The Russian military has been using the events in Ukraine to flex its new military technology, demonstrating to Ukrainians, and most importantly, the West, what the capabilities are of the Russian military. The Russian military has sought to greatly increase its technology to make it a more competitive force, and based on the new weapons and gear that are on display, they have been successful. If an attack on Kiev were to occur, the Russian military would have a significant advantage over the Ukrainian military, whose technology shies in comparison.
Elite Russian troops are displaying a new arsenal of body armor, individual weapons, armor-piercing ammunition and collar radios — a menu of essential gear that gives them a big tactical advantage against a lesser-equipped Ukrainian army.
If President Vladimir Putin orders an invasion, the new-generation body armor, in particular, would provide exceptional protection against small arms if Russian troops go street by street to capture Kiev and other cities.
“What we saw and what was dangled in front of the West was a clear indication that Putin is on a roll,” retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales said. “It just seems to me from watching the films that their arrows are pointing up and ours are sadly pointing down.”
Weapons specialists such as Gen. Scales have been studying images of Spetsnaz, Russia’s ubiquitous special forces, and airborne troops since they conquered the Crimea region and mobilized to strike eastern Ukraine.
What they see are the fruits of a modernization plan begun in 2008, not just in tanks and vehicles but all the way down to the individual warrior. Russia now has the world’s third-highest defense budget, at over $70 billion.
“They’ve got better equipment than they had five years ago,” said Scott Traudt, an executive with Green Mountain, a Vermont gun manufacturer. “They’ve got new grenade launchers that are awesome. The helmets are better than our helmets. The body armor is better than our body armor. They’re doing a lot of things right. I’m pretty amazed at it.”
Mr. Traudt is paying special attention to the body armor because it presents a big challenge to rifle and munition makers. It might be able to deflect NATO’s basic 5.56 mm rifle round. If so, Ukrainian soldiers face a daunting task because their AK-74 assault rifles fire a similar munition.
The Russians, in their new 6B43 model body armor, issued chest and back plates made of titanium and hard carbide boron ceramics.