A senior official from the U.S. Department of Defense on Tuesday said that economic sanctions have made it difficult for Russia to replenish its inventory of weapons.
During a background briefing, the senior Defense official said Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s military forces have expended “quite a bit” of their weapons and armament, including a substantial amount of precision-guided munitions. The official added that the department had reason to believe that economic sanctions were “having a bite” on Russia’s ability to replace these stocks in its defense industrial base, particularly with regard to electronic components for precision-guided munitions.
“We know that the sanctions are responsible for making it harder for Mr. Putin to replenish those stocks,” the official said.
Russia’s economy has taken a severe financial hit due to the economic sanctions imposed on it from the international community since it launched its invasion in Ukraine on February 24. A March 14 report from CNBC said the country’s economy could be set back by as much as 30 years as a result of the costs of the war and the toll of the sanctions.
With fewer countries now relying on Russia’s natural gas exports, the nation is also increasingly feeling the heavy price of its war efforts. At its current rate, Russia is spending approximately $900 million a day on the war, according to a recent estimate given to Newsweek by Sean Spoonts, editor-in-chief of the military news outlet SOFREP.
Spoonts explained the factors that went into SOFREP’s estimate. He said the figure includes paying the Russian soldiers and providing those troops with munitions, bullets and rockets, as well as the cost to repair lost or damaged military equipment. Spoonts also said replacing the thousands of critical weapons and cruise missiles that have been used during the war will cost about $1.5 million apiece.
Another costly loss for Russia came with the sinking of the Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet. Forbes Ukraine estimated the loss of the warship to be around $750 million.
The British Ministry of Defence recently said that the war will cause some of Russia’s most elite military units to be weakened for years. In a May 2 tweet, the ministry wrote that more than one-quarter of the 120 battalion tactical groups that Russia committed to the conflict had been “rendered combat ineffective” and added that Russia’s most elite forces had “suffered the highest level of attrition.” The 120 battalion groups represented about 65 percent of the country’s ground combat strength at the start of the invasion, according to the ministry.
Russia’s restocking efforts have also been beset by building issues, according to a report from Ukraine. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine claimed in a March 21 Facebook post that the manufacture of tanks and other armored vehicles at two factories had been halted “due to the lack of receipts of foreign-made components.”
During the onset of the war, many experts had cited Russia’s military superiority when predicting Russia would have quick success in Ukraine. However, Russia’s military has failed to take control of the capital city of Kyiv while also struggling in other major cities. During a briefing last week, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby credited “stiff Ukrainian resistance” for Russia’s setbacks.
Newsweek reached out to the Russian Foreign Ministry for comment.