How many troops does Russia have? Size of Russian army compared to Nato and Ukraine as Putin launches invasion
Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared war on Ukraine, with explosions beginning around Kyiv shortly after 5am on Thursday.
The first casualties have already been reported, with at least eight people killed by shelling on Thursday morning.
Ukrainian officials have advised citizens to seek shelter in their basements, and people also flocked to Kyiv subway stations as air raid sirens blared across the capital.
Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said: “Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes.
“This is a war of aggression. Ukraine will defend itself and will win. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now.”
President Putin has said Russia does not intend to take over Ukraine, but rather demilitarise the country.
How big is Russia’s army?
Russia has around 900,000 active military personnel, roughly 200,000 of which were stationed at the Ukrainian border ahead of the invasion.
The Russian navy operates 74 warships and 51 submarines, while the army has more than 13,300 tanks, almost 20,000 armoured fighting vehicles, and nearly 6,000 pieces of artillery.
Its air force boasts around 1,300 aircraft and 500 helicopters.
Russia also possesses plenty of long-range weaponry, including more than 500 land-based ballistic missile launchers.
On Wednesday President Putin boasted about Russia’s hypersonic missiles, which are missiles that travel faster than Mach 5, or 3,836mph.
This means they move at about one mile per second, or five times faster than the speed of sound. There is currently no way to stop or intercept them.
Some can travel even faster. Russia’s Kh-47M2 Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missile, for example, can allegedly reach Mach 10, equivalent to more than 7,600mph.
How big is Ukraine’s army?
Russia’s forces are significantly larger than Ukraine’s. Ukraine has just shy of 200,000 military personnel – a fifth of Russia’s number.
Ukraine does not have any submarines and owns just two warships, meaning Russia far exceeds its forces at sea.
On land the Ukrainian army has just over 2,100 tanks, 2,870 armoured fighting vehicles and 2,000 pieces of artillery.
And its air force possesses around 150 aircraft and 40 helicopters – roughly a tenth of Russia’s supply.
Ukraine’s defence budget stands at around $11.8bn, compared with Russia’s $154bn, showing the gulf in the two countries’ military capabilities.
How big are Nato’s combined forces?
However, defences have been stepped up at bases in neighbouring countries, and all 30 Nato members would immediately be at war with Russia should President Putin attack one Nato nation.
Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday: “This is a grave breach of international law, and a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security.
“We stand with the people of Ukraine at this terrible time. Nato will do all it takes to protect and defend all allies.”
He added that the allies were meeting “to address the consequences of Russia’s aggressive actions”.
Which countries are in Nato?
Here are the 30 Nato-member countries, along with the year they joined:
- Albania (2009)
- Belgium (1949)
- Bulgaria (2004)
- Canada (1949)
- Croatia (2009)
- Czech Republic (1999)
- Denmark (1949)
- Estonia (2004)
- France (1949)
- Germany (1955)
- Greece (1952)
- Hungary (1999)
- Iceland (1949)
- Italy (1949)
- Latvia (2004)
- Lithuania (2004)
- Luxembourg (1949)
- Montenegro (2017)
- Netherlands (1949)
- North Macedonia (2020)
- Norway (1949)
- Poland (1999)
- Portugal (1949)
- Romania (2004)
- Slovakia (2004)
- Slovenia (2004)
- Spain (1982)
- Turkey (1952)
- United Kingdom (1949)
- United States (1949)
Nato began beefing up its defenses in north-eastern Europe after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014. It had around 5,000 troops and equipment stationed there, but those forces have been bolstered in recent months.
A first step now could be to activate the Nato Response Force (NRF), which can number up to 40,000 troops. A quickly deployable land brigade that is part of the NRF – made up of around 5,000 troops and run by France alongside Germany, Poland, Portugal and Spain – is already on heightened alert.
Some Nato members have also sent troops, aircraft and warships to the Black Sea region, near allies Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey.
The Pentagon has put up to 8,500 US troops on heightened alert, so they will be prepared to deploy if needed to reassure other allies.
Should President Putin move on a Nato country it will find its forces dwarfed by Nato’s combined might.
The US military alone boasts 1.4 million active personnel – 500,000 more than Russia.
Such a threat makes the possibility of President Putin attacking beyond Ukraine unlikely.