Russia's military today can overpower any potential foe but should strengthen its nuclear arsenal, President Vladimir Putin told an annual end-of-year meeting Thursday with defense chiefs.
"We can say with certainty: We are stronger now than any potential aggressor," he told the meeting. "Anyone!"
His comments come at the end of a year when tensions between Russia and the West have remained on edge over the civil war in Syria.
Russia is far weaker than America alone or the West in general. Putin's advantage is that Russia is stronger than those who border on Russia. Most Western strength is far from Russia's borders.
I will dissent from the view expressed that Russia is stronger because he controls the military and can send it into combat without legislative approval.
That doesn't make Russia stronger. It makes Russia capable of acting more quickly.
Russia's lack of legislative backing actually makes Russian commitment of their troops rather fragile. Russia is no longer the nation that can absorb 30 million dead to win a war, as they did in World War II. Russia is highly sensitive to casualties and maintains secrecy over death reports and tries to minimize military body bags coming home with the use of contract soldiers (mercenaries) and reliance on firepower.
And when Putin says he is stronger than any potential aggressor from the West, he is technically absolutely correct because there is no potential aggressor in the West that Russia needs to worry about.
The West is only making small but significant adjustments to defense postures in response to Russian aggression and hostile rhetoric that paints the West as a major threat to Russia--except when Putin wants to boast of his military strength, I guess.
Russia goes on about Western threats while in the east, a potential military threat to Russian territorial integrity, China, grows more powerful.
Russia might want to consider that the treaty that suspended Chinese land claims on large chunks of Russia's Far East that Russia took from China in the 19th century will expire in 2021.
We'll see if that "anyone!" boast survives that year.