The Biden administration’s deal to release WNBA star Brittney Griner for arms dealer Viktor Bout could help Russia overcome its potential ammunition shortage.
“This is where Viktor Bout, who was recklessly handed back to Putin by the Biden administration, comes in,” Rebekah Koffler, a former DIA intelligence officer and author of “Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America,” told Fox News Digital.
Now Koffler fears that Bout could help Putin overcome the obstacles. “His experience as an international arms dealer is critical now for the Kremlin, because he knows the ins and outs of the clandestine networks and arms dealers he used when selling Soviet-era military equipment to terrorists and warlords around the world.” Koffler said. “Bout will undoubtedly help Putin’s war machine move forward.”
Koffler’s comments come after the Biden administration brokered a controversial deal with Russia last week, swapping Griner for Bout, a Russian arms dealer known as the “Merchant of Death.”
The exchange could end up paying dividends in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ability to circumvent sanctions that have limited Moscow’s ability to replenish munitions his forces are rapidly depleting.
FIGHTERS OF RUSSIA’S WAGNER GROUP BURN 2000 ROUNDS OF AMMUNITION PER DAY IN FIGHT AGAINST DETERMINED UKRAINIAN ARMY
“There is no question that Russia is struggling to replenish, locally, its rapidly depleting ammunition stockpile, after 10 months of fighting in Ukraine,” Koffler said. “Putin is likely aware of the high consumption rate of munitions and precision guided munitions. And since he is planning a protracted war of attrition in Ukraine, as he indicated last week, in November Russia increased its 2023 military budget to $84 billion, more than 40% more than originally planned.”
On Monday, a US military official told reporters that Russia’s available munitions that the Pentagon classifies as “fully serviceable” could run out early next year, forcing Moscow to resort to rockets and missiles. less reliable artillery that, in some cases, are more than 40 years old. .
The move to the older, less reliable shells could pose a danger to Russian forces as a result of rising failure rates and could even endanger Ukrainian civilians, who are likely to find unexploded ordnance across the country.
“So this essentially puts the Russian forces in a position where they have to choose what risks they’re willing to accept in terms of increased failure rates, unpredictable performance, and whether or not these conditions degrade. [of older ammunition] would require any type of refurbishment, which of course requires a certain amount of expertise and time,” the official said.
“You load the ammunition and cross your fingers and hope it goes off, or when it goes down it explodes,” the official added.
Russian troops have been using up munitions at a staggering rate since the country began its invasion of Ukraine, highlighting a Russian defense industry that has struggled to replenish stocks amid international sanctions against the Russian economy.
RUSSIAN MILITARY EQUIPMENT INSUFFICIENT FOR HARD WINTERS, LEADS SOLDIERS TO DEATH OF HYPOTHERMIA
“Although Putin transitioned the Russian economy under war conditions even before invading Ukraine on February 24, his production capacity is hampered by sanctions that limit Russia’s ability to import foreign components on which it depends.” Koffler said, noting that he believes Russia “can still make long-range missiles, such as the Kh-101, a stealthy air-launched cruise missile that carries conventional warheads.”
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Koffler also argued that ammunition shortages were unlikely to deter Russia from continuing its war with Ukraine.
“To expect Putin to stop waging war against Ukraine because of ammunition shortages would be wishful thinking,” Koffler said. “Russian troops will use old stocks of ammunition, 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 adviser Jake Sullivan during a news conference Monday.
Asked to respond to Bout by expressing his willingness to join the Russian war effort in Ukraine, Sullivan said the United States would focus on “things that really pose a genuine threat to Ukraine.”
“From our perspective, what we want to do is make sure that we’re mitigating any Russian effort to be able to gain an advantage in the Ukraine, whether it’s a military advantage or an advantage by brutalizing and destroying civilian infrastructure,” Sullivan said. “So our focus will be on those things that actually pose a genuine threat to Ukraine and the people of Ukraine, not on the comments that are made on TV shows. And we’ll continue to focus on that as we go forward.”