ARIEL: I prithee,
Remember I have done thee worthy service,
Told thee no lies, made thee no mistakings, served
Without or grudge or grumblings. Thou didst promise
To bate me a full year.
PROSPERO: Dost thou forget
From what a torment I did free thee? (Shakespeare, The Tempest)
It took a while, but we finally got to the meat of Illarionov’s solliloquy, that “To be or not to be” moment; and now we are talking cold hard cash. In the form of military spending. We are talking about ledger books, and busy accountants assigning number to the category of “Expenditures”. We are talking about nations other than Ukraine spending tons of their own dough for tanks and bullets, and sending all that stuff to the Ukraine. How much cash will it take for these “friends of the Ukraine” to obtain their client’s victory in this proxy war against Russia? I mentioned before that, after Illarionov finishes laying out his case for cash, his host, the dimwit Feigin, showing that he understood nary a single word, asks the dumb question: “Will Lend Lease help Ukraine?”
Illarionov [at 24:00 minutes in]: Western experts estimate that Russia spends per day $900 million dollars on military operations in the Ukraine. If this is true, then we are talking about $27 billion per month. My own estimate is somewhat more modest than that; my estimate is around $500 million per day, in other words, $15 billion per month. I believe this is a realistic estimate of how much the aggressor’s coalition spends on the war against Ukraine. Taking into account both current expenses and also for equipment that has been purchased but not necessarily paid for yet; for example, we know that Russia has purchased some equipment and ammunition from Belorussia. [yalensis: True, but some of that might just be a bit of military pork, to help the Belorussian economy.]
Feigin [dimwit showing that he doesn’t understand the point]: “Yeah, the Belorussians gave the Russians their own stuff.”
Illarionov: I mean, some of that might be paid off immediately, or later, but it doesn’t matter, that’s not the point, we are just talking broadly about military expenditures in dollar amounts. So, let us settle on that estimated figure [of Russian military spending] in a range from $15 billion to $28 billion per month.
How much does Ukraine spend on the war? Not long ago [Ukrainian Prime Minister] Shmygal gave an interview, in which he named a specific amount for Ukraine’s military spending in May. Converting this number to dollars, it came to $4 billion dollars. So, $4 billion against Russia’s $15 billion. [Rolling his eyes comically, Feigin shows off his schoolboy math skills: “Nu, 3 times as much! Or something like that”. Wags his head.]
Illarioniov: At a minimum. So, a minimum factor of around 4 times greater. And a maximum of perhaps as much as 7 or 8 times greater. Taking into account whether this is a short war, or a long war, in the former type such factors as surprise and cunning play a much larger role. Using war tricks that can compensate for the equipment inferiority of one of the warring sides.
[26:51 minutes in] If, on the other hand, we are talking about a war of attrition, and if we stipulate that neither side makes a huge mistake — as, for example, the Russian side made a lot of mistakes in the first month of the war, before they got their act together — but making these assumptions and calculations, we can state that it is necessary for both sides to maintain the same levels of military spending. [Goes off on a sidebar about WWII, military spending practices of the Axis coalition vs the Allies coalition, and how the Allies increased their military spending and production. I think we all get his point, even though Feigin still looks bored and has no clue whither this is leading.]
Illarionov: My point is that these [economic] indicators are a valid predictor of the outcome on the field of battle. Nothing is guaranteed, that goes without saying, and military spending alone cannot win on the field of battle, nonetheless, it is a precondition for victory.
Therefore, in order to ensure at the very minimum a parity between the two competing sides, on the field of battle — and we are just talking about a parity here, simply holding the line, not yet talking about a massive counteroffensive; then we can see that $4 billion dollars a month, is very far from any kind of parity.
The inexorable conclusion is that the volume of military provisioning [to the Ukraine] by its allies must be increased by a factor. The current figure of $4 billion [per month] is around 30% of Ukraine’s economy [Gross National Product?]; I am talking about the current economy which, of course, has contracted since it lost some of its territories. That number could be elevated somewhat, but not by very much. There are certain economic limits.
For Russia, that number is significantly lower. We don’t know the exact numbers, but [military spending] would be somewhere around 10-12% of the economy. Therefore Russia can easily increase its percent of military spending, as it possesses much wider margins.
And Here Comes The Punchline
[32 minutes in] Therefore, if we were asked what is the very minimum amount of spending needed from the anti-Putin coalition, the anti-Putin allies should have been providing to the Ukraine military equipment, supplies and ammunition,and so on, valued at a minimum of $11 billion dollars per month. [Which, added to Ukraine’s own $4 billion to equal Russia’s $15 billion.]
And that is just the bare minimum, to ensure parity. That is the lower end of the scale. If we take the bigger estimate of $20 billion [on Russia’s side], then you can do the math to see how much more the coalition needs to spend on supplying Ukraine’s military needs. And that is not even considering that Russia shows signs of mobilizing, preparing for a long war, etc.
yalensis: And that is where I will end it, my friends, even though the conversation goes on for much longer. I think that Illarionov has made his point, what he considers to be a realistic commitment on the part of the “anti-Putin coalition” if they actually intend to win this war against Russia. Get the assembly lines rolling, get the money and weapons pouring in. Keep fighting until the very last Ukrainian is only barely left standing. Hey, it’s all worth it, right? If only to wipe that smug smile off of Putin’s face.