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Russia Military - 2024


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Military and security forces

Armed Forces of the Russian Federation: Ground Troops (Sukhoputnyye Voyskia, SV), Navy (Voyenno-Morskoy Flot, VMF), Aerospace Forces (Vozdushno-Kosmicheskiye Sily, VKS); Airborne Troops (Vozdushno-Desantnyye Voyska, VDV), and Missile Troops of Strategic Purpose (Raketnyye Voyska Strategicheskogo Naznacheniya, RVSN) referred to commonly as Strategic Rocket Forces, are independent "combat arms," not subordinate to any of the three branches

Federal National Guard Troops Service of the Russian Federation (FSVNG, National Guard, Russian Guard, or Rosgvardiya)

Federal Security Services (FSB): Federal Border Guard Service (includes land and maritime forces) (2023)

note 1: the Air Force and Aerospace Defense Forces were merged into the VKS in 2015; VKS responsibilities also include launching military and dual‐use satellites, maintaining military satellites, and monitoring and defending against space threats

note 2: the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Federal Security Service, Investigative Committee, Office of the Prosecutor General, and National Guard are responsible for law enforcement; the Federal Security Service is responsible for state security, counterintelligence, and counterterrorism, as well as for fighting organized crime and corruption; the national police force, under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, is responsible for combating all crime

note 3: the National Guard was created in 2016 as an independent agency for internal/regime security, combating terrorism and narcotics trafficking, protecting important state facilities and government personnel, and supporting border security; it also participates in armed defense of the country’s territory in coordination with the Armed Forces; forces under the National Guard include the Special Purpose Mobile Units (OMON), Special Rapid Response Detachment (SOBR), and Interior Troops (VV); these troops were originally under the command of the Interior Ministry (MVD); also nominally under the National Guard’s command are the forces of Chechen Republic head Ramzan KADYROV

Military expenditures

4% of GDP (2022 est.)
4% of GDP (2021 est.)
4% of GDP (2020 est.)
3.8% of GDP (2019 est.)
3.7% of GDP (2018 est.)

Military and security service personnel strengths

prior to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, approximately 900,000 active-duty troops (350,000 Ground Troops; 40,000 Airborne Troops; 150,000 Navy; 160,000 Aerospace Forces; 70,000 Strategic Rocket Forces; approximately 20,000 special operations forces; approximately 100,000 other uniformed personnel (command and control, cyber, support, logistics, security, etc.); estimated 350,000-plus Federal National Guard Troops (2023)

note 1: in December 2022, the Russian Government announced a target level of 1.15 million total troops and subsequently announced further plans to expand the size of the armed forces to 1.5 million by 2026

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Russian Federation's military and paramilitary services are equipped with domestically produced weapons systems, although in recent years Russia has imported considerable amounts of military hardware from external suppliers such as Iran and North Korea; the Russian defense industry is capable of designing, developing, and producing a full range of advanced air, land, missile, and naval systems; Russia is the world's second largest exporter of military hardware (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-27 years of age for compulsory service for men; 18-40 for voluntary/contractual service; women and non-Russian citizens (18-30) may volunteer; men are registered for the draft at 17 years of age; 12-month service obligation (Russia offers the option of serving on a 24-month contract instead of completing a 12-month conscription period); reserve obligation for non-officers to age 50 (Russian men who have completed their compulsory service to re-enter the army up to the age of 55); enrollment in military schools from the age of 16 (2023)

note 1: in May 2022, Russia's parliament approved a law removing the upper age limit for contractual service in the military; in November 2022, President Vladimir PUTIN signed a decree allowing dual-national Russians and those with permanent residency status in foreign countries to be drafted into the army for military service

note 2: the Russian military takes on about 260,000 conscripts each year in two semi-annual drafts (Spring and Fall); as of 2021, conscripts comprised an estimated 30% of the Russian military's active duty personnel and most reserve personnel were former conscripts; in April of 2019, the Russian Government pledged its intent to end conscription as part of a decade-long effort to shift from a large, conscript-based military to a smaller, more professional force; an existing law allows for a 21-month alternative civil service for conscripts in hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities for those who view military duty as incompatible with their beliefs, but military conscription offices reportedly often broadly ignore requests for such service

note 3: as of 2020, women made up about 5% of the active-duty military

note 4: since 2015, foreigners 18-30 with a good command of Russian have been allowed to join the military on 5-year contracts and become eligible for Russian citizenship after serving 3 years; in October 2022, the Interior Ministry opened up recruitment centers for foreigners to sign a 1-year service contract with the armed forces, other troops, or military formations participating in the invasion of Ukraine with the promise of simplifying the process of obtaining Russian citizenship

Military deployments

information varies and may not reflect troops transferred to support Russian military operations in Ukraine; approximately 3,000 Armenia; approximately 2,000 Azerbaijan; up to 5,000 Belarus; up to 10,000 Georgia; approximately 500 Kyrgyzstan; approximately 1,500 Moldova (Transnistria); estimated 2,000-5,000 Syria; approximately 3-5,000 Tajikistan (2023)

note 1: in February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine with an estimated 150,000 troops, some of which were staged out of Belarus; prior to the invasion, it maintained an estimated 30,000 troops in areas of Ukraine occupied since 2014; in 2023, the Russian Government claimed to have over 650,000 troops in occupied Ukraine

note 2: as of 2023, Russia was assessed to have thousands private military contractors conducting military and security operations in Africa and the Middle East, including in Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Libya, Mali, Niger, Sudan, and Syria

Military - note

the Russian military is a mixed force of conscripts and professionals (contract servicemen) that is capable of conducting the full range of air, land, maritime, and strategic missile operations; it is also active in the areas of cyber warfare, electronic warfare, and space; in addition to protecting Russia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the military supports Moscow’s national security objectives, which include maintaining and projecting influence and power outside Russia, particularly in the former Soviet republics, and deterring perceived external threats from the US and NATO; in recent years, the Russian military has conducted combat operations in both Syria and Ukraine; in February 2022, Russia launched an unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and the military, particularly the ground forces, continues to be heavily engaged there in what is the largest war in Europe since World War II ended in 1945; Russia has occupied Ukraine’s province of Crimea and backed separatist forces in the Donbas region of Ukraine since 2014 with arms, equipment, and training, as well as special operations forces and troops, although Moscow denied their presence prior to 2022; Russia intervened in the Syrian civil war at the request of the ASAD government in September 2015 in what was Moscow’s first overseas expeditionary operation since the Soviet era; Russian assistance has included air support, arms and equipment, intelligence, military advisors, private military contractors, special operations forces, and training; it seized the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008; separately, Russia has provided military personnel and private military contractors to conduct missions in Africa, including in the Central African Republic, Libya, Mali, and Sudan 

Russian forces are organized into military districts and operational/joint strategic commands; prior to the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the Ground Troops were configured into at least 11 combined arms armies, one tank army, and four army corps, each comprised of a mixture of tank or “motorized rifle” (mechanized or motorized infantry) division and brigade structures supplemented by artillery, tactical missile, and air defense forces; the most capable ground forces are the special forces (Spetsial’noye naznacheniye or Spetsnaz) brigades and Airborne and Air Assault Troops (VDV), which are considered strategic-level assets; as of 2022, the Spetsnaz forces had eight brigades, while the VDV had four airborne and air assault divisions, plus some independent air assault and Spetsnaz brigades

the Navy conducts operations globally and has four fleets (Baltic, Black Sea, Pacific, and Northern), as well as a flotilla in the Caspian Sea; the principal surface warships are an aircraft carrier (under repair until at least 2024), four battlecruisers or cruisers, and over 20 destroyers and frigates; the backbone of the Navy is its submarine force, which has approximately 50-60 nuclear ballistic missile, nuclear cruise missile, nuclear attack-type, and conventional attack submarines; the ballistic missile submarines are an essential arm of Russia’s nuclear triad; the Navy has an aviation force with fighters, multipurpose fighters, and surface attack aircraft, as well as anti-submarine warfare and attack helicopters; it also has coastal defense forces and a ground force of several naval infantry brigades, which have been used as ground troops in Ukraine

the Aerospace Forces include as sub-branches the Air Force, the Air and Missile Defense Forces, and Space Forces; the Air and Air/Missile Defense elements are typically organized into armies, commands, bases, brigades, and regiments; the Air Forces are some of the largest in the world, and prior to the 2022 invasion of Ukraine included nearly 1,500 fighters, multirole fighters, and bombers, as well as nearly 1,500 combat helicopters

the Strategic Rocket Forces have both road-mobile and silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and are organized into three armies with 12 subordinate divisions, each further broken down into regiments

the paramilitary Russian National Guard is organized into regions or districts with subordinate divisions and brigades, which include a mix of security, special purpose, protective, and motorized units, as well as some artillery and aviation forces (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Russia on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Russia 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Russia 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.