How many troops does Russia have? Inside Moscow’s formidable military forces

Russia's 'brandishing of nuclear sword' discussed by expert

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NATO has announced plans to dramatically boost its forces while Russia continues to pose an increasing and substantial threat to European security. It has set out plans to build a rapid response force of over 300,000, but just how does it compare to Russia’s military service?

How many troops does Russia have?

Russia’s military comprises both volunteers and conscripts, with around 1.3 million reaching military age annually, indicating a consistent turnover of troops.

Information varies but according to defence tracker Global Firepower, Russia’s military force ranks second in the world falling just behind the US.

In total, it lists Russia to have just under 70 million people on hand for military service, with 850,000 active personnel and 250,000 in reserve, equating to around 1,350,000 overall.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Military Balance estimates the number of active personnel available to Russia to be around 900,000, while estimates the country to have approximately 1,154,000.

The CIA Factbook also lists Russia to have around 850,000 active personnel and breaks its service strengths down to include approximately 300,000 ground troops; 40,000 airborne troops; 150,000 navy; 160,000 aerospace forces; and 70,000 strategic rocket forces.

It estimates there to be approximately 20,000 special operations forces; around 100,000 other uniformed personnel (command and control, cyber, support, logistics, security); and an estimated 200-250,000 federal national guard troops.

Russia’s land forces

Russia ranks as the country with the largest number of land forces surpassing the US, according to Global Firepower.

The tracker estimates Russia to boast around 12,420 tanks; 30,122 armoured vehicles; 6,574 self-propelled artillery; 7,571 towed artillery; and 3,391 rocket projectors.

Russia’s naval power

Russia’s naval fleet is estimated to rank second in the world just behind China, with a total of 605 vessels.

The country is said to possess 70 submarines; 15 destroyers; 11 frigates; 86 corvettes; 59 patrol vessels; 49 vessels for submarine warfare; but just one aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov.

Russia’s airpower

Ranking second in Global Firepower’s global airpower list, Russia’s total number of aircraft is estimated to amass around 4,173.

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This figure comprises 772 fighter/interceptor aircraft; 739 dedicated attack aircraft; 445 transport aircraft; 20 tankers, 132 for special missions, 1,543 helicopters, 544 attack helicopters; and 522 training aircraft.

It is also listed as having the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, with an approximate supply of 6,400 warheads.

NATO, which is a collective of nations, marginally exceeds Russia’s forces with an army consisting of approximately 1,346,400 personnel.

Around 165,000 of those are deployed, with 799,500 reserves waiting on standby.

As the Russia-Ukraine war reaches week 18, Moscow has shown unrelenting determination to “demilitarise” Ukraine, despite crippling sanctions and denouncements.

Following its increased and “direct” threats to European security in surrounding countries, NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg announced plans to expand NATO’s rapid reaction force from 40,000 to “well over 300,000”, during this week’s Madrid summit.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reported to be calling on alliance leaders to increase their defence budgets accordingly, as he too is under pressure to do more on the UK’s military spending.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who is also attending the Madrid summit, said that while he has enough funding for the “here and now”, additional investment is needed in the next Government spending round from the middle of the decade.

Mr Wallace told Sky News: “My (spending) settlement was done before Russia invaded Ukraine. Russia is very, very dangerous on the world stage.”

“The world is less secure than it was two, three years ago, and is not looking likely to change for the rest of the decade.

“That is the moment, in the middle of the decade, to say we should commit to increased funding.”

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