Weapons: Russia Overcomes Sanctions


October 5, 2023: Russia has developed ways to produce more cruise missiles despite the severe economic sanctions imposed after they invaded Ukraine. Russia has found new sources for components, some of them obtained by smuggling or purchases of components that can be adapted for use in missile production. Most of the smuggling is done via Armenia and Turkey, two countries that are hospitable to smuggling if it has some benefits for locals. Although Turkey is a NATO member, smuggling is tolerated if the smugglers will pay the right people for access. Such corrupt behavior has long prevented Turkey from joining the European Union. Russia has expended most of its missile stockpiles and the sanctions had, for a while, prevented Russia from replacing those missiles. Restoring Russian missile production is going to hurt Ukraine because the missiles are difficult to intercept and cause a lot of damage to Ukrainian infrastructure and armed forces. NATO is seeking to disrupt the smuggling while it provides Ukraine with more air defense systems that can deal with incoming missiles. The problem is that NATO cannot supply Ukraine with enough defensive systems to protect all the economic targets Russia wants to attack. NATO considers sanctions the best way to prevent increased Russian missile production but appears that current efforts will not be sufficient. The solution is more effective sanctions and that effort is underway.

For sanctions to work they must constantly evolve as the sanctioned nations seek ways to evade the sanctions. This is an economic conflict as harsher sanctions are easier to impose than they are to evade. Russia is already spending more of its national budget on weapons production than it is on social services for the Russian population. The Russian government is taking a risk here because, if too much more privation is imposed on its civilian population, there will be more internal opposition to the war effort. This cannot be ignored but Russia feels they can endure this until they can’t. It is difficult to determine how much privation Russians will tolerate before they actively protest the situation. Russia has been able to limit popular protests to the war effort but the protests can increase to the point where the Russian government cannot ignore the welfare of its own people.




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