In Numbers: How Russia's Military Could Crush Ukraine Without Batting an Eye 

Vladimir Putin is putting a power play into motion.

Russia and Ukraine are now in a full-blown conflict. Russia and Ukraine have been engaged in an ongoing conflict since 2014 when Russia abruptly annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea after the Ukrainian revolution ousted the Kremlin-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych. The causes of the conflict can be traced back as far as the Warsaw Pact and the former Soviet Union, and decades of tension have finally reached its peak. 

Fast forward to February 2022, and tensions have only worsened since that fateful revolution eight years ago. The fighting has never stopped, and thousands of soldiers and civilians of both sides have become casualties of this conflict. Ukraine has lived under the threat of a Russian invasion since then, but that threat has never been so close to becoming a reality until now. 

Ukraine has strongly expressed its interest to join its allies by becoming a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Western alliance of nations has a long history with Russia, most of it rife with conflicts and disagreements. Russia’s enduring animosity with the U.S. was only made worse when the U.S. stood by Ukraine during the conflict. With Ukraine now on the verge of joining NATO, the nation’s geography would put NATO right on the doorstep of Russia. 

And Vladimir Putin does not like that. 

He’s moved swiftly to shore up the military along the Russian-Ukrainian border and made it verbally clear that he will do whatever it takes to stop NATO from encroaching on Eastern Europe. That includes demanding that NATO never includes Ukraine in its organization—ever. The U.S. and its allies have already implemented harsh sanctions on Russia after it invaded Ukraine, but commentators question whether sanctions are enough now that Ukraine is facing Russia's massive military. 


Infographic: The Russia-Ukraine Military Imbalance | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

That brings us to the issue at hand—the military might of the two nations at war. Like Russia, Ukraine was a member of the Soviet Union before its collapse, but that’s where its similarities end. Russia’s military is clearly obviously larger than Ukraine’s, but it’s hard to envision just by how much. Compared to the firepower at Russia’s disposal, Ukraine’s military force is terrifyingly weak, which explains its need for allies in a war it can’t possibly win. 

Based on GlobalFirePower’s data, Russia could crush Ukraine without batting an eye. The large nation is in fact the second strongest military force in the world. But first place will have to go to the U.S. The two are almost evenly matched, with Russia having the upper hand on land and air strength going to the U.S. But the latter still comes out on top.

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While NATO is rolling out harsh economic sanctions on Russia, the alliance cannot formally enter Ukraine territory as it's not yet a member of NATO. Instead, US soldiers are currently camped out in Poland's Ukraine border, and the Romanian air force is monitoring the skies to ensure fighting won't leak into their country to the south.

In short, Ukraine is on its own—for now. Reports on the ground claim Ukraine is already calling on civilians to join the fight against Russian attacks. Now it’s only a question of whether the U.S. is willing to do more than sanction Russia if de-escalation proves impossible in this ongoing crisis. Because without the U.S. and NATO’s backing, Ukraine faces an unwinnable war. 

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Anri Ichimura
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