When the Russians invaded Ukraine, Vladimir Putin probably believed in a quick victory. It was a fantasy. So how strong is the Russian army really?
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia did its best to maintain its superpower status, including its status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Although the country’s gross domestic product did not give it a prominent position among nations, the Soviet Union could not keep up with many Western countries economically.
The Kremlin has always justified its claims of military power. For decades, the country has one of the largest and most powerful militaries in the world, and was even said to be armed with nuclear weapons. A constant reminder that President Vladimir Putin regularly provided the world with images of fully choreographed military parades in Moscow and campaigns by his troops.
But how strong an army actually is shown in the trenches on the battlefield, not in its pace on Red Square. And there the Russians are humiliated in eastern Ukraine by a much smaller army that didn’t even exist a few years ago.
How big is Putin’s army really?
Theoretically, The Russian army has a million soldiers, According to Margarete Klein of the German Institute for International Security Studies (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik), in the future there will be as many as 1.1 million. But the actual size is smaller, he explains to his DW.
Most of the active Russian military units are already deployed in Ukraine. “They took a heavy toll with soldiers killed or wounded,” defense experts say. There are no exact figures, but the US Secret Service CIS believes there are tens of thousands of dead and wounded in Russia.
Until now, regiments stationed in Russia’s Asian region in peacetime have suffered, says George Barros of the Institute for War Studies, a US-based think tank. The idea that Russia has a reserve of soldiers ready for action has nothing to do with reality, he assured DW.
According to Barros, the course of the war so far shows that the world has long overestimated the strength of the Russian military.
Klein explains that Russia must now call in reservists to fill the gap created due to losses. , was to maintain the current front line.
No training or equipment before
The state of Russia’s military strength is indicated by those who are currently conscripted. “We have men over the age of 50 who have health problems,” the defense expert says.
Reservists must be trained and equipped before they go to war, Barros said. But often he is not enough for 1-2 months of training. Some are sent to the front lines of Russia without training or equipment, he said, and it is hard to believe that such reservists can achieve military success.
The number of dead and injured is only increasing.
Experts agree that the threat of nuclear weapons is meant to intimidate the West. “This threat is nothing new,” Klein said. The goal is to undermine Western support for Ukraine and the use of nuclear weapons would be militarily useless, he added.
For example, this mission can only make political sense when the Moscow regime faces military defeat. However, Klein considers the use of nuclear weapons unlikely. This means Putin will lose the support of China and India.
Do you have a plan for the end of the war?
CATO Institute’s Ted Galen Carpenter told DW that Russia wants the war to end soon. Ukraine and the West should be happy to negotiate.
But Klein and Barros, who do not believe in a quick end to the conflict, have a very different view. Putin wants the West to stop supporting Ukraine.
According to Klein, the outcome of the war really depends on this continued support.