by SIMPLICIUS THE THINKER
The article gives some interesting insight as to what U.S. intel services believe Russia’s shell production capacities are. They claim 2.5M per year, which is roughly in line with my previously stated estimates of 3 – 3.5M that I wrote at length about here:
Shells, Shells, And More Shells Let’s discuss the prospects of sustainment for both sides, Nato/Ukraine vs. Russia. We know that Ukraine uses a purported 5,000-6,000 shells per day, and that Russia has been estimated to fire as many as 60,000—though that’s a high ‘peak’ amount—the daily average over the course of the war being closer to ~20,000-30,000.
While this is not news to us, what’s news is that this appears to be the first true confirmation from Western officials that Russia’s productive capacities are that high. Keep in mind 2.5M a year is nearly ~210k a month. How much does the ‘superpower’ of the U.S.A. produce per month?
And those are official numbers, not guesses. You read that right, it is now officially confirmed by the U.S. government itself that Russia produces literally 20x more shells than the U.S.
Sure, the U.S. was claiming to be ramping up towards 45k a month, with the eventual goal of reaching 90k in about 3-5 years.
So, the first part of your question, regarding U.S.’s ability, you seemed to believe they can do so because of the endless dollar, but in reality, the U.S., too, suffers from the same problems you mentioned for the EU. Which are: lack of human capital, infrastructure, escalatory/expansion headroom, etc. Not only are there supply chain, skilled labor, and materials bottlenecks, but they are issues not easily addressed, and by “not easily” some people believe, not-addressable, period. Meaning, the U.S. will not be able to ramp up at all.
I previously wrote at length about the reasons why. One of them is that the factoreis simply don’t exist. Recall when I wrote about U.S. having only one gunpowder factory in Louisiana and it blew up. It also has really only one shell production line (made up of several factories that each contribute a different element of the shell). The fact is, you can’t just build new factories from scratch, it doesn’t work that way. There are massive obstacles to overcome, not only in the above mentioned skilled workforce, materials, etc., but also the lack of incentive.
I wrote before about how it takes billions of dollars for companies to introduce new production lines, machines, testing, etc. This is typically only feasible for them if there are very high-confidence long term profits to be had. But these companies know that the Ukraine war’s outlook is iffy and that it can end at any moment. They don’t want to blow billions of their dollars fabricating huge new production lines only for the war to end several months down the line, and suddenly all ‘demand’ for their supply go to zero, which means they will have lost all that investment.
In Europe in particular where their energy needs have just been crippled by the decoupling from Russia’s cheap energy, production costs are now higher than ever. Thus, the upfront investment costs for opening new lines is insanely unprofitable and untenable. And with their crippled economies, high inflation, aging work force, etc., even getting the needed skilled labor is proving an insurmountable issue.
From the WashPost article:
Much of the announced military aid to Ukraine from Western governments has been sourced from equipment that would have gone out of service any way, Watling said. “Most of what we have given is stuff we have already paid for a long time ago, and we would have had to pay to decommission it … We are now talking about a situation where we have to put money on the table because we have to invest in industrial capacity.”
They go on to say that while the EU signed a ‘500 million euro plan’ to ramp up production, not a single actual contract has even been issued yet:
The European Commission this month announced a 500 million euro plan to boost production in Europe of the artillery shells Ukraine needs. Military experts say that although the initiative marks a significant shift, it has been too slow to act. The E.U. is yet to issue any new contracts, Watling and Barrons said, and there has been protracted wrangling over how a separate 1 billion euro program would be spent to purchase further artillery shells and missiles.
And for anyone who disbelieved my earlier numbers, once again this brand new article confirms America’s paltry production rates:
Last year, the Ukrainian army was blasting through 180,000 artillery shell rounds per month. Before the war, U.S. production stood at 14,500 shells per month, and E.U. production was around the same. The United States has been faster to respond to depleting stockpiles, boosting domestic production to 20,000 rounds a month and investing in new capacity to eventually increase that to 90,000 rounds per month.
But they confirm that the entire EU also produced another 14.5k per month, for a grand total of around 30k. Meanwhile, they said at the beginning Russia produces 210k a month. That means Russia is outproducing the entire ‘global north’ and Western world by an extreme factor.
BUT: in modern warfare, this is still no where near enough. That 210k amount only allows you to fire a measly 7,000 shells a day, and we know Russia likes to consume upwards of 50-60k a day. Wagner alone was firing that number per day just in one city, Bakhmut.
This is why I estimated Russia’s production will eventually go up towards 7-9M per year.
The article ends with this gut punch:
“Russia has the capacity to mobilize its own economy in support of the armed forces and control its own destiny in a way that Ukraine can’t,” said Barrons. “The critical weakness” for Ukraine “is its reliance on Western inventory and industry.”
As to your last question about a PanEuropean Empire. I doubt it, it seems to me that the EU and NATO will collapse first before it gets to that point. The people are way too angry and are rising up against all their Eurocrat puppets. In fact, a new NYTimes article just called the gathering of G7 leaders in Hiroshima as a ‘club for unloved leaders’, citing the fact that every G7 leader who attended pretty much has an abysmal approval rating of less than 30-40%.
Survey data compiled by Morning Consult in recent days indicated that the leaders of only four out of 22 major countries studied had approval ratings above 50 percent: Narendra Modi of India, Alain Berset of Switzerland, Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico and Anthony Albanese of Australia. Mr. Modi, who is in Hiroshima as an observer, is the envy of the town with a 78 percent approval score, though this is in a country where religious divisions are exploited for political gain and the prime minister’s top political opponent was kicked out of Parliament for defamation.
No G7 leader, by contrast, could muster the support of a majority. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni of Italy, elected just last fall, fared best with a 49 percent approval rating, according to Morning Consult, followed by Mr. Biden with 42 percent, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada with 39 percent, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany with 34 percent, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain with 33 percent and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan with 31 percent. President Emmanuel Macron of France trailed the pack with a dismal 25 percent.
Thus, I think the dissolution of these totalitarian structures is much more likely than them consolidating. It’s only a matter of time that more and more nationalist, far-right-style leaders like Orban are elected or major societal unrest completely conflagrates these countries.
With that said, I do think they will push for what you said. The true power elites at the stop will stop at nothing for their dream of establishing a total one world government state, but I simply think there’s a stronger chance of them failing.
As for the last portion about Taiwan: “And how would this be impacted with the unknown probability of the pending skirmish in Taiwan?”
This part is very clear: top U.S. officials have recently stated very openly how uncomfortable they are with the long drawing out of this war, and the mass expenditures they’re forced to incur while Taiwan is gravely needing their attention. For instance, watch the tail end of the video at the top of this article, around the 7:20 mark
U.S. congressman Michael Waltz impatiently states that Ukraine is eating up critical resources needed for the IndoPaCom Theater (Indo-Pacific Command). And I’ve seen several other prominent figures recently intimate the same thing. So to me, I believe this sentiment is very prominent and growing daily in the beltway establishments.
Just take a look at some of my other responses in this mailbag regarding munitions expenditures, and U.S. stockpile drawdowns, such as the M777, which was deemed completely exhausted from stockpiles. This goes for every other weapon as well. They’re not even able to produce enough of them to continue feeding Ukraine, yet they have a giant monster that’s even bigger than the proverbial ‘elephant in the room’ in China staring them down over Taiwan.
Ultimately, what this boils down to is my ongoing belief, which I’ve written about several times recently, that after this year the establishment will really want to wind the Ukraine war down, and likely seek a Korean DMZ scenario. Particularly because this converges with the 2024 election cycle. Combined, I believe these things will be a critical mass of pressure that will force the West to have to either abandon or wind down Ukraine.
That can only be changed if for some reason China strongly signals some manner of a posture change on Taiwan, or causes the west to strongly believe they won’t attempt to take Taiwan by force anytime soon. However, we know from previous reports that Western insiders believe the timeline for the Taiwan scenario is around 2025 give or take, so there’s great pressure to arm Taiwan ASAP. The ultimate question though, is what is more important to the west, Taiwan or Ukraine? Because they clearly can’t have both and have to sacrifice one to stand a chance at the other. But this is a topic I intend to do more thinking about and treat at length in its own piece sometime in the future.