Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Poverty Saves Russia's Paratroopers

Russia has canceled their plan to double their airborne forces because of financial problems. That will save their airborne forces.

On the surface, this seems like good news:

The Russian government revealed that in late January it had ordered a halt to a program that was to expand and modernize the airborne forces. This confirms rumors that the government has quietly halted military rebuilding and expansion efforts, especially for the special operations troops (which includes airborne units as well as the more traditional commandos). This is all because of the continuing economic crises.

At the time, I thought that this expansion plan was actually a counter-productive move.

So Russia's poverty has saved a pocket of decent troops that they have.

Which is a reminder--as I've often noted, even before the Ukraine Crisis--that Russia is weak compared to the United States in conventional military power.

But Russia does have the conventional power to defeat weaker states:

Eventually, deep Russian decline will limit its aggression. For the time being, however, a nuclear-armed Mr Putin is bent on imposing himself in the old Soviet sphere of influence. In Mr Obama’s last year as president, Mr Putin, fresh from Syrian success, could yet test the West one more time.

Unfortunately, such weaker states are close to Russia.

And Russia has a lot of nukes to rattle in order to keep any such conflict between Russia and a target from escalating to a conflict that draws in a coalition of Western states superior to Russia in conventional military power,

This is what makes Russia so frustrating. So many people dismiss the need to stop Putin by saying--rightly--that Russia is weak.

This is true. But my take is why shouldn't we help targets of Russia resist Russian aggression because Russia is weak enough to defeat?

I'd rather halt the Russians as far east as possible. I don't assume Russia will decline forever. They've always been poorer, after all, yet in the past have managed to build a military capable of pushing west.