Can Russia even afford its new tough-guy image?

The New York Times had an excellent article yesterday: “As Putin Talks More Missiles and Might, Cost Tells Another Story.”

Here were some of the major highlights from the story:

  • “Everybody should understand that we are living in a totally different world than two years ago,” said Alexander M. Golts, an independent Russian military analyst. “In that world, which we lost, it was possible to organize your security with treaties, with mutual-trust measures,” he said. “Now we have come to an absolutely different situation, where the general way to ensure your security is military deterrence.”
  • Russia feels alone and besieged, a sentiment that continuously provides fresh inspiration to overhaul a military once better known for the drunk, ill-equipped conscripts who fared so badly during two wars in Chechnya in the 1990s.  “The Russian Army is returning to normal combat activities and training,” said Igor Korotchenko, the editor in chief of National Defense, a monthly Russian magazine. “We are doing exactly what our Western partners are doing.”
  • “Russia has been making aggressive statements, insisting that it lives in a world of mutual military deterrence, while thinking that the West will not pay attention,” Mr. Golts said. But the West paid attention, he said, and Russia is not ready. It is one thing to use a force of up to 100,000 well-trained, well-booted soldiers to seize Crimea or even to destabilize a neighbor, but it is a very different matter to take on NATO, he noted. Russia, lacking both the manpower and the weapons systems, will not be ready to do so any time soon, which is why Mr. Putin resorts to asymmetrical responses like nuclear weapons, analysts said.

The article goes on to discuss new tanks, whose orders have already been reduced. So, too, fighter jets, such as the T-50.

One thing the article didn’t discuss, which I thought it should, was a comparison of the two economies, America and Russia, side-by-side.

Here are those figures (from Wikipedia):

  • GDP: United States equals $17.4 trillion.
  • GDP: Russia equals $1.8 trillion.

And here are military expenditures (from Wikipedia):

  • U.S. $581 billion.
  • Russia $70 billion.
  • (Also worth noting that China’s is $129 billion.)

You can click either Wikipedia link above to compare other countries. For instance, one interesting thing is that I had no idea that the U.K. has a much larger GDP than Russia.

Yes, the U.K. Crazy, right?

Anyway, I continue to think Putin will bluster and talk loud and maybe do a few stupid things, but in the end, he has to know he can’t truly bully NATO and the United States. Not once he seriously forces the usually slow to act American people and Congress to act. Just ask the Germans and the Japanese.

Fact is, we typically arrive late to the party, but we bring the Suburban loaded with all our rich, drunk friends. And I don’t care who you are, you really don’t want us showing up to the party, because we’re going to wreck the place… : )

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and entrepreneur who spent nine years running a weekly newspaper that I started. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.


4 thoughts on “Can Russia even afford its new tough-guy image?

  1. Not surprising about the tanks and fighter jets. After all, this is the country that gave us the Potemkin Village.
    And Putin’s life won’t get easier with a GOP Prez in 2017.


  2. Great article Stan. That last paragraph was gold. LOL. Thanks for the laugh.


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