I recently scanned a blog entry claiming that Russia’s nerve agent attack on two people in Britain (plus the innocent bystander) wasn’t that big a deal, and that the reaction to it has been excessive. Well, perhaps.
But that blog went on to claim that militarily Russia is a bit of a pushover :-
- It’s less than a third the size of the Soviet Red Army. Perhaps but it still has 1 million active personnel and 2.5 million reservists. Not a size you can discount!
- It’s weaponry is obsolete. I can’t point to anything other than Russia spending $70 billion a year on defence to say otherwise, but “modernisation” crops up regularly in an discussion of the Russian military. And not in the sense of something that is required, but in the sense of something that is happening.
Lastly there was a reference to something that makes any student of history stare in amazement, and students of military history fall about the floor laughing. That is that Russia’s territory is flat and indefensible – ideal territory for mass tank battles (and indeed previously mass cavalry battles).
The Russian military knows this.
The last successful invasion of Russia whose territory has always been “ripe for invasion” was in the 13th century by the Mongol hordes.
There have been four major invasion attempts that failed to a greater or lesser extent :-
The Swedish military genius Charles XII tried in 1707, and was sounded beaten by the Russians assisted by the Russian winter.
Napoleon gave it a go in 1812, and the Russians inflicted a military disaster on him, again aided by a Russian winter.
Germany fought Russia during WWI, and managed to capture a considerable amount of Russian territory aided by the Russian revolution. But no major Russian cities were lost.
Again Germany tried in WWII, and Russia inflicted a major military defeat on them, with the assistance of the Russian winter.
The notion that anyone will try invading Russia is a bit ridiculous anyway (at least whilst Trump is Putin’s puppet).
So the threat from Russia is supposed “only” from cyberwar; which could be a damp squib or far more exciting than we believed possible. The fact is, we haven’t seen a full scale cyber attack against the UK, and don’t know what the results might be. Given the example of attacks against the Ukraine, we could expect wide-spread power blackouts, but it could be a great deal worse.
To be fair, I think the term “cyberwar” is a bit deceptive; attacking a nation’s connected technology is a tactic in a more widespread scheme of disruption and even war. There again, calling it “cyberwar” is a legitimate means to get funding for defences against such attacks.