Russian soldiers issued fake bulletproof vests

If you are a Russian soldier, you cannot rely on your bulletproof vest for protection: it is highly likely that yours is inadequate, missing, or has decayed so much that it is a replica made for airsoft (paintball) games and does not provide any real bulletproofing.

In 2017, the Russian military proudly announced that it received 200,000 sets of advanced Ratnik-2 (“Warrior-2”) body armor, and that by 2020 deliveries would exceed 300,000 sets, enough for the entire army. Ratnik-2 is a modern design similar to Western body armor. The primary protective gear is a 6B45 vest with aramid soft armor (similar to Kevlar) that provides protection against low-velocity bullets and shrapnel, and granite ceramic plate inserts that stop high-velocity rifle bullets in vital areas. However, this is not the armor seen in Ukraine.

Soldiers from the Russian-backed LNR and DNR units are wearing the old 6B23 bulletproof vests that the Ratnik replaced, as the older version exposed the wearer to too much blunt trauma (leading to broken ribs and internal injuries). Soldiers from the 810th Independent Guards Brigade, mobilized from occupied Crimea, had it even worse, being issued old bulletproof vests with holes in them that they tried to repair with electrical tape.

“Where is the normal body armor with advanced protection?” one Crimean resident complained on the Telegram social media platform. “At least do something for those who are defending your lives!”

What happens to the protective gear the soldiers are supposed to receive? In 2021, a Russian sergeant was convicted of stealing at least 56 sets of bulletproof vests, which are easily sold on the Russian eBay competitor Avito. According to one report, it is common for new equipment to be sold online and for soldiers to be issued with second-hand uniforms and other gear. A year ago, a 6B45 protective vest was worth as much as $250 when sold online.

According to Britain’s Defence Intelligence Agency, some recruits are currently They are forced to buy their own bulletproof vests. However, the inevitable laws of supply and demand will drive up prices and make those same protective vests more affordable. It costs $640 online. This increases the incentive for anyone in the supply chain to steal.

The problem of theft and substitution also applies to granite plates. Ukrainian soldiers have been confused when captured bulletproof vests are fitted with cheap steel plates rather than high-tech ceramics. A photo posted on Twitter by the 95th Airborne Brigade in August showed a Ukrainian soldier Test these plates: An AK-74 bullet penetrates two stacked bullets.

Some militaries use steel inserts in their bulletproof vests because they are much cheaper than ceramic, but these are made from sturdy, high-quality steel. The Russian ones seem to be much thinner, and a Twitter video showed a Ukrainian soldier Fold in half contemptuously.

The plates may be makeshift substitutes because the real things were unavailable, or soldiers may have been told they were receiving real protection. The fake plates are as useless as the “corp cages” welded to the turrets of Russian tanks that were supposed to stop upward-firing weapons like the Javelin but proved ineffective.

Perhaps the worst case of fake armor is this week’s video. Russian soldiers complain about new ‘super bulletproof vests’ According to him, it’s an airsoft replica. A number of Russian companies produce them, offering perfect copies of the real Ratnik 6B45 at a fraction of the cost. It looks exactly the same, fits the same, and has the same attachments for ammo pouches and other gear. The big difference, as the manufacturer points out, is that “this vest is designed exclusively for airsoft, cosplay and collectors, and is not bulletproof.”

“Maybe they’re fighting with airsoft guns in Ukraine,” the soldier says sarcastically.

It’s obviously cheaper to provide the army with replicas than the real thing. What happened to the 300,000 bulletproof vests? The same question may arise about the 1.5 million military uniforms that Russian media recently reported as missing.

“I still can’t understand where the 1.5 million sets are. [of uniform]”Where did the guns that were stored in the personnel reception center go?” Lieutenant General Andrey Gurlev, a member of parliament from the Transbaikal region, told Novaya Gazeta. “Where did the guns go? Nowhere, and no one can explain to me!”

Most likely, such items only existed on paper, as invoices and inventory, and just weren’t there when they were needed, just like Russia’s thousands of combat-ready, state-of-the-art tanks were stored away.

The same problems that apply to bulletproof vests also affect the supply of night vision devices, communication equipment, and other military necessities that can be covertly sold on Avito – all of which are currently in short supply on the front lines. The 300,000 new conscripts that Putin is rushing to the front may be the world’s least equipped “modern” army.

There are also reports of a shortage of cold weather gear, so some may not survive long enough for bulletproof vests to become an issue.

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