The Russian military suffered years of neglect after the Soviet collapse and no longer casts the shadow of a global superpower. However, the Russian armed forces are in the midst of a historic overhaul with significant consequences for Eurasian politics and security. Russian officials say the reforms are necessary to bring a Cold War-era military into the twenty-first century, but many Western analysts fear they will enable Moscow to pursue a more aggressive foreign policy, often relying on force to coerce its weaker neighbors. Some say Russian interventions in Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014—both former Soviet republics seeking closer ties to the West—demonstrate that President Vladimir Putin is prepared to use military force to reestablish Russian hegemony in its near abroad.
What are Russian conventional military capabilities?
Both in terms of troops and weapons, Russian conventional forces dwarf those of its Eastern European and Central Asian neighbors (see Table 1), many of which are relatively weak ex-Soviet republics closely allied with Moscow. Russia has a military pact with Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan through the Collective Security Treaty Organization, formed in 1992. Moscow also stations significant troops in the region: Armenia (3,200), Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (7,000), Moldova’s separatist Transnistria region (1,500), Kyrgyzstan (500), and Tajikistan (5,000).