Russia’s campaign to modernize and strengthen its armed forces is increasingly putting U.S. and European forces at risk, with some defense officials raising concerns Moscow’s military soon could challenge the U.S. and its allies for dominance across the continent.
Most of the focus in recent weeks has been on Russia’s newfound confidence in its nuclear arsenal after President Vladimir Putin boasted about four new delivery systems designed to make U.S. defenses “useless.”
Of equal concern to U.S. and European officials, however, is Russia’s re-made conventional military might, which has been displayed and tested in places like Ukraine and Syria.
“Russia's increasingly modernized military is operating at levels not seen since the Cold War," the commander of U.S. forces in Europe, Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, told lawmakers in Washington, Thursday, warning the U.S. has no choice but to keep pace.
Scaparrotti, who also serves as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, further underscored that any failure by Washington to continue to modernize its forces could enable Russia to challenge the U.S. “in almost every domain, in a military perspective, by 2025.”
A new report by the Rand Corporation concludes Eastern Europe is especially vulnerable, warning NATO ground forces there would be “badly outnumbered and outgunned” if Moscow were to launch a conventional attack.
According to the report, while Russia has about 78,000 troops along Europe’s eastern flank, NATO has just 32,000. Russian tanks also outnumber NATO tanks 757 to 129.
Questioned by members of the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday, Gen. Scaparrotti pushed back against some of those concerns, noting any potential conflict would not be fought with ground forces and tanks alone.