"Russia Wouldn't Stand a Chance in a War with the West". Why?
UK citizen here - I was listening to BBC radio (which I usually trust), and they were interviewing Richard Kemp, a retired British Army officer who commanded the British forces in Afghanistan.
He was talking with some authority about the current geo-politiking that's going on, and said, almost off-handedly, that Russia ultimately want to avoid a war [with the US] that they have no hope of winning.
It was said so matter-of-factually that it caught me off guard. I seem to have developed a belief that Russia, a superpower, pose a significant military threat to not only the US, but the combined "West". However, upon looking further, the US's defence budget of $600BN is ten times Russia's, which is roughly equivalent with the UK's ($50-60BN).
Is this the prime reason for Kemp's statement? Why would Russia, a superpower, stand "no chance"? Would a war with Russia really be that one-sided?
I'm curious as to your thoughts on this.
I should have qualified the statement a bit better. He should have said, "Russia have no chance of winning a conventional, non-nuclear, war against the West". In that, he is correct, they would lose, which is why they will not start one. Even if the US did not involve itself, and it was Russia vs Western Europe, my money would be on Western Europe.
Russian conventional forces are not at the level that they were at at the time of the cold war, their fleet is a collection of poorly maintained vessels, which limits their expeditionary capability to locations they can reach over land or by air (over friendly or neutral nations). Their military is smaller than it was, mostly conscript based, and is shrinking due to the demographic issues that Russia currently suffers from. In a stand up fight with a numerically equivalent Western force from, say, France, the UK, or the US, I don't see how they could possibly win.
Russia has geopolitical aims which essentially boil down to annexing or dominating the nations of the former Soviet Union. In places like the Baltic and the Ukraine, the tactics have been what "Yes, Minister" once called "salami tactics" - take a slice of a country here, a slice there, but never formally declare war, and always paint yourself as a victim defending the interests of Russian ethnics in the target nations.
Depends on the direction of the fighting. If Western Europe counter attacks they better do it hard, fast, and starting in like March.
Honestly, it comes down to 3 things. and I'm going to extremes here right? Lets ignore allies for a bit. 1: Population Size 2: Army Power and Army Skill 3: Nukes
To expand on point 1, The United States has a much larger population than Russia...surprisingly. The United States has more than double the population so double the "theoretical army". Of course this is speculation as not everyone will actively fight, however if we look at currently active members of the military alone, the U.S is once again....double that of Russia. In a quote (which is now under fire for being inaccurate as far as the comparison goes) "1 German Tiger tank is worth that of 4 Sherman...but the Americans always had 5." Sure the quote might be under fire but i think its actually pretty funny.
Now for point 2, the U.S has the military might. When it comes to technological advancements Russia is no competitor for the United States... FOR A WAR BETWEEN THE 2. That's an important note. To explain, in Aircraft's alone the U.S has more than triple Russia's amount. This includes planes to helicopters. In Subs, we are actually quite even in number surprisingly. However, in Tanks and land warfare vehicles, Russia doubles that of the U.S. This makes sense of course for a country surrounded by countries that neighbor in land. This is why its important to note in a war between the two would likely end in the U.S favor unless the Russians depended on home turf guerrilla warfare. Then it boils down to can the Americans make it to the shores with their aircraft's and equipment which at that point i believe would just need to create a single foothold to begin winning, or simply not engage as they know a war anywhere outside of Russia's borders will most likely go easily in their favor and be much less of a issue.
Now we hit #3. Nukes. This is an argument i rather dislike simply because its quite literally the nuclear option. To me this argument comes out to "nope nukes that's it argument/debate is over go home". The issue with Nukes though, is that they are actually real, and they makes my previous two points useless...hypothetically. Unless we can shoot the nukes out of the sky which i don't believe we have the technology to do so, at least not safely, it becomes a game of chicken. If Russia or the U.S is losing, it boils down to whether or not (at this point in time) Trump, or (at probably all points in time) Putin will be salty/desperate enough to say "I might lose but I'm not going to be the only one who loses" and launches it. This idea however, although just speculation isn't even solid. Because the moment one of them goes doomsday, the other will surly retaliate. This will go from a lost war to "These countries kind of don't even exist anymore". So i doubt it will escalate that far to begin with. Most people assume "Even if they lose they will just fire the nuke" when in reality firing the Nuke goes from just losing to not existing.
In a war between the two, I believe the U.S has it. When we include allies, I still believe it goes to the U.S Because although Russia has china, it now has to deal with one of the best if not the best naval force in the world, the United States over bearing air force (which can now safely be placed across the oceans giving the U.S the foothold i was referring to earlier) and the land vehicles of the Germans, all at the same time destroying Russia's main advantage of keeping the U.S an ocean away and forcing them to figure out away to safely sail/fly onto Russia's land.
They wouldn't be able to fly safely anywhere near Russia with their advanced AA systems and anti-ship missiles.