Whether Russia can become a military threat to NATO?

Может ли Россия представлять военную угрозу для НАТО?

The original on the website of The National Interest

How serious a threat to NATO and the United States is being created in Russia, the fighter invisible fifth generation, its nuclear Arsenal, modern air defenses, anti-satellite weapons, ground troops and submarine fleet?

The growing tension between Russia and NATO have led many experts to carefully analyze the issue and examine the current state of military equipment, weapons and level of technology in the Russian armed forces, in order to better understand the scale and nature of potential threats.

Naturally, the Russian military exercises and the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula has forced many analysts from the Pentagon to seek answers to these questions and to evaluate the current pace of modernization of the Russian army, and also to investigate the state of forces and means, types, and weapons of his former powerful enemy in the cold war.

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Russia clearly wants to show that she is able to create a counterweight to NATO and to keep the military Alliance. However, the studies of the Russian armed forces at the present stage indicate that it is unlikely to be able to throw a real challenge to the North Atlantic Alliance in the course of long and arduous military action.

Nevertheless, Russia continues to seek success in the military, and many experts and analysts from the Pentagon expressed concern about the status of NATO forces in Eastern Europe, doubting that they will be enough to deter and prevent the Russian invasion of Eastern European countries.

Along with this, the economic difficulties of Russia have not weakened her resolve to carry out military modernisation at a rapid pace and to increase the military budget, despite the fact that today’s armed forces are a pale shadow of what possessed the Soviet Union at the height of the cold war in the 1980-ies.

The size of the territory and external borders of this giant decreased significantly since the cold war of the 1980-ies, and Russian non-nuclear land, air and sea forces try to quickly increase your potential to move into high-tech information age, and in this regard persistently create military equipment of new generation.

The Russian Arsenal of nuclear and conventional weapons it is only a small part of what had the Soviet Union during the cold war. However, Russia is working on creating a new class of submarines with airindependent power plant, a stealth fighter T-50, a new generation of missiles and individual weapons for soldiers on the battlefield with the latest technology.

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Analytical center for The National Interest (The National Interest is a journal on foreign policy, published by the Center for the national interest (Center for the National Interest), previously known as the Nixon center — approx. ed.) recently published a series of articles about today’s technological achievements of the creators of Russian military equipment. Among them are reports of a new anti-satellite weapons on the tank T-14 “Armata”, on air on the preliminary plans for the creation of the sixth generation fighter and other developments. Russia unequivocally speaks about the importance of military modernization and seeking in this significant success, according to the materials of The National Interest and other publications.

For example, The National Interest reports that Russia may have recently produce a successful launch of anti-satellite intercept launch directly into “Nudol”.

“This is the second test of a missile capable of destroying satellites in space. It is likely that the launch was carried out from the Plesetsk cosmodrome, which is located to the North of Moscow”, — said the author of the article in The National Interest.

In addition, Dave Majumdar The National Interest reports that the Russian airborne troops in the near future (in the second half of 2016) will form the six tank companies, which will be equipped with modernized tanks T-72Б3М. In the next two years based on them will be created battalions.

Russia is also developing a combat vehicle tank support “Terminator-3”.

During the cold war, the Russian military budget accounted for nearly half of the total expenditures of the country.

Today, defense spending in Russia the percentage is much smaller. But despite the huge difference in military appropriations, the defense budget increased again. According to Business Insider, between 2006 and 2009 it increased from 25 to 50 billion dollars, and in 2013 amounted to 90 billion.

In General, the number of Russian armed forces during the cold war was about five times more than today.

In 2013, in active military service in the Russian army was 766 thousand people, and another 2.4 million were in the reserve, as reported by the portal globalfirepower.com. During the cold war the number of Russian armed forces was equal to three to four million people.

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According to the same estimates for 2013, in Russia at that time had more than 3,000 aircraft and 973 helicopters. According to Globalfirepower.com on earth Russia had 15 thousand tanks, 27 thousand armored combat vehicles and nearly six thousand self-propelled guns. Although the strength of the Russian army is much smaller than during the cold war, Moscow is making serious efforts to upgrade and maintain combat readiness in armored systems and platforms. Thus, the Russian T-72 tank since the creation of the first samples in the 1970-ies has upgraded many times.

As for the Navy, estimated Globalfirepower.com in its composition has 352 ships, including one aircraft carrier, 13 destroyers and 63 submarines. The black sea is strategically important for Russia region in economic and geopolitical point of view, because this is the gate in the Mediterranean.

Analysts also noted that for the Russian army in the 1980s, the years produced a huge number of conventional and nuclear weapons, starting with unguided missiles, cruise missiles, and ending with the effective anti-aircraft missile systems.

According to experts, the Russian anti-aircraft missile systems s-300 and s-400 are extremely effective if they are appropriately maintained and upgraded.

Referring to reports in Russian media, the National Interest reported that the Russians are currently conducting trials of a new air defense system s-500, which can hit targets up to 200 kilometers.

In the air from Russia are fighter jets 1980-ies of the su-27 used on a variety of strategic directions.

This aircraft is often compared to the American F-15 Eagle. The su-27 is maneuverable twin-engine fighter, developed in the 1980-ies and intended mainly for superiority in the air.

War game RAND

Many experts claim that the number of troops, firepower, air superiority and modern technology, NATO will enable it to prevail in large-scale hostilities against Russia. But this does not negate the findings of the survey research center RAND, published this year. According to them, in the case of the invasion of Russia in the Baltic States NATO would be in a very difficult position.

The organizational structure of the armed forces of NATO in Eastern Europe will allow you to survive in case of in case of military attack of Russia to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, concludes RAND.

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After a series of extensive war games in which the “Reds” (Russian) and blue (NATO) conducted operations in the Baltic States under different scenarios, and RAND in its study entitled “Strengthening deterrence on NATO’s Eastern flank” noted that for a successful defense of this region, NATO requires a much larger ground-air group than the one that is deployed there currently.

In particular, the authors of the study call for the development of NATO strategy, similar to the doctrine of air-land battle during the cold war. In 1980-e years in Europe, placed the land forces of the United States number at least several hundred thousand troops. This was done in the framework of the strategy of deterrence potential of the Russian invasion. Official representatives of the U.S. army in Europe told Scout Warrior that is currently on the continent is 30 thousand American soldiers from the army.

In the RAND analysis notes that without the presence in Eastern Europe NATO deterrent force in the amount of seven teams needed firepower and air support Russia will be able to capture the Baltic countries in just 60 hours.

“In its current state, NATO cannot successfully defend the territory of their most vulnerable members. In numerous war games with the participation of a wide range of military and civilian experts from both sides it became clear that Russian troops will come to the outskirts of the Estonian and Latvian capitals of Tallinn and Riga for 60 hours max. After such a rapid defeat of NATO will be very little options,” write the authors of the study.

The doctrine of air-land battle was a strategic concept of warfare followed by the US and its NATO allies during the cold war. Among other things, it provided for a close and precise interaction between large maneuvering mechanized units of land forces and attack aircraft cover. In the framework of this concept the aircraft during air attacks had harassed the enemy troops on the front lines, weakened the strength and support tools and collateral, and struck at objects in the enemy rear. Thanks to this air-ground interaction, a large force of ground troops could then easily break the zone defense.

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In the case of a rapid attack on the Baltic countries have a choice of NATO will be poor, and among the possible options will remain risky large-scale counter-offensive, creating the threat of use of nuclear weapons. Otherwise, we’ll just have to accept the Russian annexation of those States.

One of the options outlined in the study provides a long mobilization and deployment of large forces and means to conduct large-scale counter-offensive that could lead to prolonged combat actions with heavy losses. Another option is to threaten the adversary with nuclear weapons, although such a scenario is unlikely, if not unrealistic given the American strategy of reducing nuclear arsenals, and calls for renunciation of the use of such weapons.

The third and last variant mentioned in the analysis is simply to admit defeat NATO in the Baltic to give Russia the Baltic countries and to engage in a much more intense cold war. Naturally, many residents of these States will oppose such a prospect that undoubtedly would weaken and even partially split the Alliance.

In the study based on the war game conclusions are made about the measures necessary for effective and credible deterrence.

It says: “the game shows that to prevent a quick capture of the Baltic countries will be enough groups consisting of seven brigades, three tank brigades, aviation support, ground-based firepower and other forces ensuring high readiness, able to fight from the beginning.”

Having studied in the course of the game many different scenarios, the participants came to the conclusion that in the absence of large-scale mechanized defensive forces of resistance, NATO will be quickly broken.

“Lack of air defense short range in the American units and a minimum of defensive forces and means in units of other NATO countries means that in many cases, this attack will resist only forces combat air patrol of NATO in the conditions of huge numerical superiority of the enemy. As a result, some battalions of “blue” will suffer heavy losses and the offensive will be broken”, — stated in the study.

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia may become subject to Russian attack because they are close to Russia, and for many years was part of the Soviet Union, say the authors.

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“As in Ukraine, in Estonia and Latvia there are a significant number of Russian, who at best were unevenly integrated into the political and social system in these countries after independence. This gives Russia a pretext and excuse to interfere in Estonian and Latvian case”, reads the analysis.

RAND argues that the increase in the number of teams is highly advisable, despite the large cost of maintaining them.

The creation of three new armored brigade combat groups and their inclusion in the US army’s cost is not very expensive. The full cost of military equipment the brigade and supporting artillery, air defense and support units will be about $ 13 billion. However, much of this equipment in the first place of expensive tanks “Abrams” and infantry fighting vehicles “Bradley”, already available, experts say.

The question about the number of NATO troops in Eastern Europe is still under discussion, and under the new administration there are various changes. But NATO and the United States for quite a long time thinking about the increase in the group on the Eastern flank to deter Russia.

But while the Pentagon Initiative on European security provides for the allocation of additional forces and means, as well as rotation of troops in Europe, it is unclear what the result will be a building force.

Under this initiative, the Pentagon has applied for the allocation of $ 3.4 billion, and plans to increase the number of troops in Europe, as well as the amount of firepower, and technology at the advanced warehouse and “staff support” to NATO forces.

Official representatives of the American troops in Europe have noted that in the future the planned new doctrine of solidarity with NATO allies, and that the number of personnel may further increase.

For example, from 27 may to 26 June this year, NATO conducted in Poland and Germany, exercise “Quick response”, which was attended by over five thousand troops from the U.S., Belgium, France, Germany, great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain.

Chris Osborne

The Independent

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