrainian missile boats that tried to enter azov sea 🙂

  37. As an analysis, the report makes some very basic mistakes:
    a) The Russian economy has been re-surging for over a decade
    b) Russia is very adept in exploiting NATO’s weaknesses (e.g. they got hold of the Crimea basically without firing a shot).
    c) Russia does not need more advanced military equipment (they already have good reliable gear and do invest in good capabilities (e-defense, digital battlefield network integration, impressive reliable ground artillery). Good tactics and a preparedness to use the strength they have suffices because Europe/Ukraine/NATO are not acting very organised.
    d) Europe is not willing to engage in battle with Russia because it has no political will to lose lives over a corrupt buffer state, i.e. Ukraine. Support for Ukraine is non-existent (except lip-service) and what support exists is declining because a majority of Europe wants Ukraine as an independent buffer state and not as core EU member, against if America would push for it. Russia on the other hand has no trouble in gambling the lives of a certain number of soldiers.
    e) Russia is perfectly happy with the current low intensity conflict to reach its political goals (dissuading Europe from expansion) and has no intention nor need for a full out war.
    f) Europe expands imports from Russia, see Russia as business partner /export market and are not willing to support an American escalation of the conflict.
    g) China has the industrial edge in attrition warfare, a US proxy war is stupidity.

  38. The aid to Ukraine should be sustained and be mostly in finance to help them build their industries and military and favorable trade deals to straighten their economy. Direct military deals will only cause more tension with Russia. Ukraine has a lot of arms building know how and helping them do it will make them stronger then selling them equipment. Ukraine can be used to break the back of neo imperialist Russia as Afghanistan was used to help break the Soviet Union.

    China belt is a design to create debt ridden China dependent countries all over the world. They have no interest in bringing progress to the world as the US has been doing. The port that they have recently seized in Sri Lanka is a good example of China intentions.

  39. The use of small missile boats to take out large naval uses is completely dependent on the side with the larger craft NOT having air superiority or equivalent sensor dominance. The missiles that both sides carry outstrip the shipboard sensor suites; so in order to use them at maximum range you need remote sensors – traditionally airborne, but surface and subsurface can work. Note that the further away you shoot, the bigger the area the target could be in by time the missile arrives, so the missile has to find it and recognize it with it’s onboard sensors and processors. Maybe you can bounce an image back to the launch platform to help, maybe you can’t – the ECM environment is going to nasty. What this targeting uncertainty sets up is the opportunity for a missile sump; where a single ship in the area (the one with the biggest signature) soaks up the majority of the missiles.

    As a naval commander in this scenario I would augment my task group with an old tanker or freight, add radar reflectors, smudge pots and some hand held missile defenses. I’ll be happy to exchange that hull for my carrier, cruisers, tin cans and support ships. I’ve only been studying this problem since ’85, so what do I know.

  40. And imagine there are people out there that think that Russia can challenge the whole NATO in a conventional war. In reality they would have problems taking Ukraine hehe.

  41. I hope this isn’t true. The weaker Russia’s conventional forces are, the sooner they would turn to tactical, or theater nuclear weapons, assuming they don’t already have nuclear devices hidden in Ukraine. I really wish the CIA hadn’t spawned/helped the Orange revolution. I’m getting tired of it’s blow back endangering the whole planet. The SOBs just can’t let go of the cold war.

  42. Good analysis.  Russia is going down. A few more years and Ukraine will have more effective ground forces than Russia.

  43. This is why Vlad threatens the US with “tsunami” bombs. A one use weapon that would end his country.

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