What would happen if the largest country on Earth decided it needs more territory and power? It might just go to war over it. What country could Russia invade first? What could be the plan of attack? And what is the most dangerous weapon in Russia’s possession?
Russia already takes up one-eighth of all of the inhabited land on the planet. And now it has its eyes on one of its European neighbors, Ukraine. Historically, Ukraine and Russia have been in conflicts before. Most recently, Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula, Crimea. And then, it backed a separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine.
Now, Russia doesn’t want Ukraine cozying up to NATO. It wants NATO out of Eastern Europe, period. And even though Russia isn’t a member of NATO to make decisions on such things, with one of the most powerful militaries in the world, Russia might feel like it can play by its own rules.
OK, let’s back up a little. First, you might be wondering what NATO is. It’s the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and right now, it includes 30 members. The U.S., Canada, Netherlands and the U.K. are among them. NATO’s goal is to keep the peace and make sure no member of this alliance gets invaded by an international military force.
You know, like that time Russia took Crimea from Ukraine. Now, Ukraine is not yet a member of NATO. But it’s shown interest in joining it. And that doesn’t sit well with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. Putin is already a little freaked out that NATO is training Ukrainian troops and some members are supplying its army with weapons.
So he’s decided to go about it with a good ol’ method of persuasion. He’s threatening to start a war. With a defense budget of $42 billion, Russia puts a lot of love and money into its military. Russia’s army counts 3.5 million recruits. And it has tanks, 13,000 of them. No other country in the world has this many.
Russia also has 27,000 armored vehicles and ranks the first in the world with its 4,465 artillery guns. Then, there is also Russia’s nukes to worry about. All 6,257 of them. These can be launched from aircraft, subs or missiles. But if Russia decided to attack, chances are it wouldn’t start on land. The first strike would likely come from the air.
This could level electricity stations and bridges, obliterate rail lines and cripple the economy of any country attacked. In addition to this, Russia’s naval fleet is nearly unmatchable. Their nuclear-powered submarines parked along a coastline alone could pose enough of a threat to anyone thinking about taking them on. Depending on who the targeted country is, of course.
If Russia attacked Ukraine, NATO would likely respond with heavy economic sanctions. But Russia has allies of its own. It’s a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, or CSTO. This is a group of six former Soviet states in a NATO-like alliance. It also has Cuba in its corner. And should things get really testy, Cuba would be a key hub for Russian troops looking to do some damage on U.S. soil.
It’s scary when 100,000 Russian troops are standing on your doorstep. But this likely wouldn’t be a war to wipe out the country. Chances are, Russia has something to gain from it. It might be natural resources or political leverage. Whatever it is, the plan wouldn’t be to obliterate every target in its way. Only to do enough damage to make their point.
In the case of Ukraine, it could shut down the Ukrainian economy. But they could do it with minimal forces needed on the ground. War is also not fought the same way it was even a decade ago. It can be much more covert. Hack attack, anyone?
- “What Is NATO?”. 2022. nato.int.
- “2022 Russia Military Strength”. 2022. globalfirepower.com.
- “Ukraine’S Military Poses A Tougher Challenge For Russia Than In 2014”. Dan Peleschuk. 2021. politico.eu.
- “A Simple Guide To The Ukraine-Russia Crisis: 5 Things To Know”. 2022. aljazeera.com.
- “5 Weapons Russia Would Likely Use To Attack Ukraine”. Brent M. Eastwood. 2022. businessinsider.com.