Russia Dramatically Increased Weapons Production in 2023 Despite Sanctions

Russia Dramatically Increased Weapons Production in 2023 Despite Sanctions

Despite facing international sanctions, Russia significantly ramped up its military production in 2023, delivering over 1,500 tanks and 22,000 drones to its armed forces.

The Russian Defense Ministry’s end-of-year report, obtained by Russian news agency Tass, indicates a marked increase in military equipment, including over 2,200 armored combat vehicles, 1,400 rocket and artillery vehicles and more than 12,000 automobile vehicles, with 1,400 of them being armored.

The Vladimir Putin-led army is now at over 84 percent sufficiency, according to the documents obtained by Tass. The surge in Russian military production is part of a broader effort to supply the Russian army, particularly for its operations in Ukraine, according to a Reuters report issued late last year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks through the scope as he shoots a Chukavin sniper rifle. Russia dramatically increased its weapons production over the course of 2023, putting the Russian army at 84 percent sufficiency.
ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images
The increase includes a wide range of military hardware, reflecting further escalation in Russia’s commitment to its “special military operation.” According to Bekhan Ozdoev, industrial director of the armament complex at Rostec, Russia’s leading state corporation in weapons manufacturing, the production volumes for various types of weapons have increased from two to ten times, Reuters reported.

In some cases, the output has been boosted by even more considerable margins, the Reuters report added.

The increase in production includes tanks, armored vehicles, rocket launchers, artillery and advanced missile systems like the Iskander short-range ballistic missile, the Pantsir medium-range surface-to-air missile system, and the hypersonic Kinzhal missile.

Newsweek has reached out to Russia’s Ministry of Defense for comment via email.

Putin’s directive to ramp up production is a counter to the influx of Western-supplied weapons to Ukraine and to mitigate the impact of extensive economic sanctions on Russia. While specific production volumes were not disclosed, the growth noted by Ozdoev coupled with the documents obtained by Tass point to Russia’s determination to bolster its military capabilities amid the ongoing conflict.

The sanctions imposed by Western nations, led by the U.S. and its allies, targeted key sectors of the Russian economy, including its military-industrial complex. The U.S., along with 37 other countries, enacted comprehensive export controls on Russia from February 2022.

The sanctions were intended to cripple Moscow’s ability to procure military technology and impose substantial costs on its military-industrial capabilities; however, Russia has effectively circumvented many of the restrictions.

Employing tactics such as rerouting critical imports via third countries, manipulating customs data and utilizing civilian entities to redirect items to military firms, Russia has maintained its military production. The resilience is partly due to the reliance of Russia’s military production on foreign components, particularly from countries not participating in the sanctions, including China, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, according to Foreign Policy.

Russia has also turned to nations like Iran and North Korea, which operate outside the international economic system, for supplies.

In response, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security have taken measures to identify and disrupt the supply chains. They published a list of high-priority items susceptible to diversion to Russia and Belarus, including integrated circuits, memory devices and radio navigational receivers, according to the Foreign Policy report, which are crucial for precision-guided weapons systems.

As the war in Ukraine approaches the two-year mark, the international coalition is seeking more effective strategies to prevent Russia from manufacturing more ammunition and replenishing its military supplies, the Foreign Policy report said.

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