The Russian military: what should we think now?
Western war planners and politicians have paid special attention to Russia’s military since the end of World War II. Soviet and now Russian capabilities have never ceased to be a concern. In fact, the Russian armed forces have now taken and dominated the main stage in the drama of human affairs headlines and drawing international condemnation for their bloody and callous invasion of Ukraine. Assessing the capabilities and performance of the Russian military has become a national pastime practiced by the mainstream everywhere media to the local cafe.
A skill that stands out
Russia spends 4.3% of its GDP on its military. The result is the fifth-largest standing army in the world, with just over 1 million active-duty troops and 2 million reserve troops. In support of the armed forces, Russia imposes a one-year conscription on all non-exempt male citizens. In the past, Russian men had to complete two-year tours. However, the official trip was cut short in part because of second-year draftees foggy First year draftees so brutal. Hazing practices known as dedovshchinahave been blamed for hundreds of deaths.
The Russian Armed Forces are divided into several branches: Ground Forces, Aerospace Forces, Navy, Strategic Missile Forces, Air Force and Special Forces. But the most notorious element of Russia’s armed capabilities is its vast nuclear stockpile. With an estimated 6,000 nuclear warheads, Russia has the world’s largest inventory of nuclear weapons. More than 1,500 Russian warheads are believed to be operational.
Notably, Russia’s stockpile has fallen sharply since the Soviet Union peaked at 45,000 warheads in 1986. In addition to a robust nuclear program, the Soviet Union—and perhaps Russia—operated the largest, most sophisticated, and longest-running biological weapons program in history. In spite of The signing of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention by the Soviet Union is well known having armed the following agents: anthrax, plague, tularemia, glanders, brucellosis, Q fever, VEE, botulinum toxin, staph, smallpox, marburg virus, and the orthopoxvirus.
A loss of prestige
The Russian ground forces operate an extensive fleet of tanks and equipment. Before invading Ukraine, Russia had 2,800 active battle tanks and another 16,500 in reserve; 5,160 infantry fighting vehicles (19,500 in reserve); 6,100 infantry fighting vehicles (18,000 in reserve); 150 towed artillery (12,415 in reserve); and several thousand small artillery and surface-to-air missile systems. Admittedly, Russia’s troop and equipment losses during the invasion of Ukraine were shocking and reduced the numbers above. Russia for example has lost about 1,500 tanks and 3,500 armored vehicles since the fighting began.
The Russian Aerospace Forces were formed in 2015 when the Russian Air Force and the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces merged. Russia has a proud history of aerospace design, and its modern air force is packed with capable airframes. Especially the fifth generation Su-57 (a CGI rendering of it only appeared in which top gun Sequel) is an ultra-maneuverable stealth fighter. Russia has only produced 10 Su-57s to date, but the airframe is an indication of the talent and technology within the Russian aerospace community. The bulk of the Russian Air Force consists of Sukhoi and MiG fighters, Tupolov bombers and Mil helicopters.
The Russian military underperformed during the invasion of Ukraine. Plagued by logistical and equipment problems, the losses were staggering. Accordingly, it has lost prestige and recognition. Yet while Russia has been humiliated in Ukraine, they still demand the respect of a nation sitting on top of the world biggest Stockpile of nuclear weapons.
Harrison Kass, Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. A lawyer, pilot, guitarist, and small-time pro hockey player, he enlisted in the US Air Force as a trainee pilot, but was discharged on medical paroles. Harrison holds degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon and NYU. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.