Spoiler: Putin’s annihilation of Ukraine is not going according to his plan. He did not capture Kyiv within two days and did not manage to kill Zelenskyy. Anyone who daily keeps tracks of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has seen how hard the brave Ukrainian people resist and causing many casualties in the Russian army, not to mention different kinds of weapons and equipment.
Many military experts have, put forward several factors explaining the weaknesses in the Kremlin war. Just to mention a few, these include bad or even false intelligence of the Ukrainian forces, the Ukrainians resistance, the terrain and more. Add to this the very poor planning with many unprepared Russian conscripts who believed that they were on an exercise extremely poor logistics causing vehicles to run out of fuel and soldiers out of food, faltering communications, and coordination between and of the military units. Reports about old Soviet-type Russian artillery, hitting civilians instead of military targets, and shortages of missiles and rockets, bare witness that the Russian military is less mighty than feared.
These are the consequences of the weak state of Russia, the malfunctioning of the Russian economy with its low-efficient military industry. These are characteristics you find in a society with pervasive corruption. Corruption which is informally sanctioned by Putin who is has shaped the Kleptocracy aka Russia.
I have no knowledge in military operations. In case you want to read analyses explaining the problems facing the Russian war machine, here is one by David Petraeus.
Corruption in the Kremlin corrupts the whole Russian societs
This post is about how the pervasive corruption has undermined the capacity of the Russian military. Russia is the most corrupt country in Europe according to Transparency International. Putin has successfully defended this position since 2016. Russia best describes as a Kleptocracy. Creating a corrupt elite which enriches itself on behalf of the Russian people have repercussions on the behaviour of the citizens and the functioning of the society.
As I wrote in this post:
“In countries where the state has been captured, as in Russia, the most corrupt country in Europe, corruption benefits state owned firms at the expense of private investments. Corruption also has adverse effects on the distributions of income and wealth.
Corruption also erodes trust in government authorities with repercussions on the behaviour of firms and households. Poor quality of public services and rampant corruption provide incentives to evade taxes. Uncertainty about framework conditions discourage entrepreneurship and investments.”
Countries with weak corruptions have strong institutions guaranteeing Rule of Law but as I wrote here.
“It is not in Putin’s interest to create such institutions. On the contrary, that would threaten the interests of Putin’s allies. Free entry to markets and competition from new innovative firms create losers. And when the losers are among the economic and political elites with close links to the Kremlin, it is a more politically challenging problem than spurring productivity growth and increasing ordinary Russians’ welfare.”
And now Russian soldiers reap what he has sowed.
Effects of Putin’s corruption
“Inozemtsev argues that Russia in general and the Russian defence sector in particular faces at least three key challenges. Fírstly, the lack of innovation in the defence sector and the poor quality of engineering education. Secondly, Russia’s lagging in knowledge-intensive production such as micro-electronics, new materials and computer technologies. Thirdly, the defence sector consists of state-owned monopolies without any competition but suffering from financial mismanagement and corruption.”
Polina Beliakova provides an illustrative example of how corruption erodes the Russian military capacity in this article for Politico.
“For example, in 2012, a Russian arms company received about $26 million to develop an aircraft system for the interception of nonstrategic missiles, according to local press reports. But the research never took off, as the firm signed fraudulent contracts with shell companies, some of which were registered to the addresses of public toilets in Russia’s Samara region. In a separate case from 2016, another company which was responsible for the supply of radio navigation equipment and control systems for high-precision ammunition, was embroiled in an embezzlement scandal in which its leadership imitated research and development activities to steal money through fraudulent contracts”
A deep-dive assessment of the corruption in the Russian military industry is provided by Transparency International here. The authors conclude that:
“Russia’s defence sector is at high risk of corruption, owing to extremely limited external oversight of the policies, budgets, activities and acquisitions of defence institutions. Transparency is also restricted, particularly in procurement and safeguards to corruption for military operations are weak. Anti-corruption safeguards are, however, strongest in personnel management.”
This picture summarises their assessment of corruption within the Russian military industry.
According to the report, Russian defence companies have low or very low commitment to Anti-Corruption Policies and Transparency.
And here’s a report by the World Peace Foundation corroborating the pervasive corruption.
“Today, corruption still constitutes a significant problem facing the Russian arms industry. This report discusses publicly available information on corruption in the Russian defense sector, especially the arms industry, identifying key cases of corruption that have become visible in recent years, in particular since 2008, when Russia’s current set of military reforms, and major rearmament drive, began.
Any discussion of corruption in Russia, including in the defense sector, must take into account the central role of corruption in the Russian state.”
And also Fox News, although not Tucker Carlson, reports that
“But more troubling for Russian troops would be the shortcomings in supplies and equipment: Pictures on social media indicate that troops carried rations that had expired in 2015, and the equipment appears dated, with radio communications transmitting over open channels and lacking long-range capabilities. Tanks and vehicles abandoned during combat show evidence of poor maintenance and care.”
Is Russian corruption good news for the Ukrainian armed forces but bad news for Ukrainian civilians?
As this blogger writes, the pervasive Russian corruption is good news for Ukrainian soldiers. It has been to the advantage of the brave Ukrainian forces who resist Kremlin’s war machine
But it also bad news for Ukrainian citizens as Kori Schake writes in the Washington Post:
“There’s reason to worry that the ineptitude and lack of professionalism that Russian forces have displayed in the first three weeks of the conflict are making fighting considerably more brutal for civilians than a more competent military would — and increasing the prospects that the war escalates.”
Putin is a pure thug and murderous dictator who doesn’t care about Ukrainian lives
Whether this contributes to the indiscriminate brutal shelling of schools, kindergartens, hospitals, humanitarian corridors for refugees, apartment buildings and the Mariupol theatre which was clearly marked with the word Children in Russian, is hard to say. As Biden said Putin is a “pure thug” and “murderous dictator”. Russia is terrorizing Ukrainians.
Putin couldn’t care less about Ukrainian lives.