The Biden administration’s deal to free WNBA star Brittney Griner for arms dealer Viktor Bout could help Russia overcome its potential shortage of ammunition.
“This is where Viktor Bout, whom the Biden administration recklessly handed back to Putin, comes in,” Rebekah Koffler, a former DIA intelligence officer and author of “Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat,” told Fox News Digital. America”.
Now Koffler fears that Bout could help Putin overcome obstacles. “His experience as an international arms dealer is critical to the Kremlin now, as he knows the details of the clandestine networks and arms dealers he used when selling Soviet-era military hardware to terrorists and warlords around the world.” . Koffler said. “Bout, no doubt, will help Putin’s war machine huff.”
Koffler’s comments come after the Biden administration brokered a contentious deal with Russia last week, swapping Griner for Bout, a Russian arms dealer known as the “Death Dealer.”
The swap could end up paying dividends for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ability to circumvent sanctions that have limited Moscow’s ability to replenish the munitions its forces are rapidly burning up.
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“There is no question that Russia is struggling to replenish its rapidly depleting ammunition stockpile locally after 10 months of fighting in Ukraine,” Koffler said. “Putin is probably aware of the high burn rate of munitions and precision-guided munitions. And because he is planning a long war of attrition in Ukraine, as he indicated last week, Russia increased its military budget in November for 2023 at $84 billion, more than 40% higher than originally projected.”
On Monday, a US military official told reporters that Russia’s available munitions that the Pentagon classifies as “fully usable” could be depleted by early next year, forcing Moscow to turn to more unreliable rocket and artillery shells than previously. some cases are over 40 years old. .
The switch to older, less reliable shells could pose a danger to Russian forces due to rising failure rates and could even endanger Ukrainian civilians, who are likely to encounter unexploded ordnance across the country.
“So, this essentially puts the Russian forces in the position of having to make a choice about what risks they are willing to accept in terms of higher failure rates, unpredictable performance and whether or not these degraded conditions [of older ammunition] it would require any kind of renovation, which obviously requires a certain amount of experience and time,” the official said.
“You load the ammunition and cross your fingers and hope it fires, or when it lands it explodes,” the official added.
Russian troops have been using munitions at a staggering rate since the country began its invasion of Ukraine, underscoring a Russian defense industry that has faced difficulties replenishing stocks due to international sanctions against the Russian economy.
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“Although Putin relocated Russia’s wartime economy even before he invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, their production capacity is hampered by sanctions that limit Russia’s ability to import foreign components it relies on,” he said Koffler noting that he believes Russia “is still capable of manufacturing long-range missiles, such as the Kh-101, a stealthy air-launched cruise missile carrying conventional warheads.”
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Koffler also argued that ammunition shortages were unlikely to deter Russia from continuing its war with Ukraine.
“To expect Putin to stop waging war on Ukraine due to a shortage of ammunition would be wishful thinking,” Koffler said. “Russian troops will use old stockpiles of ordnance, degraded ammunition, everything, including the kitchen sink, to do Putin’s bidding.”
Reached for comment, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council pointed to Fox News comments made by National Security Advisor Jake Sulluivan during a news conference on Monday.
Asked to respond to Bout expressing willingness to join Russia’s war effort in Ukraine, Sullivan said the United States would focus on “things that actually pose a real threat to Ukraine.”
“From our point of view, what we want to do is make sure that we blunt any Russian efforts to be able to gain an advantage in Ukraine, whether it’s a military advantage or an advantage through the brutalization and destruction of civilian infrastructure,” he said. stated Sullivan. “So our focus will be on those things that actually pose a real threat to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, not the comments that are made on TV shows. And we will continue to focus on that as we move forward.”