When Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February, the world was shocked. But also shocking, including to Russian leaders themselves, was how difficult the invasion turned out to be.
Ukrainians came together and waged a courageous and effective resistance. Other countries contributed military aid. Another factor that has slowly come to light is the weakness of the Russian military.
On Twitter, Andrei V. Kozyrev, the foreign minister for Russia under Boris Yeltsin, said, “The Kremlin spent the last 20 years trying to modernize its military. Much of that budget was stolen and spent on mega-yachts in Cyprus. But as a military advisor you cannot report that to the President. So they reported lies to him instead. Potemkin military.”
As the war continues on and shows signs of escalation, worries are growing about the possibility that other countries could get more involved, including the US.
How does the U.S. military stack up to Russia’s?
|Spending||According to the most recent data available for each country, the US spent $738 billion on its military, which is equal to 3.42% of GDP.||As a share of their GDP, Russia spent more on their military (4.3%) but their economy is smaller so their military expenditure totaled $61.7 billion, just 8% of the US’ expenditure.|
|Troops||There are roughly 1.4 million active personnel and 850,000 reservists. Through Selective Service, there are 73,270,043 civilians that could be mobilized for combat.||Russia has a comparable number of active personnel (approximately 1.2 million), but they have 2 million reservists. They also have about half the number of civilians that could be mobilized for combat (35 million).|
|Land force ||The US has more armored fighting vehicles (41,237 v. 26,831) yet Russia has more equipment in the other major categories.||Tanks: 12,270 (100% more than the US)|
Artillery: 18,497 (335% more than the US)
Self-propelled artillery: 6,532 (335% more than the US)
Rocket-propelled artillery: 4,359 (220% more than the US)
|Air force||The US has a far larger air force than Russia (12,930 total aircraft v. 5,552).|
They also hold numerical superiority in several areas:
Multirole aircraft: 2,417 (190% more than Russia)
Helicopters: 4,741 (175% more than Russia)
Combat drones: 334 (1000% more than Russia)
|Although overall weaker than the US’, the Russian air force does have the advantage in a few areas.|
Fighter aircraft: 792 (70% more than the US)
Attack aircraft: 880 (55% more than the US)
|Navy||Although Russia has a larger navy, The US holds the advantage in arguably the most important areas. |
Aircraft carriers: 20 (Russia has 1).
Destroyers: 94 (400% more than Russia)
Submarines: 69 (17% more than Russia)
|Total size of naval fleet: 664 (44% larger than the US fleet)|
Frigates: 11 (the US has 0)
Corvettes: 83 (277% more than the US)
|Paramilitary||The US does not have paramilitary groups, as these are generally illegal according to international laws.||There are approximately 250,000 Russia-affiliated paramilitary. This includes the significant forces that have occupied eastern Ukraine and Crimea since 2014.|
The most important military capability to consider when thinking about any potential engagement between the US and Russia are nuclear weapons.
The US and Russia have long been the two major nuclear powers and this is still the case today. Between them, the two countries possess roughly 90% of the world’s nuclear warheads. It is hard to determine the exact sizes of either country’s arsenal, as this is highly sensitive information. But estimates put the countries’ arsenals at roughly the same size, around 6,000 warheads.
American soldiers are making contributions that go beyond being effective soldiers and leaders. America supports a free Ukraine, and thousands of American vets have gone to the frontlines of the battle to make that ideal a reality.