After a rapid decline in the early 1990s - when its
weaknesses were exposed by the disastrous first Chechen war and
the loss of the Kursk - Russia's military has recovered some of
its old prestige at home. But new prosperity has had a modest
impact on defence.
National security still largely depends on nuclear forces. A
new intercontinental missile, the Topol-M, was deployed in
There are plans for a contract-based (professional)
military, but conscription still accounts for many
Despite increases in procurement and ambitious designs like
the fifth-generation fighter jet project, the defence industry
relies heavily on exports.
invading troops may have looked fearsome in
Georgia in August 2008, Russia's conventional
military is no match for NATO or
Much of the
navy is rusting on decaying piers in Murmansk.
Their backup, a large nuclear arsenal (Russia
possesses half of the world's nuclear weapons),
is unlikely to factor into future regional
Russia does not represent the strategic threat to Western
interests as the Kremlin cannot afford to excessively
antagonize the international community in the long term.