War Machine – Structure and Faces of the Russian Military and Industrial Complex

War Machine

Structure and Faces of the
Russian Military and Industrial Complex

Roman Steblivskyi, Trap Aggressor analyst

Читати українською.

Sanctions have not yet been imposed on the majority of directors of companies of the Russian military and industrial complex. Trap Aggressor has collected information about the structure of ownership and management of these enterprises.

According to the International OSINT-Group Oryx, as of the middle of July, Russians had lost in Ukraine 4692 items of military equipment, in particular 1237 trucks and jeeps, 950 combat infantry vehicles, 865 tanks, etc. Despite optimistic statements of some experts that Russia started shutting down defense factories due to the lack of Western componential parts and using obsolete equipment, the war has been underway for the fifth month in a row. By numerous predictions, the war will not be over by the end of the year or even later. Trap Aggressor analysts have identified companies involved in producing Russian military equipment, the destroying or capturing of which has been documented within the Oryx project.

52 out of 67 directors of these companies are not under sanctions of Ukraine, Canada, USA and/or EU.

For example, the director of the tank concern Uralvagonzavod, Alexander Potapov, concern of air and space defense Almaz-Antey, Yan Novikov, concern Vertolyoty Rosii, Nikolay Kolesov, concern Kalashnikov, Vladimir Lepin, United Machine-Building Group, Dmitriy Strezhnyev, etc. A full list of directors of companies producing military equipment in Russia which was destroyed in Ukraine, and their presence on the sanctions lists can be found by the following link.

Structure of the War Machine

According to the official data published by the Russian government, the military and industrial complex of Russia comprises 1355 companies which employ around 2 million people. We have determined 69 companies directly related to the military equipment destroyed in Ukraine. We focused on those manufactures which are final producers of such equipment or run such companies. However, one needs to understand that hundreds of other enterprises which are not on this list are also involved in producing spare parts, ammunition, logistics, repair or production of other types of military hardware.

The producers are managed by larger holdings, the lion’s share of which belongs to the state Rostekh corporation, which is the managing center of the Russian military and industrial complex. Decisions to transfer control over state companies to Rostekh are signed personally by Vladimir Putin. Since the foundation of Rostekh in 2007, the company has been run by his friend Sergey Chemezov, who is also a member of the United Russia party bureau. The largest Rostekh holdings handle separate directions such as tank production (Uralvagonzavod concern), helicopter production (Vertolyoty Rosii), aircraft (United Aircraft Corporation), missiles (High-Precision Complexes), electronics (Tekhmash and Radioelectronic Technologies) and so on. At the same time, the holdings include dozens of separate joint-stock companies. For example, Vertolyoty Rosii helicopter maker includes around 50 companies, and Uralvagonzavod tank producer includes around 30 companies.

Rostekh also owns a separate RT-Kapital company which runs non-profile assets and “rehabilitates” bankrupt companies by boosting financial government investments. This “cover” is used by Motovilikha Plants which runs the Special Design Bureau developing Nona SVK and Hosta artillery systems, and also maintains Grad and Tornado self-propelled launching systems.

The Russian government manages the air defense Almaz-Antey concern through the Federal State Property Management Agency. However, the director of Rostekh, Sergey Chemezov, regularly comments on activities of the concern. So the influence of Rostekh can be tracked down here too.

The Tochka-U complexes, the use of which Russian propagandists denied after the killing of peaceful local residents at the railway station in Kramatorsk, are modernized under the control of the government. According to Russian mass media, the Votkinsk Machine-Building Plant which produces ammo for the Tochka-U complex belongs to the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology which, in turn, belongs to the state Roskosmos company.

In addition to their direct function to produce weapons, defense or, to be more specific, militaristic factories also play the role of cultural and social centers in residential areas they are located in. For this reason, in 2016, Vladimir Putin ordered the launch of a process of diversification of defense factories which were planned to produce 50% of civil produce by 2030 in order to reinforce dependence of different spheres of the economy from the state apparatus.

For example, enterprises of the concern Almaz-Antey which produces cruise missiles, air defense systems and air missile complexes, have started producing water and gas meters. So, one hand of the concern makes Kalibr missiles the Russian army has been killing Ukrainian citizens and demolishing towns and cities with for five months in a row, and the other hand makes devices to improve everyday life of ordinary Russians. Similarly, one and the same producer of the highly technological producer Tekhnodinamika makes heavy flamethrowers – terrible weapons in the battlefield – and refrigerators Pozis sold through internet-stores.

In addition to state shareholders, military plants are owned by individuals who, despite formally another form of ownership, are highly unlikely to be called independent from the state. For example, the Russian businessman Dmitriy Strezhnev, who, in 2021, according to the Russian Forbes, was one of 200 the richest people in Russia, probably, through the Cypriote firm Midstream Group Limited owns the United Machine-Building Group, which includes the Ural Automotive Plant and Zavolzhsky Caterpillar Tractor Plant. Trucks and jeeps made at the Ural plant and GAS Aleut armored vehicles made at the Zavolzhsky Caterpillar Tractor Plant have been destroyed by the Armed Forces of Ukraine on numerous occasions. The links of Mr. Sterzhnev with the Russian authorities are obvious as Mr. Putin decorated him as an honored chemist. Also, since his student years, he is a friend of the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. In 2020, after being imposed American sanctions, Mr. Deripaska sold to Mr. Sterzhnev shares of several defense companies, in particular the mentioned above Ural Automotive Plant and Zavolzhsky Caterpillar Tractor Plant.

According to the mass media, Mr. Deripaska still owns the Military and Industrial Group which runs the Arzamas Machine-Building Plant and GAS Group. These enterprises make armored vehicles GAS Tiger, GAS Tiger-M and BREM-K the Russian army is using in the war against Ukraine. In 2020, the United States said that Mr. Deripaska was laundering money during preparation for the Olympics held in Sochi.

Unmanned aerial vehicles, without which a modern war cannot be imagined, are also produced by private companies on order of the Russian army. The Eleron unmanned aerial vehicle is designed at Oniz factory, and Orlan unmanned aerial vehicle is designed at the Special Technological Center. We have failed to identify mother companies of the both enterprises, unlike the Takhion unmanned aerial vehicle produced by the Izhevsk Unmanned Systems of PC-Leasing Joint-Stock Company.

The Russian defense industry also relies on Rusbitekh, a private producer of informational technologies, known for Astra Linux operating system developed for the Russian army and Rostekh for ‘import replacement’ of Western operational systems following the sanctions imposed in Russia.

Both state and private shares of the Russian military and industrial complex boast of their Soviet background. Websites and social media of factories are filled with stories about the heroic role of these enterprises in the “Great Patriotic War,” interviews with war veterans and news of youth organizations preparing another concert, race or coven on May 9. These companies demonstrate the same passion supporting the war in Ukraine.

The Russian army is still using Russia-made military equipment as well as weapons made in the Soviet Union to fight. At the same time, some types of weaponry, for example, the majority of artillery, have never been designed in Russia, which has been opening Soviet military storages.


The Russian army is still using Russia-made military equipment as well as weapons made in the Soviet Union to fight. At the same time, some types of weaponry, for example, the majority of artillery, have never been designed in Russia, which has been opening Soviet military storages. However, military factories continue maintaining and repairing this Soviet equipment which finds its way to the territory of Ukraine. Due to its numbers, the Russian army is sowing Ukrainian fields with metal, which is welcome by ordinary Russians. At the same time, many company directors and companies being beyond international sanctions enables them to avoid responsibility for their participation in the war against Ukraine. It means that the victory of Ukraine in this war will depend on stopping the Russian military factories, freezing chains of imports, and reducing the economic potential of Russia.

  1. Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Russia into Ukraine, the International OSINT-Group Oryx has been collecting photos/video of the military equipment destroyed or captured by the Ukrainian Army, identifying its types, in particular categorizing its Russian or Soviet origin/production. For this reason, we have used this database to identity Russian plants which make certain types of military equipment documented in Ukraine. In some cases, we decided to add to the Oryx database our infographics, for example, missile complexes Iskander, Kalibr, Tochka-U or Soviet self-propelled launcher Grad, considering their frequent use in the war.
  2. It is worth noting that much information, in particular information about company shareholders and owners of defense companies, is classified. For this reason, we have been searching for information about the structure of the defense industry in open sources. Russian media write about replacement of owners of plants, and create registers of company owners which are not regularly renewed. Due to this, the management structure may have some inaccuracies.
  3. This structure does not comprise all the military and industrial complex of Russia which is made of more than 1300 enterprises.

This research has been made by a group of Trap Aggressor analysts representing the analytical StateWatch center within the program of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) “Support of Regional Ukrainian Media During the War” with financial support of the European Union and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway. It is Trap Aggressor which is responsible for the content of this research which does not reflect views of the European Union, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway or IWPR.

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