As the media has reported, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has announced plans to create two new divisions in the Western Military District and another in the South Military District.
The move is motivated by the need to counter NATO.
Three additional divisions – is that a lot or a little? Is Russia prepared for a hypothetical war with the alliance? In what forms would it be conducted if it does begin?
Konstantin Sivkov, associate member of the Russian Academy of Rocket and Artillery Science, answers these questions for KM.RU.
Three divisions is a “fearsome force,” especially against the background of the 64 Chinese deployed divisions, not counting all the other detachments, and China’s general mobilization potential of 192 million men.
In order to address the full range of the country’s defense challenges, the size of Russia’s armed forces should, at minimum, be increased one and a half times. That’s my assessment.
Of course, the appearance of three new divisions, 30,000 men, is a good thing, but it’s too little.
I was talking about China, but insofar as Shoigu spoke about the Western direction, I would note that NATO has rapid deployment forces. In all, in a short amount of time the bloc can put forward a force of up to 2 and even 3 million. But that’s in the event of a full deployment during war, if one begins.
Right now the situation is relatively calm, and only parts of the dual basing forces are deployed on our borders, but they’re constantly building up and familiarizing themselves with the operational region. They do so under the cover of training exercises and under other guises.
Of course, NATO is morally and psychologically unprepared for a full-scale ground war. Everyone understands perfectly well that a major war is impossible due to the fact that we have the nuclear cudgel. Therefore, the war would be of another kind. It would be a hybrid war, and it’s already underway.
Does that mean that we don’t need to increase our ground forces? No, it doesn’t. They’ll be needed in the event that mass riots and a loss of control caused by the hybrid war suddenly begin.
Ground forces can maintain order in the event of local unrest. We should be in a position to solve problems without nuclear weapons.
By the way, the experience of Syria has shown that the role of tanks hasn’t declined. In Syria, tanks decide everything, including fights in the cities. It’s just necessary to know how to use them properly. Where aviation isn’t being used on a large scale, in local wars, tanks are required.
Our country was traditionally strong in this area and surpassed the West for a long time. But in the last 25 years, things have changed somewhat. The T-90 is already a bit behind the best Leopard and Abrams models.
It was expected that in the ‘90s the “Molot” tank would go into service, and it was significantly ahead of Western models. But that didn’t happen and only now has the new T-14 Armata come into view. This next-generation machine is, in essence, the evolution of the “Molot” model, and panic has already emerged in the West over it. Our tank substantially surpasses Western tanks. Now we must make enough of them.
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