Most of Russia’s military still ‘rubbish’ despite Ukraine, Syria deployments

October 20, 2015
Participants: Jason Fields, Mark Galeotti, Matthew Gault

To some in the West, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intervention is a comment on the failure of the United States and its allies to take control of a horrific situation. These pundits view Putin as a strongman, playing a complicated game of chess against the West … and winning.

Worse, with so many different countries, sects and factions fighting in Syria, it’s easy to see how one wrong missile could spark a greater conflict. Turkey — a member of the North Atlantic Treaty organization — has balked at recent Russian incursions into its airspace.

The annexation of Crimea, the war in eastern Ukraine and the military intervention in Syria present the image of a confident Putin willing to expend military power for political gain. The truth, according to Dr. Mark Galeotti of New York University, is far more complex.

The Russian president faces political and economic difficulties at home and Russia’s military is not as powerful as it seems. “Putin does not have significant numbers of the kind of troops you can deploy in this kind of environment,” Galeotti explained to War College.

Galeotti paints a picture of a Kremlin that’s just trying to get the West to play ball and not trying to start World War III. For Galeotti, Russia’s adventure in Syria is business as usual.

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Show links:

How to respond to Russia in Syria without starting World War III

Putin’s holiday gift is a paranoid new military doctrine

Russia’s electronic spies are hard at work in Syria

Syria’s rebels are ready to fight Russia

45 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Da problem is da rubbish works good.

Posted by Macedonian | Report as abusive

Rubbish – all I can say about this piece.

Posted by jbreb | Report as abusive

Even with their “rubbish” military, the Russians are doing more damage to ISIS in a month than the US did in a year.

Oh, wait…that’s because the US and Israel created ISIS in order to overthrow Assad. It’s not because the US Air Force is totally incompetent.

Nevertheless, a war with Russia is NOT something we want. Russia has enough nuclear ICBMs to blow the US off the map several times over. Yes, the US could return the favor, but is there anything in the Middle East worth ending the world over?

Why can’t the US in particular just mind its own business in the world? Why do we always have to carry water for Israel, invading countries or using proxy armies (like ISIS) to overthrow governments at Israel’s command?

Posted by Heretic50 | Report as abusive

Matthew, The colonial military was also “rubbish” compared to the British military…look what happened. It’s the motivation and training that matters.

Posted by ComDev | Report as abusive

Seems that Russia can do more with their “rubbish” in a few weeks than the US can in a year. The English guy in this podcast is delusional, he should be a comedian.

Posted by JustinAlias2 | Report as abusive

The only RUBBISH I see is this article ! The Russians fired 26 cruise missiles ….that made the USS Roosevelt air craft carrier flee back home from the gulf …..(the 26th US presedent was Roosevelt )

Posted by shaqqqq | Report as abusive

One day the world will have had enough of Washington’s proxy hegemonistic wars and muscle flexing and Washington will find itself alone on the world stage.

Posted by stewf | Report as abusive

Not even a hint of journalistic or even simple integrity here. Pathetic.

Posted by vare1402 | Report as abusive

The only rubbish is – articles such as these by trolls on US defense payroll, pushing their anti Russia/China agenda catering to irrelevant audience of Reuters business folks at large.

What has Reuters become?

Posted by Mottjr | Report as abusive

Crimea contained without a single casualty. Eastern Ukraine rebels held and advanced on territory against Ukrainian army supported with “modern” equipment from the west. Russian rusty navy hitting targets in Syria over 1000km away with “old” cruise missiles. Dropping “old” useless dumb bombs in Syria and causing $$$$$ damage to US “investors” in peace is priceless.
Putin is a strongman and the game of “chess” against the west is not complicated, he is checkmating every western move.

Posted by Bastage | Report as abusive

Since Russia has been bombing the anti-ISIS forces, the overall effect has been, and will continue to strengthen ISIS. The anti-Syrian rebels have been far more effective at controlling ISIS than the Syrian government forces, so Russia’s intervention has upset the balance and will strengthen the ISIS terrorists.

Posted by nixter | Report as abusive

Yes, da rubbish is making you all look like fools, which the writer of this article most likely is.

Anyhow, you try to compare the emerging Russian empire to America and how its military is the poor redneck cousin. I would argue that Russia has been exceptionally smart and is much more nimble and agile than we are. They are not bogged down with unbelievable amounts of bureaucracy which is why our leaders are constantly shocked at how quickly and secretly Moscow moves and makes things happen.

Plus your stupid , so sticks and stones :)

Posted by footlickerr | Report as abusive

I knew that headline would wake up the putin-bots. Pretty sure Reuters was hacked by these turds 3 years ago, and uses fake stories like this to invite their input and track them. Why else devote so much attention to a 3rd world country whose GDP per capita is now lower than Greece. Greece!

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

One aspect of the Russian military that is the most powerful in the world is the Russian Troll Army. And the RTA is making its presence known and “conquering” the comments section here!

Posted by NSW | Report as abusive

“…a Kremlin that’s just trying to get the West to play ball and not trying to start World War III.”

Why would Putin not want to start World War III? If that allows him to stay in power. It’s not as if he answers to the people of Russia. Remember when he came to power in 1999 he was not elected.

Posted by Manila02 | Report as abusive

Heretic50. . .Russians aren’t doing any damage to ISIS. They’re not hitting ISIS. They’re hitting other rebel groups in Syria.

Posted by maddog2 | Report as abusive

Assad visits Moscow to do laundry, have mom make him a sandwich.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

GDP per capita?

Try factoring in GDP/debt ratio with the above and see where US ends-up in relation with Russia.

Posted by Mottjr | Report as abusive

LOLz The Rusky trolls are strong yet ill informed. Get your facts right Rusky trolls. Over 7000 sorties by coalition airstrikes have destroyed over 13000 targets not including high level DEASH commanders and leaders killed. And then factor in drone strikes. Pfft Russia has done jack all! hxxp://www.defense.gov/News/Special-Repo rts/0814_Inherent-Resolve
hxxp://www.defenseone.com/threats/2015/0 5/what-have-9-months-airstrikes-against- isis-achieved/112321/

Posted by Mishrac44 | Report as abusive

Russian rubbish “works good” – really? Some reports – 40% failure rate of jet components.

US and Israel created ISIS – yeah, right. Some people will believe anything.

Russia has already won – you know, the Russians were roundly beat by guys with RPGs riding on donkeys in Afghanistan – what makes you think they’ve already won?

All fatalists – hoping for failure and comprehending nothing.

Posted by Munderwood | Report as abusive

Russia for 500 mil put 10 new Su-35 in service US trained five Rambo’s in Syria.

Posted by Macedonian | Report as abusive

Mark Galeotti has not understood the Russian psyche. He uses the word’rubbish’ to satisfy his schizophrenic ego. Russia has defeated world conquerors such as Napoleon and Hitler. In the bloody battles of Leningrad and Stalingrad, Russian ragtag and poorly fed soldiers had to face Hitler’s well trained Wehrmacht . And yet, Russians won. Communist Russia at that time was reeling under the pangs of famine. This gives us an idea that Obama’s sanctions will have no effect on Russia. If a starving nation could defeat Hitler’s Wehrmacht, Mark Galeotti is totally ignorant of the fighting spirit of Russians. Probably Galeotti’s mind may be ‘rubbish.’

Posted by AYeshuratnam | Report as abusive

rubbish article from a rubbish reuters

Posted by glytology | Report as abusive

Where Russia does lead, is in missile and aircraft design.
The recent Russian cruise missile firings were an example, a 50% greater range than a Tomahawk, but able to be fired from a much smaller ship, and less than half the price

Posted by Sinbad1 | Report as abusive

Sorry to break the news to you Mr. Gault, but Russians are far better soldiers and better at warfare than Americans are………

Posted by No_apartheid | Report as abusive

LOL, a war synopsis by someone like Matthew Gault… And what branch did ol’ Matt serve in? That’s right, non. Typical of the chicken hawk propaganda machine.

Posted by USAlikesWAR | Report as abusive

War College is worthless.

Posted by Bookfan | Report as abusive

I hope all the Russian stooges commenting here get their Kremlin paycheck on time this week. It’s so transparent. Nothing makes Russia look weaker than the need to pay for obvious propaganda commenters on utterly insignificant online posts. It’s so reliably pathetic.

“The lady doth protest too much”

Posted by EndlessIke | Report as abusive

The Russian trolls are paid in vodka. That’s why the high turnout.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

I don’t see anything in this article that supports the title, therefor I consider the article as rubbish (without the quotes).

Posted by KarimNNAss | Report as abusive

The Russian “Rubbish” rockets are the lifeline to the International Space Station!

Posted by SamHist | Report as abusive

Well, results speak for themselves. This is the weakest, most desperate attempt at misinformation I’ve seen since the balkan wars.
Speaking of which, when are we going to bring up the Rubbish SAS fighting alongside the UCK terrorists and attacking civilian convoys?
Sooner or later all will come out, real justice will be served, the world has changed. The people will lead not the manipulated medias.

Posted by PixelJunk24 | Report as abusive

I don’t think the Russian side is winning at the moment.

Posted by Slammy | Report as abusive

The U.S. has decided to pull our military forces out of the middle east conflict(s) and let the Arabs & Islamists settle their own centuries old disputes.

Posted by TarzanSkis | Report as abusive

The article was not much of anything. No substance at all.

Posted by birder | Report as abusive

You call that a serius article? or just a rubbish ?

Posted by STRAT-RU | Report as abusive

Russia is irrelevant. All the smart engineers and ambitious business people left Russia long ago.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

Business as usual is Putin lying through his teeth. Everything he says is calculated to mislead, misrepresent or distort the facts and his intentions. This makes him impossible to deal with. Therefore cold war II is back on again, until Russia is bankrupt. Putin and his kremlin yes men will destroy Russia.

Posted by tribeUS | Report as abusive

Today
Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov has warned of possible depletion of the Reserve Fund as early as in 2016.
Go Putin.

Posted by tribeUS | Report as abusive

The Russian trolls are out in force here. The only one I recognize is macedonian. I am curious, have they simply changed their names or are they new? I will submit their names for updating the Russian troll list. The trolls should be reminded that the US GDP is $17.9 trillion. Russia’s GDP has dropped from $2.3 trillion to $1.2 trillion, which is less than the state of Texas and the countries of Korea and Australia. Russia is simply a third world country with a nutcase as president.

Posted by Engineer2005 | Report as abusive

It’s not so much about the militaries. Putin and Xi Jinping have a huge advantage simply because they don’t care how many of their people will die if there’s a war with the West…

Posted by UauS | Report as abusive

FYI: Barack Obama, the Nobel Prize winner for Peace, started more bloody wars and caused more deaths, destruction and suffering than Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein and Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi all together.

Posted by RougeBaron | Report as abusive

An article that I would love to call Rubbish. What a Russophobe this guy is. This so called rubbish military has already achieved so much in just a month what the so called advanced military could not achieve in an entire year.

Posted by alinayyar | Report as abusive

And here’s what Reuters says about my comment submitted on October 20th…””Thanks for your feedback. Your post is pending approval.”

Posted by Engineer2005 | Report as abusive

The article has no stuff, which will deteriorate the Reuter news agency’s credibility

Posted by Lucianmichael | Report as abusive