As Russia carries out bombing runs in Syria despite a ceasefire and intimidates NATO throughout the Baltics and the Northern Atlantic, the country has once again become a focus of Western defence officials.
Russia’s pursuit of proxy wars and intimidation has raised the prospect of a return to another Cold War between Moscow and the West. But, unlike during the Cold War and despite Russia’s military modernisation attempts, the Kremlin’s military might remains deeply inferior to that of the former Soviet Union.
This inferiority is perfectly captured by a graphic from Louis Martin-Vézian of Contemporary Issues and Geography. In the graphic, CI Geography compares the size of the Soviet fleet in 1990 to the Russian fleet in 2015.
And the results do not speak well for Russia (an even larger version of the graphic can be found here):
In 2015, Russia’s total naval fleet size, including submarines and surface ships, numbered at 172 ships total. In comparison, the Soviet’s navy measured at a total of 657 total ships in 1990.
This sharp drawdown in size is due to a number of factors. Firstly, a number of the ships after the collapse of the Soviet Union simply passed into the control of the various eastern European client states that comprised the union.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian economy fell into shambles. This caused a number of ships to fall into disrepair and for Moscow to cease production of new ships.
However, Russia has been making gains recently in increasing its naval capabilities. Among the investments Russia has made is a major push to revitalize its submarine fleet.
Physical and high-definition copies of graphics from CI Geography can be purchased through the group’s Kickstarter.
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