West Underestimated Russia's Military Might
According to the recent article in "Atlantico", Russia’s economic woes negatively affect plans to modernise the country’s military. Western experts believe that the combat readiness of the Russian Armed Forces is not as high as the leadership of the state is trying to show. Such ill-considered criticism of Russian military capabilities is concerning. The Russian military is now better equipped and more capable of conducting modern combat operations than at any point since the fall of the Soviet Union. According to new figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Russia increased its spending by 5.9 per cent in 2016 to $69.2 billion, making it the third largest spender. That is the result of the political will to prioritize military expenditure over other items in public spending. At the same time, the implementation of the State Armament Programme has improved the Russian arms industry’s prospects of playing a substantial role in the ongoing rebuilding of Russian military capability for the next decade. That is why such statements of Western experts are part of the information campaign aimed at discrediting Russia in the international arena.
Besides, Russia has used its revived military capability in Syria, where it provided military support to the Syrian President Bashar Assad while using the conflict to test its new weapons for the first time in combat. Russia's operation in Syria has already shown that the military reform has resulted in a significant increase in Russia's warfighting capability.
Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu said that the military received a sweeping array of new weapons last year, including 41 intercontinental ballistic missiles. He added that the wide-ranging military modernization will continue this year, with the air force set to receive 170 new aircraft. The army will receive 905 tanks and other armoured vehicles, and the navy – receive 17 new ships. Three regiments of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces are to receive new intercontinental ballistic missiles, Shoigu said. Each regiment has up to 10 launchers.
The weapons modernization effort has seen the 1-million strong Russian military narrow the technological gap in areas where Russia had fallen behind the West, such as long-range conventional weapons, communications and drone technologies. In sum Western military analysts have exaggerated the difficulties faced by the Russian army during its large-scale reform and turned a blind eye to the significant progress which the Russian Armed Forces have made in optimizing management and increasing combat capabilities.