Russian Military Capability in a Ten-Year Perspective – 2016


  • Gudrun Persson
  • Jakob Hedenskog
  • Tomas Malmlöf
  • Johan Norberg
  • Susanne Oxenstierna
  • Roger Roffey
  • Carolina Vendil Pallin
  • Fredrik Westerlund

Publish date: 2017-01-25

Report number: FOI-R--4367--SE

Pages: 209

Written in: Swedish


  • air force
  • air defence
  • armed forces
  • defence industry
  • domestic policy
  • exercises
  • equipment
  • foreign policy
  • ground forces
  • military capability
  • military doctrine
  • military expenditure
  • military thinking
  • national security strategy
  • naval forces
  • nuclear weapons
  • procurement
  • security policy
  • Putin
  • R&D
  • Russia
  • Shoigu
  • State Armament Programme


The Russian Armed Forces are developing from a force primarily designed for handling internal disorder and conflicts in the area of the former Soviet Union towards a structure configured for large-scale operations also beyond that area. The Armed Forces can defend Russia from foreign aggression in 2016 better than they could in 2013. They are a stronger instrument of coercion than before. This report analyses Russian military capability in a ten-year perspective. It is the eighth edition. A change in this report compared with the previous edition is that a basic assumption has been altered. In 2013, we assessed fighting power under the assumption that Russia was responding to an emerging threat with little or no time to prepare operations. In view of recent events, we now estimate available assets for military operations in situations when Russia initiates the use of armed force. The fighting power of the Russian Armed Forces is studied. Fighting power means the available military assets for three overall missions: operational-strategic joint inter-service combat operations (JISCOs), stand-off warfare and strategic deterrence. The potential order of battle is estimated for these three missions, i.e. what military forces Russia is able to generate and deploy in 2016. The fighting power of Russia's Armed Forces has continued to increase - primarily west of the Urals. Russian military strategic theorists are devoting much thought not only to military force, but also to all kinds of other - non-military - means. The trend in security policy continues to be based on anti-Americanism, patriotism and authoritarianism at home. Future generations are being trained into a patriotic spirit, and there is a wide array of different school and youth organizations with a mission to instil military-patriotic values in the younger generations. Opportunities to change the policy to a more Western-friendly approach have diminished. This will be the situation Russia finds itself in whether Vladimir Putin continues as a president or not. The share of military expenditure in Russian GDP has increased from 3.6 per cent in 2005 to 5.4 per cent in 2015. This 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.