NATO and Russia: Weapons in Figures

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Appeared at Memoriabg, translated from Bulgarian by Valentina Tzoneva exclusively for SouthFront

The German daily, Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung, published statistics on weapons of NATO and Russia with reference to the meeting of the Alliance at the Summit in Warsaw.

Moscow feels threatened: at the NATO Summit in Warsaw this weekend, the talks will be mostly about the attitude of the Alliance towards Russia. Which one of the two military sides’ is superior? Who and where is arming more? A few facts before the summit:

  1. NATO obviously surpasses Russia militarily.

The official data for 2016 points that the Russian armed forces numbered 770,000 troops. If we added the National Guard and the Secret Armed Forces to these numbers, it brings the numbers to 1,000,000 troops supported by Russia. On the other side, right next to its borders, the neighbors of Russia have 150,000 troops. All 26 European state-members of NATO maintain an army of 2,000,000 altogether. The USA and Canada together have close to 1,400,000 troops. With this, the regular armed forces of NATO exceed the Russian army by four times.

NATO exceeds Russia in armaments: the American armed forces alone have 13,000 airplanes at their disposal, around 8,800 tanks and 41,000 armored units. To these 75 submarines, 19 aircraft carriers and more than 300 other types of warships are added.

The Americans are world leaders in military technologies. But at the direct border with Russia on the NATO side, things are different. For example, Latvia has three Russian-made tanks.

As per data from Russia, it has at its disposal 4,800 artillery and rocket launchers, 2,870 combat aircraft and 10,720 armored personnel carriers. As per the Global Firepower Index of 2015, the military air forces and other military units have at their disposal over 3,550 airplanes. The marine forces have at their disposal 200 warships and 72 submarines.

As much of the military equipment dates from the Soviet times, it is currently undergoing replacement with new ones, which will be 70% completed by 2020.

Russia increased its military expenses last year, according to data from the Institute of Research for Peace – SIPRI by 7.5%, which makes $66.4 billion. This, however, makes 11% of the American $596 billion in military expenses. In total, for the member states of NATO, the military expenses have decreased from $1077 billion in 2009 to $871 billion in 2015. Recently, this decrease is volatile as for example, the government of Germany intends to increase its military budget to Euro 39.2 billion in 2020.

  1. The Alliance sends troops to the east and Russia locates troops in NATO’s direction.

For the duration of the present year, Russia is planning to position two more divisions on its western border. The Minister of Defense, Sergei Shoigu, spoke about 10,000 troops and 2,000 vehicles. In Poland and the three Baltic states, NATO will position military units. After all, the number of the troops of the Alliance is less. For each country, 1,000 troops are allocated.

  1. NATO will support its eastern partners – Germany will be more engaged.

Russia’s support for the separatists in eastern Ukraine is the motive for NATO to launch, last year, the building of military formations for rapid response for multipurpose use. They will number 40,000 troops. Part of them, are the so-called ‘top of the spear’, which are capable of being deployed within days. By the way, for training purposes, military bases have been built in the eastern member-states of NATO – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. To this, we must add the greater number of patrolling flights over the Baltics.


Caption: Russian fighter jets flew over the aircraft carrier Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea on 10 and 12 April this year.

  1. Both sides expanded their military manoeuvers, but a military intervention from the side of Russia over the Baltic region is not expected.

Last year, Russia launched multiple military drills with tens of thousands of troops, without announcement. In February and March 2014, a military drill with 150,000 troops turned out to support the annexation of Crimea. In the eastern regions of NATO at present, more soldiers are participating than before the Ukrainian crisis. Thirty one thousand troops from 24 countries participated in the last military manoeuvers called ‘anaconda’, which took place in Poland.

But a Russian invasion in the Baltics is quite unlikely. According to the specialists, the Russian military forces need 60 hours at most to enter the Baltic capitals. Apart from that, attacking a region of NATO would be extremely risky – on one side, because the population of this country is hostile, and on the other side, because the military response of NATO won’t be delayed. Nothing suggests nowadays that Russia would take such a risk.

  1. The nuclear disarmament advances slowly.

America and Russia possess 93% of all the nuclear weapons in the world. Seven thousand American warheads counter 7,290 Russian warheads. The agreement signed in 2011 regarding the agreement for disarmament called ‘Start’ moves very slowly as per the Institute SIPRI. Both countries invest billions in the modernization of their nuclear arsenal. The USA alone, according to the Institute, will invest nearly $348 billion for the purpose up to 2024.

  1. NATO and Russia almost don’t talk to each other.

Conversations take place in a very limited cycle. The Council NATO-Russia – the most important institution for dialogue between the West and Moscow has been silent for two years now, up to April but the meeting in April did not bring anything meaningful.

“Moscow expressed its agreement for a meeting of the Council Russia-NATO after the conference of the Alliance in Warsaw on the 8th and the 9th of July. The decision was announced after a dialogue between the French Foreign Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, and the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, in Paris on the 29th of June.”

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Zuzana Rehakova

within the first 15 minutes of a war against RUssia all european NATO will be a radioactive dust. Within 30 minutes USA and Canaa will be a radioactive dust. The number of soldiers does not count. After turning the Earth into radioactive dust, there will be no reason to quantify any army, as we all shall die. The planet will not be habitalbe for 4.5*10^14 years., 100 times longer, then the age of the sun and earth. Very funny article.

Random guy

yes, and so will Russia.


No. Just ask the people living in Hiroshima and Nagasaki today, less than 80 years since nukes exploded there. Bombs are not like power plants.

The number of soldiers does not really count in any scenario, there I agree. A handful of well-trained professionals will wipe the floor with a division of badly trained amateurs.

Real Anti-Racist Action

Incorrect. It is likely that both sides do not mind fighting over Eastern Europe without Nukes. Russia going into France is a different story. If NATO looses Lithuania, they will not cry. If Russia loose their bout into Latvia, they will not cry. Chances are a short war could be fought in eastern Europe without any nukes going off.

Curtis Waters

Are you familiar with the term “mutually assured destruction”? You are dead wrong in your assumption that nuclear war would be the first option.


Pointless, biased article. You have to question anyone talking about “annexation” of Crimea. Look how DPR’s 40,000 troops are holding off ukraine’s 200,000 for so long- strength isn’t just about sheer numbers. Troop numbers will mean little anyway with the TOS wiping out whole encampments, and the Iskanders making bases into craters. This piece did not bother to mention how Russia has superb air defenses (S300, S350, S400, S500, BUK, TOR, Pantsir, Tunguska, Strela, and Igla- each with excellent capabilities) , and the West has nothing that works basically (the junk Patriots, THAAD, GMD, and Stingers- look up their history!). That alone will make all the difference. Russia also has much better jets, helicopters, tanks, and other equipment. Comparing military budgets is also a common way to skew reality. Due to corporate profit margins, most all american weapons systems cost much more than Russian ones. A good example is the F35 costing 104 million apiece (and it barely works), while the far superior Su35 costs 43 mill- so Russia gets twice the jets for the same amount of money. That is if they are buying only their fanciest ones- other types are much cheaper. The much vaunted american navy is expected to float for 3 days by several analysts if there is a war. Russia and China have lots of attack subs and mine laying ships, as well as the Dong Feng and Brahmos/Yahkont missiles. This is all aside from the fact that Russians will fight to the last man, and likely take the war to american soil. Everyone should look up a documentary made by the american govt. called “Why We Fight: the Battle of Russia”, than think really hard about whether they want to fight these people or not.

rob andy

then you have NATO , who has well more jets then russia combine, its not just the americans , its the entire world, wich you clearly assume, russia will loose hands down, 1.4m troops just with canada and US alone imagine the other countries lol, russia cannot win., they will never win, the world out numbers them and china too.

Toby D

Russia is losing a war to Ukraine. Pretending it’s a civil war when there are more T72B3’s in Donestsk than eastern Europe owns tanks, lying about the invasion sounds very silly.

Russia has an economy the size of Italy (and about to be beaten into 13th place by Australia) a defence budget only slightly higher than Frances and at least a decade lag behind the west in technology. You can’t even make a decent stealth fighter* (which the US have been doing for 30 years) while the UK is debuting Rail and laser weapons and the US churns out superb 5th generation fighters and super carriers. Claiming you have any kind of superiority in any technical field other than paying people to lie on the internet is laughable.

And how is it, in your RT flavoured fantasy world that you’ve managed to beat the world in a technology race when you defunded your military research for a decade following the collapse of the soviet enslavement? You do know it’s taken you this long just to build it back up to slightly higher than the UK’s, right? And you expect us to believe you’ve secretly got super tanks and planes?

*the Pak-Fa has a worse stealth aspect / bigger radar picture than a 1980’s F-117 Nighthawk and the Indians are dumping it because it can’t out maneuver an F-16. What were you saying about imaginary technological advantages komrade katsap?

Toby D

Oh and on what planet does a recycled 1970’s airframe beat an F-35? Sure the Su-35 has had 3D thrust vectoring added. It’s still a re-hashed 1970’s air frame. It’s almost as big a joke as the Pak-Fa. Not to mention the yanks alone have nearly twice the number of subs you do before you look at the European Navies, all of whom have modern state of the art submarines while 3/4 of the Russian fleet are rusting cold war relics.

mike hogan

LOL……………..Your assumptions are ridiculous,as we see Russia’s MANY weaknesse being exposed.An out manned group of men and women threw Russia out of how many cities. Their navy was exposed by 2 missiles hitting their “star” ship. The U.S. have recent wars in the Mideast and Afghanistan,lots of experience,our Special Forces second to none.Their soldiers don’t have gas or food and are happy to be taken prisoners as most did’nt realize they were going to war. This isn’t the old Russian military. They are now 60 and 80 years old. Nukes aside, Russian would be overwhelmed by the U.S. and Nato capabilities. Putin has a death wish,hope someone hastens it. Parents watching the body bags coming home likely feel the same way.

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