Samuel Bendett Profile picture
May 12 20 tweets 5 min read Read on X
1/ One of the more relevant relationships to watch in the coming months will be between the incoming Defense Minister Belousov, the re-appointed Prime Minister Mishustin, Deputy Prime Minister Chernyshenko and the Minister of Digital Development Shadaev. All four are...

2/ ...part of Russia's efforts to develop domestic high-tech ecosystem in the larger sense - Mishustin as a government bureaucrat with ICT background, Belousov as high-tech researcher at the Soviet and later Russian Academy of Sciences and a minister who promoted UAV/drone...
3/...RDT&E, and both Chernyshenko and Shadaev responsible for fast-tracking Russia's AI and digital developments. All four are civilians who had/still have a massive an uphill battle to implement the ICT and high-tech developments in the midst of war, sanctions, and...
4/...massively underdeveloped domestic high-tech sectors grown reliant on imported technologies. This does not mean that these four ministers will always see eye to eye - but with Putin seeking "innovation in the military" as one of the reasons for Shoigu's ouster... Image
5/... the fact that these four have similar backgrounds - coming up the government ranks as Russia's larger scientific and technical communities were switching from Soviet to Russian operational models - "may" make certain developments "easier."
6/ In the end, all four are part of the same Kremlin mission that does not change when it comes to the ongoing Ukraine invasion, along with import substitution and technological sovereignty drives - but the emphasis on Belousov as a civilian driving innovation will be key.
7/ Finally, their policies/results will continue to depend on the work of the larger government/Kremlin apparatus and resource allocations that are governed by many ministers who remain at their jobs, with own and larger agendas in tow.
8/ Its also important to point out that these four civilian ministers have more in common with each other than with the Russian MOD - which may or may not affect their progress as Putin will demand "innovation" from Belousov.
9/ This is the full chart of the new/re-appointed incoming government ministers, in Russian. Image
10/ It was pointed out to me that Shadaev is at odds with the MOD (point #8), and that Chernyshenko no longer controls the digitalization portfolio, which will be managed by Grygorenko - but the overall points about Belousov and other civilian gov ministers working on "innovation" still stand.
11/ An example of the difficulties that Belousov (and other ministers) will face with promoting domestic innovation - here he is telling Putin how much domestic UAV industry depends on imported technology - up to 95% in some cases.
12/ A few more points about "innovation in the MOD" - in the past 2.5 years of war, Russian military is emphasizing innovation in UAV/robotics, #AI as a decision-making/data analysis tool, and improvements in artillery/EW forces/technologies. At this point, Belousov...
13/...has an understanding of the larger picture that includes overall difficulties of launching domestic UAV sector practically from scratch (point #11), and understands an uphill battle facing the domestic high-tech sector in general. Described as a competent bureaucrat...
14/...who believes the importance of the military-industrial sector as a major driver of the overall Russian economy, Belousov's job in "opening up the MOD to innovation" will involve extensive cooperation with the civilian, non-military high-tech efforts, something that...
15/...was already emphasized by MOD officials and Chernyshenko since 2020, especially in #AI R&D. According to Russian commentary, Belousov's job will be to manage growing defense budgets, potentially streamlining certain efforts while maintaining spending in others. Yet...
16/...the real question is how open is the Russian MOD to innovation, considering that many innovative and rapid solutions in this war came not from within the MOD structures, but from the volunteer and start-up communities that are developing tech right at the front. And...
17/...many such efforts have openly complained about the inability of/lack of interest from the larger MOD in such solutions that can potentially have an impact in combat. Belousov, together with other ministers such as Denis Manturov who have an understanding of the...
18/ ...domestic R&D ecosystem, is tasked with "making the MOD absolutely open to innovation and to the introduction of advanced ideas" - but that effort today runs into a massive rock called Rostec, Russia's biggest defense-industrial conglomerate. Today, Rostec's positions...
19/ this new government are strengthened via appointment of ministers who are allies of the company. So Belusov, Mishustin, Grygorenko, Chernyshenko, Shadaev and Manturov (and others) have to contend with Rostec's needs and wishes alongside actually trying to innovate...
20/...while obviously paying attention to Rostec's needs, positions, investments and influence across the entire MOD. There is much more to consider - this thread centered on the "innovation" question that obviously depends on a myriad of other factors. So stay tuned.

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More from @sambendett

May 9
1/ QUICK TAKE on Putin's statements made today, on Mya 9, in a meeting with Russian military officers who are commanding units in Ukraine. Normally, I would do a quick thread about the annual Russian military parade in Moscow - but this year, there as nothing interesting there. Image
2/ Rather, this thread is about statements made AT a meeting with Putin. Colonel Malakhov, commander of the 24th Separate Guards Special Forces Brigade, said that Russian forces have been actively using FPV drones on the battlefield for more than a year. Image
3/ Responding to a question from one of the officers whether Russian defense sector can mass-produce combat UGVs, Putin said that yes, he considers it "possible to organize mass production of ground robotic platforms to equip assault units." Image
Read 12 tweets
May 3
1/ THREAD - Over the past several months, I was working on a public report on the latest Russian #AI developments - it is now published with @CNASdc. Do check it out! Below are main points and takeaways.…
2/ The report is meant as a summary of the latest developments through March 2024, and should serve as a reference document for anyone interested in major Russian thoughts and deliberations on #AI in the military domain. The data is based on public sources and major Russian...
3/ ...announcements and debates on what artificial intelligence should mean for the country's defense, security, military and civilian establishments. We caveat such statements as coming from official sources and should be treated as such.
Read 9 tweets
May 3
1/ QUICK TAKE on Russia's Courier light combat and logistics UGV. This is a self-initiated project headed by Boris Rozhin (Colonel Cassad on Telegram), and a basic Courier UGV platform costs around 1 million rubles, or $11K.…
2/ According to Rozhin: "With mass-scale production, further cost reduction is possible. Anything can be installed on it - from stretchers for the wounded and gratings/trays for transporting goods to EW systems, mines, machine guns, grenade launchers, ATGMs and AGS. The UGV is designed for a modular principle of use."Image
3/ Rozhin intends to take this UGV in combat "soon" after it was tried out in March. Back then - see this video - Ukrainian FPV drones hunted and destroyed these UGVs, but Rozhin wants more such combat platforms in battle.
Read 5 tweets
Apr 27
1/ QUICK TAKE on a Russian volunteer's analysis of where Russian "People's VPK (Defense-Industrial Complex)" is lagging behind Ukraine's civil society efforts to help the military. The translation is from a pro-Russian TG channel - usual caveats apply. Main points below.
2/ "We are not losing when it come to the quality of (our tech) solutions. Our inventors... are generally better than the enemy's. Not much better - the enemy’s are also quite good... but our side...has more engineering and creative talent."
3/ "We are lagging behind (Ukrainians) in the speed of scaling successful and proven solutions; in organizing mass-scale, simple and cheap replication of such solutions; in the mass scale and quality of personnel training for the proper use of this tech at the front..."
Read 19 tweets
Apr 23
1/ QUICK TAKE - Russia’s Dmitry Rogozin is commenting on the new Ukrainian “Baba Yaga” heavy drone development. Usual caveats apply, since it’s a former Russian government official. Quick translation in the posts below.
2/ “Over the past 24 hours, the enemy has deployed “silent” Baba Yaga attack drones. This is no longer a conversion of an agricultural drone into a combat one, but a separate type of heavy multirotor UAV with electric motors and a powerful battery to increase its range.”
3/ “This was predictable. Our fielding of experienced sniper pairs that shot down dozens of Baba Yagas noisily flying and heard from afar, should have led to the enemy upgrading and redeveloping its night unmanned bombers and their usage tactics.”
Read 6 tweets
Apr 23
1/ QUICK TAKE on the Russian perceptions of a Ukrainian advantage in FPV drones: “An analysis of battlefield shows that the enemy is many times superior to the Russian military in the FPV use. At the same time, the Ukrainians have an increased FPV range - up to 30 km - due to the installment of repeaters on hexacopters (“Baba Yaga”) and fixed-wing UAVs.”
2/ “In the Kherson region, the enemy drones prevent an effective assault on the village of Krynki, where active operations resumed the day before. Electronic warfare systems supplied to the Russian military are not always able to cope with frequencies.”
3/ “On the Zaporizhzhya Front, the Ukrainian Forces are also increasing the use of FPVs and control the Tokmak road with them. Dmitry Rogozin has written repeatedly about the FPV problem, as well as about new silent Ukrainian hexacopter-bombers.”
Read 10 tweets

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