Is Russia more powerful than the United States?

I know I’m opening a can of worms here and I’m just as patriotic as the next guy but think about it.

In the past 200 years Russia was invaded twice by the armies of two of the most imperialistic leaders in modern times: Napoleon and Hitler. Despite stupendous casualties and damage, Russia came out on top each time. Could America have done the same?

How about America’s recent invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq? If Russia invaded these two countries after a terrorist attack on their soil, would the results have been dramatically different?

According to this graph, Russia has had a larger nuclear weapons stockpile than the United States for over 30 years:

Would America beat Russia in a nuclear war if neither country showed any mercy whatsoever? What do you think?

Russia DID invade Afghanistan. It was a total disaster for them that ended in defeat, set in motion a chain of events that lead to a civil war, then to the Taliban, then to the U.S. invasion.

In a nuclear war there is no ‘win’.

Neither country could have won a nuclear war. Each had more than enough nukes to destroy the other and all their allies, which brings up another point. The USA had much stronger and more stable allies than the USSR.

If you measure strength purely by military power, the USA and Russia were probably about equally strong. The few times where US and Russian military clashes happened, the US came out on top. We completely thwarted the Russians by arming a native population in Afghanistan, and the Russians only partly thwarted us by arming a native population in Korea, even with some small amount of direct Russian military intervention.

Not to mention the US is a lot more powerful economically than Russia these days.In terms of GDP, the Russian Federation is ranked 8th globally with the United States of America keeping the number 1 spot.

So if America and Russia went head-to-head in a full-scale battle, who would be the likely victor and why?

Russia’s ability to withstand the Napolean/Hitler invasions were as much geographical as any other factor. The country was simply too large and too effing cold to invade successfully.

These days? What’s the casus belli? There’s no reason I can think of why the U.S. and Russian Federation would engage each other in armed conflict presently. Even the Georgia situation and gas pipeline business didn’t seem to give the U.S. great cause for alarm.

Or do you mean back in the Cold War? When specifically?

England hasn’t been invaded since 1066. By your logic, that makes it much more powerful than Russia.

The main factor that defeated Napoleon and Hitler was the fact that they were running a land invasion of Russia, which is enormous, thinly populated, and has brutal winters. Both invading armies were caught unprepared for a Russian winter; it did the bulk of the work in both cases. IIRC, Napoleon was counting on forage to feed his army, which worked fine in densely farmed areas of Europe, but not Russia. He got all the way to Moscow, only to find it empty of people and supplies. Winter descended, and they simply froze and starved and died of disease. Hitler encountered very similar problems. Lesson: never get involved in a land war in Asia.

A war between Russia and the US would not involve US troops trying to march through the country, so you can’t compare Napoleon and Hitler to that hypothetical scenario.

Let’s say that within the next few years, the shit hits the fan, disagreements erupt, one country is block off from a needed resource such as oil, and a war is started as a result. Because of mounting and unfortunate circumstances, both countries feel that they absolutely have to go to war.

Both countries know months in advance that war is necessary so they gather up the resources and personnel needed for the conflict. Neither country shows any mercy and they attack each other at every possible front. Who would be the likely victor?

Who ever had a radiation proof bunker with enough food to last the longest, but only till the food ran out.

Assuming nukes didn’t end everything, America would win because we had tanks a day’s drive away, and they had tanks a US Navy-patrolled-ocean away. How would they even get here?

[armchair general] I’d call a stalemate. Neither has the capacity to completely disable the enemies ability to fight, beyond resorting to nuclear arms (and we all know how that ends).

Depends on where the oil is. Neither country will attempt to invade the other, so warfare will take place on the contested land. Basically, if it’s driving distance from Russia, the Russians will probably win. Anywhere else, America in a walk.

By this logic, America is vastly more powerful than Russia. In the case of Napoleon, we were so far away and the prospect of victory so remote that far from invading us he sold us the Louisiana territory rather than fighting over it. And Hitler couldn’t even get transport ships across the English Channel, much less the Atlantic Ocean. American troops were marched across Europe into Germany but German troops were chased out of North Africa and never left Europe after that.

And so America defeated Napoleon without firing a shot or even harsh language, and defeated Hitler without a single German bomb falling on an American city. As Sun Tzu said, to win 100 victories in 100 battles is not the highest skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the highest skill. If the Russian winter makes Russians skilled at war, the Atlantic Ocean makes Americans 100 times more skilled.

Except wars never happen like this, not even WWII.

Did you ever investigate the reasons behind Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor?


A full scale battle would result in the incineration of both countries and likely most of Western Europe, western China, India, Pakistan, and parts of the Middle East. Billions would die in the nuclear holocaust and resulting aftermath and “The United States” and “Russia” would cease to exist.

And look, forget about it “staying conventional.” A full scale war would go nuclear. They ran this exercise a zillion times during the cold war, and it always goes nuclear once one side starts to lose.

The cockroaches would do very well.

Neither country would fare well in trying to invade and conquer the other. Two many people, too much land, too much distance between them. The United States has dramatically superior force projection than the Russians at present. The U.S. Navy has 11 Carrier Strike Groups, the Russians don’t have anything that equals even one CSG, let alone 11 of them.

Depending on the geographic location of a conflict this could be a decisive advantage for the United States. For example any conflict outside of states immediately bordering Russia, Russia has to get there somehow. Imagine a conflict in say, Western Europe. The countries of Europe are almost definitely not going to give Russia free passage through their countries or passage through their air space. If Russia would even attempt to move significant forces through the Baltic or even Mediterranean they would be absolutely destroyed by the U.S. Navy. Aerial deployment would almost certainly be the preferred method.

What would be a significant deciding factor honestly would be where exactly this theoretical war would take place an the geopolitical situation.

For example if Russia invaded China they would have the advantage of proximity, they could bring the full force of their military to bear relatively quickly. Assuming the United States assisted China in defending itself, however, the United States has the support of the entire indigenous Chinese population and the full force of the Chinese military.

We’d see a similar situation repeated with all of Russia’s neighbors. Finland or Poland may not be as powerful as China, but they have powerful allies and the local population would resist Russian occupation. Russia would be fighting multiple enemies at once.

Now, if the United States was attempting to invade one of Russia’s neighbors, then Russia would have a clear advantage. They’d have proximity and the local population on their side. But honestly modern warfare being what it is, an invader is always going to have a very difficult time. Gone are the days in which the armies met in the field and then the defeated party sued for peace and made territorial concessions.

If we are to assume a contrived “neutral battlefield” (I say contrived because it’d be very difficult for a country to be neutral to two warring powers fighting on their land) then unless this neutral battlefield was one of Russia’s neighbors it would be very difficult for Russia logistically. We have much better logistics and force projection and would probably have tactical superiority from day one.

Geography would also come into play. In desert warfare the armor battle would be key as would control of the skies which is always crucial to any pitched battle in modern warfare. I think most neutrals observers will agree that the T-72 is inferior to the Abrams, and this has been proven in battle. Most Russian military supporters will point out to the lack of several key features that plagued the performance of Iraqi T-72s and argue that in any battle between the then USSR and the United States the Abrams would have been going up against superior tanks than what they saw in Iraq. That may very well be true, but from all that I’ve seen I think if you had to pick between being in an Abrams (all three variants) and the T-72 I’d prefer to be in an Abrams. The T-90 versus the most recent iteration of the Abrams is always a hot debate on internet forums but ultimately the T-90 has never really seen any service against modern armor; to me I just can’t really speculate about something that has never been in real combat. But American tank crews have a lot of combat experience and future tank crews have that combat experience which will be drawn upon in training. The fact that the United States has been involved in so many conflicts since the fall of the USSR has given it more experience across the board.

There are a whole series of debates that is opened up in the theoretical “open-field, full pitched battle in neutral territory” scenario. How does our Air Force fare against theirs? As just one example, and that in itself would be a multi-page debate.