In spite of Western sanctions, can Russia still produce cutting-edge missiles?

Some of the cruise missiles Russia used to strike important Ukrainian infrastructure in late October were produced just months after Western sanctions were put in place to restrict Moscow’s access to necessary supplies.

Following Russia’s attack on Ukraine’s water and electricity systems on November 23, experts have looked at the remnants of Kh-101 cruise missiles that were discovered in Kiev, the country’s capital. According to markings on these weapons, one of these missiles was created this summer, and another was finished after September, a team of investigators’ report from December 5 stated.

One of the experts hypothesised that either Moscow had a sizable stockpile of raw materials before the conflict started, as evidenced by the fact that Russia has continued to produce sophisticated guided missiles like the Kh-101 in spite of Western sanctions.

The Conflict Arms Research group, a nongovernmental organisation with headquarters in the UK and a mandate to detect and track weapons and ammunition used in conflict, published the findings in a study a few months ago.

Shortly before the attacks, a small team of researchers from this organisation travelled to Kiev at the invitation of the Ukrainian security agencies.

Investigators discovered that nearly all of Russia’s cutting-edge military hardware is produced with Western chips during four research trips to Kiev.

They were unable to tell if the Kh-101 remains they examined came from missiles that impacted their targets and exploded, or if it was shot down while it was still in flight.

The marking on Kh-101 missiles consists of a 13-digit number. According to investigators, the first three digits stand for the missile factory, the following three signify which of the two Kh-101 types it is, and the final two represent the moment it was made. The serial number and manufacture batch of the rocket are claimed to be represented by the final five digits.

The team’s analysis agreed with that of Piotr Butowski, a Polish journalist who focuses on Russian warplanes and military hardware.

The production site number is always the first 3 digits, which are always 315. In Dubna, close to Moscow, the Raduga company creates and produces Kh-101 missiles.

A US defence intelligence analysis confirmed that Butowski’s analysis was accurate in an interview conducted prior to the publication of the report.

Officials from the Pentagon claim that since the conflict started, Russia has launched tens of thousands of long-range weapons, including cruise missiles and short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, against Ukrainian targets.

Russian cruise missile supplies may eventually run out, although this is uncertain. Because they make up the majority of the nation’s arsenal, some analysts assert, the military frequently employs older varieties of ammunition before newer ones.

On November 23, the same day that Russia attacked Kiev with cruise missiles, US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin told reporters that Moscow would have a harder time producing precision-guided weapons quickly “due to the restrictions they face on microchips and other materials.”

It is challenging to determine whether Russia is running out of weapons, according to Damien Spleeters, who oversees the Organization for Research in Arms of Conflict’s investigation.

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