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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