In 2015, referring to Russian military interventions in Crimea and Syria, President B. Obama declared that Russia was no more than a regional force in decline. Today, while Moscow has massed nearly 100.000 men on the borders of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Poutine believes that his country's military power is sufficient to allow him to impose firm conditions on European countries as to the future of his neighbor. Considering the discretion of all the European powers in this matter, it is clear that, for none of them, Russia is today a negligible military power, and even less in decline.
However, the general perception as to the real military power at the disposal of the Kremlin is most often largely erroneous, and very much in the grip of what was the Soviet military power of the Cold War. While it is true that in the field of strategic weapons, Moscow continues to be on par with Washington, whether in number of heads or vectors, its conventional military power, for its part, has greatly evolved over the past 15 years. , under the combined action of the reforms carried out by Defense Minister Sergei Chouigou and the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov, both of whom took up their posts on the occasion of Vladimir Putin's return to the Kremlin in 2012 And today, the Russian armed forces have a structure, but also a doctrine, and a level of operational efficiency, without any common measure with the Soviet Red Army.
A professionalized and modern armed force
While the Red Army assembled, at the height of the Cold War in the 80s, more than 6 million men, and tens of thousands of tanks and armored vehicles, the modern Russian Army is at the same time many more compact, with only 900.000 men and women serving the flag, and infinitely more efficient, thanks in particular to a very high rate of professionalization, which today represents more than 72% of the workforce. The 250.000 conscripts who carry out their military service for a period of one to two years, depending on the case, are in fact assigned to support, logistics and internal security missions, where the 650.000 active soldiers constitute, as for them, the operational strike force of this army. Among them, only 300.000 men and women belong to the Russian ground forces, to which must be added the some 75.000 paratroopers of the airborne forces. The air forces, which bring together the Air Force, but also the space force and the defense force operating ballistic missiles as well as the anti-air and anti-missile defenses of the country, bring together 190.000 men and women. As for the Russian Navy, in full revival, it is strong of 160.000 sailors and officers.
In fact, the Russian armies today no longer rely, as previously in the Soviet Union, on the desire to surpass the adversary numerically, but rather on professional soldiers with a high level of training, but also a real combat experience. So, according to Vladimir Putin, 85% of Russian officers in command have had experience of combat, in particular through numerous deployments in the Syrian theater, but also in Libya, in the Donbas or in the Caucasus. The same is true of equipment, or almost, in service in the armed forces, a majority of them having been deployed and experienced in combat in these theaters, with a particularly effective feedback and continuous improvement mechanism, if public reports are to be believed.
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