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The 2020 Military Strength Rankings list Russia's military as #2 in strength:

  1. United States

  2. Russia

  3. China

However, their defense budget rankings show that Russia's only #8 in spending:

  1. United States (~750 billion USD)

  2. China (~237 billion USD)

    [... Saudi Arabia, India, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan ...]

  1. Russia (~48 billion USD)

How is Russia able to maintain such a powerful military despite relatively low defence spending compared to other similarly ranked countries?

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    Note that spending for a single year doesn't account for assets already owned by that military from previous years. Don't know if this is the case, but it is possible that the Russia had more assets than China still from previous years. – Chipster Feb 29 at 5:30
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    I can certainly say this article's conclusion is fake (from my own sources). – sanaris Feb 29 at 16:43
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    @sanaris That sounds like it might make for a valid answer then, if you have the time to write one. – CDJB Feb 29 at 16:44
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    Is a comparison with US spending relevant? "How can Russia be less militarily powerful than the US while spending less than the US?" is a pretty trivial question. "How can Russia be more militarily powerful than China while spending significantly less than China?" is more meaningful, if the assumptions are correct. – user3153372 Mar 1 at 9:45
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    I'm curious about how much economic value compelling hundreds of thousands of Russian young men to work for $30 a month for a year is worth. I'm curious how much it costs to run all the US civilian institutions that subsidize veterans. Both countries externalize a large amount of the costs, either to their civilian institutions or population. The figures do not represent this. But, maybe that's significant, or maybe it isn't. – Nathan Cooper Mar 2 at 9:03

10 Answers 10

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First, who is #2 is highly subjective, if you discount nuclear arsenals.

Second, this question is like asking Compared to a Ferrari a Mustang outruns tons of Priuses, Civics and SUVs. And it costs a lot less.

Does that mean a Mustang is anywhere close to a Ferrari in speed?

The US is, by virtue of its spending, #1, no question. It deliberately has put itself in a similar position as the Royal Navy's old bigger-than-the-next-two-navies-combined doctrine.

It could spend a lot less, it would still be #1. Maybe with a lot smaller margin, but it could trim its spending. A better question might be: why does the US electorate put up with this level of spending, with the USSR gone?

The US even had a 2 wars at once doctrine:

This doctrine remained in place until 1989–90, when President George H.W. Bush ordered the "Base Force" study which forecast a substantial cut in the military budget, an end to the Soviet Union's global threat, and the possible beginning of new regional threats. In 1993, President Bill Clinton ordered a "Bottom-Up Review," based on which a strategy called "win-hold-win" was declared—enough forces to win one war while holding off the enemy in another conflict, then moving on to win it after the first war is over. The final draft was changed to read that the United States must be able to win two "major regional conflicts" simultaneously.

So, the US is #1. Who is #2?

If you count in nukes, yes, that's Russia.

Without them? Not so sure. Their actual operations aren't always amazing. For example, their aircraft carrier had to be towed around in the recent Syria engagement and and caught fire later. Yes, they decisively beat Georgia in 08, but... Georgia? And even then, not everything was rosy - there was significant criticism, external and internal of their performance, which may have been corrected. In Chechnya, they massively goofed up in the first Grozny battle because of untrained troops and horrible tactics.

Cost structure

They, to answer your question, get a lot of theoretical bang for the bucks by using cheap conscripts. Would they be up to snuff in real combat - (check that Grozny link)? After while, sure. At the start?

In terms of budget, a lot of their equipment is, like the US's B52s, Cold War era, so needs no procurement. And they may have better control over costs than the Americans with their F35s, though they also wasted untold amounts of money through corruption in the 2014 games.

Some of their new gear really does look pretty good however, but they may not always be able to buy enough for that to matter.

Fighting in Europe, they would trounce the European forces (minus the US). For a while. But then they just lack the industrial infrastructure to keep it up if they don't win right away. They might still win, but more to European military weakness than due to their own merits.

China

And now you have China. Do you want to bet they could beat China in conventional war? I wouldn't, but that's exactly what your article claims. Not that they aren't nice to China, giving it one aircraft carrier, and not picking up on the fact that it's largely a training carrier, to get Chinese naval airpower doctrine figured out - the real PLA carriers are yet to come.

Does that mean China can beat them? Not sure, now. As time goes on, yes, China will be gaining.

Weakness in article

Wars are, to a degree often underestimated by people, determined by the training, morale and quality of the weapons, not just sheer numbers, which seems to be all the linked article cares about. Look the UK's #8 position, well behind Japan (which, I was intrigued to hear, has 4 aircraft carriers). Yup, makes a lot sense.

Look at Israel, not just now, but 40-50 years ago. The numbers looked one way, the actual wars went entirely another way. In 2003, the Iraqi army was 4th in the world. I bet that NK is very impressive, in sheer numbers.

To conclude:

  • Russia may or may not be #2
  • US spends so much that whoever is #2 is nowhere close to it so this question isn't as meaningful as it might seem.
  • This Business Insider article reminds me strongly of those Top 10 This-or-That videos on YouTube.

edit: globalfirepower.com, the primary "source"

With its numerous consumer ads, pompous domain name, Lego-styled design and PwrIndx (™) , these guys look they publish cat videos for armchair generals. Saudi Arabia #17, Israel #18. The Houthis must be quaking in their boots.

US: 0.0606, Russia: 0.0681, China: 0.0691. What, next, Death Star: 0.001?

What, and this relates directly to the title of the question, does the difference between 0.0606 and 0.0681 even try to convey, besides implying a near-match?

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    Generally agree. But looking at one defeat in a battle is not strong evidence. The US has suffered plenty of defeats in isolated battles, and yet they are still obviously #1. Russia lost the first war in Chechnya, but won the second. Is a 50/50 record good enough to rank #2? Tough to say. – Ryan_L Feb 29 at 6:15
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    @Ryan true, but Grozny part of a general pattern. The 2008 Georgia invasion had lotsa glitches, which looked pretty bad at the time. Bad enough that they reformed quite a bit and went out to purchase that Mistral class landing ship from the French, which they didn't get because of Ukraine. lots of their equipment is Soviet-era and their doctrine can suck too at times - post-Georgia it had to be/might have been fixed. Are they #2? likely, yes. are they a bit of a paper tiger? probably too, but Putin's prestige rides on military. Pre-1991 one might have similar doubts about the US. – Italian Philosophers 4 Monica Feb 29 at 15:42
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    @user312440 10 yrs ago, totally w u. now? these guys may have copied Western tech for years, but they do lotsa tricks nowadays, at least in computer hardware. not to diss on the Russians, but Western arrogance was plain 1905. or wMcArthur, 1950. they're smart, they've got $, they're not grafting hi-tech on decrepit Marxist 5yr plans. if I were planning for F35 strikes in say 2030, I'd worry about cheap autonomous drones with combat air-to-air AI. something like a ME163, short ranger, swarms of them. i might be off, stupid idea, but they have the engineering to pull off stunts like it – Italian Philosophers 4 Monica Mar 1 at 5:48
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    Re North Korea, I've read that they have the world's largest submarine fleet - but every one of their subs are small diesel boats, which limit their capabilities dramatically. I've read that they have a very large standing army with males conscripted for 10 years - but all but the highest-ranking officers have trouble coming up with food. It might be hard to motivate them to fight for a country that can't even feed them. – Henry Mar 1 at 20:33
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    @Henry don't underestimate the appeal of nationalism against a foreign force, the viet cong and NVA weren't exactly swimming in rice – llama Mar 1 at 21:49
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I have no experience in the Russian or US military, but my impression is that Russian weapons manufacturers face much greater pressures to charge lower prices.

US weapons manufactures consider the Pentagon a bottomless pit of money and face no pressure to reduce prices. 200 TOW missiles? Let's add a 3 extra zeros to the bill. Raytheon can charge whatever because there is no "mark to market" for a TOW.

The GDP of the Russian Federation is 1/3 the size of California alone. Russian generals count every penny spent on defense. On a weapons per weapons basis, Russia has much more parity than $ per $. Roughly speaking, 1 Kalibr = 1 Tomahawk. But, just because the US Navy is charged 4 times more for 1 Tomahawk than the Russian Navy is for 1 Kalibr does not make the US Navy 4 times stronger.

China has the weakest military. None of their weapons or soldiers have been proven in real combat. Mike Tyson famously said: "Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face." Soldiers have told me, no matter how much training you might do, nothing can prepare one for live incoming and facing death... US and Russia have proven their current weapons and soldiers in real battles (in the Middle East).

The future of India's national defense will be revealing. Will Modi switch from "as good" Russian weapons that cost ~1/10 in total ownership to that of US weapons... Unlike the Pentagon, Modi will have to monitor his defense budget. And, he might be using defense contractors that have never had concerns about controlling prices. So, let's see what Modi does.

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    Interesting answer, thanks! I wasn't aware of Indias reliance on Russian weapons manufacturers. – CDJB Feb 29 at 7:13
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    @CDJB The future of the Indian military sticking with Russia or turning to the West will not be covered in US media, but it will be so exciting. So many moving pieces, and it will be so symbolic. Can't wait. – user312440 Mar 1 at 3:13
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    I'd be interested to see any sources you have on this parity. The only source I can find for Kalibr cost is $1.2M, vs Tomahawk at $1.4M. – TemporalWolf Mar 2 at 23:17
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    "Russian generals count every penny spent on defense" - that's highly speculative. Certainly they have to deal with a limited budget: they can't expect to build a fleet of nuclear air carriers, or something like this. But whether they actually count any pennies, or roubles, other than those they can pocket, remains the question. – IMil Mar 3 at 0:26
  • "China has the weakest military. None of their weapons or soldiers have been proven in real combat." Considering that they import cutting-edge US military technologies en masse and have access to huge amounts of trade-deal funded manufacturing equipment and the largest economy of scale in the world, the Chinese military's arsenal is not exactly "unproven". When you can reverse-engineer the world leader's product and/or have the blueprints hand-delivered, the number of things that might fail to work in a combat encounter is reduced by several orders of magnitude. – pygosceles Mar 4 at 18:19
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Another issue is PPP (purchase power parity). You're comparing the budgets in Forex equivalents, which is generally thought to seriously underestimate the Russian defence budget. Keep in mind that when it comes to selling arms, Russian companies need state approval. So the prices that they can sell internationally vs domestically can be substantially different.

Based on the annual average dollar-to-ruble exchange rates, Russia is typically depicted as spending in the region of $60 billion per year on its military. This is roughly in line with the defense spending of medium-sized powers like the United Kingdom and France. However, anybody familiar with Russia’s military modernization program over the past decade will see the illogic: how can a military budget the size of the United Kingdom’s be used to maintain over a million personnel while simultaneously procuring vast quantities of capable military equipment?

[...]

The reason for this apparent contradiction is that the use of market exchange rates grossly understates the real volume of Russian military expenditure (and that of other countries with smaller per-capita incomes, like China). Instead, any analysis of comparative military expenditure should be based on the use of purchasing power parity (PPP) exchange rates rather than market exchange rates. This alternative method takes differences in costs between countries into account. As we demonstrate, despite some shortcomings, PPP is a much more methodologically robust and defensible method of comparing defense spending across countries than the method of comparing spending using the market exchange rates that are commonly used by think tanks and academics. Using PPP, one finds that Russia’s effective military expenditure actually ranged between $150 billion and $180 billion annually over the last five years. That figure is conservative; taking into account hidden or obfuscated military expenditure, Russia may well come in at around $200 billion.


The BI article doesn't have a terribly clear methodology how they ranked the countries, but if you look at some such military power indexes with clearer methodology, they generally employ a weighted sum of various indicators: tanks, aircract, personnel etc.

The issue with these indices is that they usually don't account for the "quality factor" in either equipment or personnel training. So, on such measures Russia (or China) tend to get overestimated. Russia for example has a lot of older tanks, that would not compete 1:1 with US ones, but there's usually no discount applied for this in military power indices. (Likewise for aircraft quality, etc.)

So when you combine the effects of Russia's budget being underestimated (at Forex rates) with the quality of their equipment being overestimated in typical indexes of (accumulated) military power, you get this large "huh" discrepancy.

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    It's still worth noting that quantity has a quality of it's own. E.g. an older Russian tank may be very vulnerable to advanced anti tank guided missiles like Spike; however these missiles themselves are quite expensive and not that numerous - IIRC Russia literally could muster more tanks (if the reserve tanks are brought out from maintenance) than there are such ATGMs in Europe. – Peteris Feb 29 at 14:56
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    @Peteris I bet tank crews would be stoked at your analysis. – Italian Philosophers 4 Monica Feb 29 at 22:58
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica I guess that is where the other cost-saving factor, conscription, comes in. The Russian military is still infamous for disregarding the well-being of its soldiers even today. They know that they'll get a fresh batch every year no matter what. – mlk Mar 1 at 20:23
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    Generally answer is not that bad, but those about "older tanks" - it is just laughable. US Abramses are of course very fresh. And that general point about "quality" - after showdown of inconsistency of US SAM systems in the middle east (in Saudi Arabia and later, while striking Iraqi US bases), it is very interesting to speak about quality. – user2501323 Mar 2 at 6:33
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Couple more points to consider, first one for US vs Russia (US vs everyone really) and second for China vs Russia...

The US does a lot of other nations' R&D for them

Some nations are relying on the US to do the research and development for them. Many nations let the US pave the road for a technology, so the US spends a gazillion dollars for R&D on something to get it first. Then allies buy it at a fraction the cost, and enemies steal it - also at a fraction the cost.

It is no secret that sources in Russia and China, among others, are frequently hacking US systems and paying traitors to hand over US technology secrets. Of course, the US probably does the same, but since I'm from the western world I don't hear about that complaint. But since the US is spending the big bucks, spying on Russia and China is probably more just so we know where their tech is at than it is to acquire new tech.

Russia seems to have a freer society than China

Comparing just Russia and China, I think most people would agree the Chinese suffer more governmental oppression and corruption. People outside Russia hear that supposedly Russia hassles government-critical media and has some oppressive tendencies, but that does not seem to be anything like what we see in China where the government censors everything, reporters disappear and drop like flies when they dare speak their mind, their people are limited in the information they have, people can be forced to move to cities and oppressed into their industrial complex, etc., etc., etc....

To really thrive, people need to be happy, free, and remain in high morale. The old saying "a happy worker is a superior worker" really is true. China is able to get tons of economic might by forcing so many people into cities to manufacture stuff, but economic might alone does not measure military strength in our age of high-tech warfare. You need your populace to be truly invested emotionally, mentally, spiritually, in a way that scales with freedom or oppression.

Neither the US nor Russia are paradises of complete freedom and liberty as both have their fair share of oppressive laws, but both seem better off than China.

Also free tinkerers discover more things. Even in the US tinkerers are not as free as they once were to make whatever they please. This reduction might play into US increased costs as well.

This whole "freedom" point is highly subjective, yet it is difficult to deny its enlightening benefits.

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    The R&D isn't for free, but the US export of its weapon systems to allies means a lot of clout without going to intimidation - so it is cheap influence. Including being able to get control of a place like Diego Garcia. – Stefan Skoglund Mar 1 at 19:59
  • @StefanSkoglund Excellent point. I would merge that into the answer if it were on topic for the question, but since it's not I'll just +1 your comment. Thanks for that food for thought. I do think though that it allows for a different kind of intimidation. – Aaron Mar 1 at 20:45
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    Your comments about freedom of expression in china have nothing to do with the question being asked. I am aware of no historical precedent that would indicate that a socially "free" society is tangibly more effective as a military power. – Iron Gremlin Mar 3 at 0:36
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    @IronGremlin "How did that work out for the US in Afghanistan?" Pretty well, actually. IIRC they managed to recruit a number of "tribal allies" to help them fight the Taliban. Things went south pretty quickly afterwards, of course, but that's different from the initial conflict. – nick012000 Mar 3 at 5:01
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    -1 the claim that Russians (and Chinese) are not happy / don't have high morale needs justification. My understanding is that it's not true, e.g. theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/01/… (interviews of Chinese students studying in Australia). – Allure Mar 3 at 9:00
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The Russian military is powered not only by the official military spendings. There are a lot of indirect ways that the army gets goods, services and labour and these are deeply entrenched in the russian economy, administration and the general way of living.

First, ordinary conscripted soldiers are paid symbolicaly (in the 90's it was even considered normal for a soldier to be supported by his parents). Professional military personnel is paid more or less the market rate, but options like early retirement (paid by the general social security system and not by military budget) distort the picture.

Second, most of the government-run (and a lot of private) businesses have military "departments" that do pretty much military-related projects/services. Their military-related activities are usually not directly financed by country's military budget. And remember, in post-Soviet Russia a lot of economy is still government-run.

All things put together, the part of the GDP going to military is way above the official numbers and for the late '80s can be estimated as 25-40%. Present-day percent is harder to estimate (a lot of private business and a lot of gray economy), but I doubt it is less than 10%.

And with these adjusted numbers you get a rather reasonable picture of the russian army.

Sorry, no official sources. The picture is deduced from the personal knowledge of the russian culture, lifestyle, tradition and economy.

edit: p.s. The "#2" or even "#1 depending on who strikes first" claim is made mainly by Russians themselves. It may be legitimately attributed to some decade in the past century BEFORE 80's and 90's. In 2020 - nyet, except for some really impressive cyberwarfare and fakenews feats. No wonder about the fakenews - they have enormously developed culture of both making and filtering "news" long before the Internet era. The Internet only made possible their already strong propaganda machine to deploy worldwide.

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Let's put it this way. Suppose military might is measured by the number of guns you have, and each gun costs exactly $100. If the USA has 100 guns, Russia has 99, and the rest of the world have 0, then Russia has the second most powerful military in the world, and it needs to spend 99% of the US military budget.

If the USA has 1,000,000 guns, Russia has 99, and the rest of the world have 0, then Russia still has the second most powerful military in the world, but now it only needs 0.0099% of the US military budget.

The second situation is pretty close to what the world is right now. The US military is capable of fighting the rest of the world combined. Small wonder it costs so much money.

Edit: to clarify the assertion that the US military is capable of fighting the rest of the world combined - see the source, the claim isn't that the US can conquer the world; it is only that the rest of the world cannot forcibly occupy the US.

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    As an American 20-year military veteran, I have to say that taking on the whole rest of the world is probably past our reach. Nuclear arsenals complicate the question greatly. However, American private citizens who own guns, put together, vastly outnumber the world's combined military forces. – EvilSnack Feb 29 at 13:01
  • @EvilSnack we'd have to be smart about it, and it also depends on what kind of war and for what purpose – awsirkis Mar 1 at 1:50
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    The interesting part of the question is that China spends more than Russia but is ranked behind it. (over 200 G$/yr vs 44 G$/yr defense budgets, respectively.) I know the question title misses the point, but your simplification of the rest of the world spending 0 conflicts with the data in the question. – Peter Cordes Mar 1 at 4:27
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    Considering that we have nearly depleted our stocks of smart bombs (JDAMs) just fighting insurgents, and not even full-scale state belligerents, I highly question this "America can win vs. all" claim. America has a much smaller force of highly trained soldiers who do fairly well in focused engagements. They could easily be overrun by massed troops from all other militaries combined. – Lawnmower Man Mar 1 at 21:47
  • @LawnmowerMan check the source - the claim is not that America can win, but rather that it cannot lose. – Allure Mar 2 at 0:09
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The USA has military posts all over the world, at huge expense. Russia has almost none in comparison. Russia has been able to spend money on technology and internal infrastructure and therefore has a world-class military at a fraction of the cost.

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PPP and horrible inefficiency of US military industrial complex

First of all, GDP is not very good measurement of wealth. It is based on currency ratios, and ruble is usually vastly underestimated in those. Better measurement would be PPP (purchasing power parity), and Russia stands much better there.

Second, military industrial complex in US is privately owned, and basically tends to bribe politicians and generals (mostly legally, trough donations, consultation jobs etc...) in order to maximize profit. Just look at F-35 saga and cost overruns and you will get the picture. On the other hand, Russian military manufacturers like Sukhoi are under government control (majority of shares) and aircraft companies are joined into UAC, but they do have certain competition among themselves. Overall, government would not allow large budget overruns.

Third, Russia tends to develop asymmetric cheaper response to US threats. For example, US has large fleet of aircraft carriers for global power projection. Russia responds with supersonic missiles with long range that could sink those carriers at the fraction of cost. Recent example is Kh-47M2 Kinzhal - even if half of Russian claims for this missile are true, it would be formidable weapon and grave threat, especially for USN carriers.

Fourth, sadly, quality of STEM studies on US universities has declined. Asians are now largest ethnic group in STEM studies in US, many of them Chinese nationals, and this goes especially for studies in fields of physics and chemistry that would be potentially useful for US military complex. Brightest minds turn toward more lucrative carriers (IT, banking etc ...) or easier goings (management, law ...) . In Russia, there is still some prestige (not necessarily monetary) in finishing difficult STEM studies and then working "for motherland" in some institute. Lot of this would of course depend on social structure of Russian society, but it seems that for now, Russia is not yet so brutally plutocratic and mercantile as US.

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  • The communist era educated kader (medicine doctors, members of the science academy, engineers and managers) was the new nobility of Russia, the same group is i would say forming a an elite today (a number of them became rather rich in the Jeltsin era.) – Stefan Skoglund Mar 1 at 20:55
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    @StefanSkoglund Not necessarily, lots of educated Russians lived poorly under Yeltsin, and welcomed Putin's revival of old institutions. Anyway, I'm more interested in those educated after fall of USSR , especially millennial generations. It looks like there is still appeal to become engineer or scientist in big government projects, including military. – rs.29 Mar 1 at 22:05
  • global power projection, +1. "US has large fleet of aircraft carriers" is an understatement. US: 11. Ten of which are the largest in the world. Russia: 1. (UK, China, Japan, Italy: 2). Whoever is 2nd is up for debate, but a moot point five times over plus one. – Mazura Mar 1 at 23:56
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    Nimitz class carry ~6000 people. Sink one of those and the "grave threat" will be yours. We've invaded countries and destroyed entire governments for less than that, and often on a pretense. – Mazura Mar 2 at 0:12
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    @Mazura Sorry to burst your bubble, but in case of war vs Russia, aircraft carriers and air bases would be primary target for Russians. Do not believe me ? Look at what did Iranians target first. Multiply that with 10 (at least) and you will get the picture . Could that escalate to nuclear exchange ? Sure, but then we are all screwed up . – rs.29 Mar 2 at 8:35
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As Russian who served 20 years at armed forces and had a job at military industrial complex for many years I may try to answer: Some answers already provided are true - indeed, Russian military budget is somehow hidden, and PPP should be taken into account and militaries are underpaid. But that cannot explain almost 5 times difference in spending with China and almost 20 times difference with US. Thus - that explains only part of the difference. Maybe difference is NOT 5 and 20 times. Maybe it is 3 and 10 times less. No one knows. I am afraid Putin does not know exact numbers too. BUT: IMHO of course, main answer is historical and cultural. It can be explained on examples. You know, Leningrad was under siege for almost 3 years. Many countries of Europe tried to take it for that many years. Not only Germany. It was united siege of Germany, Italy, Spain, Romania, Finland and others. Equipment was supplied by almost all of modern EU because everything was occupied or served to 3d Reich at continental Europe. At that times I believe GDP and military expenditures of Germany and continental Europe was higher than USSR one. People virtually eaten each other at Leningrad. There was not chances to survive if to count “numbers”. But - the fact is - Leningrad produced A LOT of military equipment and exported it out of besieged city. People got 250 g of bread from "mainland" per day and exported much more arms to "mainland". And finally won. Can you measure that with money?

Another example from modern days. Military industrial complex is in fact, underpaid. But it works and produces arms according plans. Actually, not many factories ever got good income. But in many cases, they deserve it. Because in some cases they produce best arms in the world. But they produce what they asked for and even more. I guess their counterparts at US would ask for many trillions in income. Russian military industrial complex asks for budget money to pay salaries but not to make income. Can you measure that with money?

Finally, I guess more than half of the country either served at army or produced something for the army. In some cases, free of charge at all. I know only one country on earth alike. It is Israel I guess. So, can you measure that in dollars or euros?

So, as a result, military might, and money are ... quite irrelevant at Russia. They depends on each other but not directly. No surprise here. Money and Love ...Money and happiness...are irrelevant alike. Thus, you would ask a question: "Why my salary is 100 times of John one, but Mary loves Him not Me"? That would make sense alike.

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  • I think you want to say, that military power is not measured by military budget size. It would be great to support it with examples - for example country A has huge military budget, but poor military forces - to show, that power is because of people, and not because of expensive machines. And so on. – user2501323 Mar 3 at 11:14
  • Yes, but rather not measured directly. Sure, military power depends on money. In no ways Russia may be more powerful than US because Russia is spending 20 times less. As of examples - history of mankind is full with such examples. Starting David and Goliaf, 300 spartacians and ended modern day Afganistan. – Alexander Mar 3 at 11:22
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Russia funnels its entire available GDP into its military.

By contrast, in the US, even modest defense appropriations have to contend with widespread disapproval from the Left and an already overdrawn budget on account of massive welfare spending programs, etc.

My father worked as a defense intelligence specialist for the US Department of Defense for many years. He was tasked at one point to find out whether "consumer" Soviet satellites had a military application. He found that there is no such thing as a Russian satellite that does not have military applications. In his own words, "The Soviet Union does not have a war machine, it IS a war machine". Nothing has changed in that regard in spite of the supposed "collapse" of the Soviet Union. I am an eyewitness to this also. When I was about 14 years old, I toured an assembly plant for the then in-service Space Shuttle program.* I got to see one of the rocket engine assemblies in the hangar. "Where is that made?" I asked. The tour guide announced that the engines are bought from Russia for $9 Million a pop. Yes, this is OUR space program just a handful of years after the Soviet Union had supposedly collapsed! (Wait, who won the space race?) Countries in shambles do not readily produce high technology, nor do they rebound and eclipse the world leader in space technologies within a decade!

And so the sham of Soviet "collapse" continues to be paraded in academia and on news media in spite of all evidence to the contrary, including irrefutable evidence of massive and highly deployed military investments by Russia and its allies, and of espionage, sabotage, and military secrets and materiel being gifted by high-ranking US officials to Communist countries. They could not be where they are today militarily if they were not propped up by traitors within the US and other capitalist nations.

Russia proudly parades its latest military hardware through Red Square every year on May 9th. You can watch last year's parade here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHeNXcPaEL0. By contrast, the US president drew a lot of flak from left-leaning institutions for holding a simple military parade in connection with the nation's Independence Day celebrations.

*Likely either the tour guide misstated or I misremembered this detail as it appears the US may not have purchased space shuttle engines from the Russians, nonetheless the US space program was purchasing and using rocket engines from Russia at the time (See linked sources).

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  • Please try to add references to support your answer. – JJ for Transparency and Monica Mar 2 at 21:45
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    What Shuttle engines were bought from Russia? The Main Engines (RS-25) were designed and built in the US by Rocketdyne. The Solid Rocket boosters were designed and built in the US by Thiokol. – Glen Yates Mar 2 at 22:21
  • seems a bit of a rant, off-tangent, not particularly factual - the rockets, dubious claims of non-weakening during Soviet->Russia transition, "traitors" - and more concerned with partisan blaming than providing military capability details. – Italian Philosophers 4 Monica Mar 3 at 16:39
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica Military capability details, see the video. You'll get loads more details than MSM will allow. This is not politically correct. – pygosceles Mar 3 at 19:20
  • @GlenYates I do not know which engines specifically. I am relating what the tour guide told me. There is documentation that the American space program has been using Russian engines for many years, going back at least to the year 2000. nbcnews.com/mach/space/… aerospaceamerica.aiaa.org/features/… If there was a significant "weakening" as claimed, how did the Russians manage to produce better and cheaper rockets than the US at scale within a decade of the supposed collapse? – pygosceles Mar 3 at 19:30

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