Russia's Limit of Advance
May 27, 2020
Analysis of Russian military capabilities reveals stark limitations in Russia's ability to safely and effectively deploy and sustain ground forces around the world. Notional deployment scenarios highlight a lack of readily deployable forces and transportation assets and limited freedom of movement. Collectively, these challenges suggest a modern Russian force that is far less deployable than the Soviet military it replaced.
Analysis of Russian Ground Force Deployment Capabilities and Limitations
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By the time it invaded Crimea in 2014, Russia seemed to have regained a significant portion of the military power it lost after the fall of the Soviet Union, reemerging as a perceived threat to democracy. But how capable is Russia of deploying and sustaining ground combat forces farther from its borders?
An analysis of notional ground deployment scenarios constructed from real-world, open-source data, along with a review of historical cases spanning the Soviet and post-Soviet eras, reveals strengths and limitations of Russia's military infrastructure. In fact, despite Russia's status as a reemerging global military power, its ground force deployment capability is strong only near its western border and within range of its air defenses. Although it poses a credible threat to Eastern Europe, its ability to deploy ground combat units drops off sharply as geographic distance increases. Limited forces and transportation assets, a lack of international support, and an insufficient ability to sustain its deployed forces also prevent Russia from regaining its Soviet-era deployment capacity.
This research was aided by a detailed order of battle for Russian ground forces and a specially designed calculator, which help advance understanding of the factors that stress Russia's ability to deploy forces and project power locally and globally. A companion report, Russia's Limit of Advance: Scenarios, presents more detail on the context and characteristics of the notional scenarios that underpin this research.
Analyzing Russian Ground Forces Deployment Capability
The RGF Deployment Calculator
Notional Scenario Example: Kuril Islands
Analysis of RGF Deployment Capability
Case Analyses of Russian Deployments
Order of Battle
This research was sponsored by the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7, U.S. Army and conducted by the Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program within RAND Arroyo Center.
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