Russia's military is 'almost completely reconstituted' as it goes into overdrive to shore up losses in Ukraine: US official

Russia's military is 'almost completely reconstituted' as it goes into overdrive to shore up losses in Ukraine: US official
  • Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said Russia had "almost completely" restored its military.

  • He made the remarks on Wednesday as he spoke on Indo-Pacific security.

  • Reports differ on how well Russia is revitalizing its military after heavy losses in Ukraine.

Russia has "almost completely" reformed its military capabilities after taking heavy losses in Ukraine, a top US official says.

"I think we have assessed throughout the last couple of months that Russia has almost completely reconstituted militarily," Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said on Wednesday at a talk hosted by the Center for a New American Security. Campbell cofounded CNAS, a Washington-based think tank.

He said Moscow suffered initial setbacks during the Ukraine war but had "retooled and now poses a threat to Ukraine."

"But not just to Ukraine," Campbell said. "Its newfound capabilities pose a longer-term challenge to stability in Europe and threatens NATO allies."

The deputy state secretary pointed to Russia receiving industrial and commercial support from China as he spoke in a larger discussion on Indo-Pacific security.

China, the US's main rival in the Indo-Pacific, has also been Russia's largest trading partner, with $240 billion in commerce between both nations last year.

Governments and think tanks have offered differing analyses of how Russia is revitalizing its hard-hit military. In a report that was declassified in December, US intelligence estimated that Russia had lost 315,000 troops since it began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. It has also burned through much of its aerial and support inventory, war analysts say.

In the wake of those losses, Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent his nation's military-industrial complex into overdrive, focusing its economy on producing shells, weapons, and equipment.

Military vehicles are pictured at a plant, which is part of Russian missile manufacturer Almaz-Antey, in Saint Petersburg on January 18, 2023.
Military vehicles at a plant in St. Petersburg in January 2023.ILYA PITALEV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images

Campbell's remarks appear to be one of the most optimistic Western assessments of the Kremlin's production push thus far.

In December, the UK military published an intelligence update saying it would probably take Russia 10 years to replenish its ground troops with highly skilled forces, citing a "transition toward a lower-quality, high-quantity mass army."

And in January, Germany's defense minister, Boris Pistorius, said Russia was building a military that could attack NATO but would probably only reach such a capacity in "five to eight years."

Lithuania's estimation is five to seven years.

Others say Russia is making steady progress. The Royal United Services Institute, a London security think tank, said in February that Moscow had bolstered its troops in Ukraine from a disorganized 360,000-strong force in 2023 to a better-trained 410,000 soldiers in 2024.

"Although the Russian military's aspiration to increase in size to 1.5 million personnel has not been realized, recruiters are currently achieving almost 85% of their assigned targets for contracting troops to fight in Ukraine," researchers wrote.

The report highlighted that Russia was also rapidly producing about 1,500 tanks and 3,000 armored vehicles a year but was unlikely to sustain that capacity because much of this production comes from refurbishing older vehicles.

The Institute for the Study of War, based in Washington, said the RUSI report indicated that Russia might be able to sustain its heavy losses for another two years.

Ukraine meanwhile suffers from waning US support as congressional leaders lock up billions in aid — including much-needed ammunition and weapons — over domestic politics.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that his country's exhausted ammo stocks are severely handicapping its forces as Russia advances slowly in the east.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, who previously blocked a $60 billion package to Ukraine, recently proposed a plan to use frozen Russian assets to fund Kyiv. It's still not clear how much congressional support that plan will get.

The US State Department and CNAS didn't immediately respond to requests for comment sent outside regular business hours by Business Insider.

Correction: April 4, 2024 — An earlier version of this story misstated the source of the estimation that Russia had lost 315,000 troops. It was US intelligence, not UK intelligence.

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