That Iraq '90 comparison of western-vs-russian equipment is NOT a fair cold-war comparison. That was '90s M1A1(HA)s vs. '70s T-55s, T64s, and a handfull of T-72s (The US’s M1A1 force outnumbered all of Iraq’s T-72s, and was somewhere around 1/2 to 2/3 of all of Iraq’s tanks. I could dig up a cite for that if needed, will just have to look a bit :> ). Plus the vastly overwhelming air and naval supperiority. Desert Storm caused a lot of myths and misunderstandings of modern or cold-war millitary tech (Most notably the “push-button warfare” myth).
I don’t think the Golan heights is too fair of a comparison, either, but probably closer. I don’t know as much about that encounter, though. However, I have doubts that the eastern gear was quite on-par with Israel’s gear, and in any case, it sounds like the attacking force had little artillery supporting the attack. A charging attack through only two very narrow choke-points with NO initial artillery support is pure suicide. And even in that case, the brigade(?) defending the golan heights was almost decimated in the fighting.
In a standard cold-war scenario minus any NBC weapons, it’s a tough call. The western forces generally had slightly better tech and training, while the russian forces had a vast supperiority in numbers. Individual soldiers were just about the same, with the western units having slightly better rifles but commonly with slightly less-capable AT weapons. And the russians had a supperiority in soldiers. Fortunatly for all cold-war scenarios, the focus was on a russian offensive, and in that case, soldiers are much better by-the-numbers for defence than offense.
For tanks, it’s about the same. Western tanks were bigger and tougher, with a higher crew survivability and better training, but were also slower, poorer for manuvering in muddy or unstable terrain, and much larger. They were built for defence. Russian tanks, like the T-72 and T-80, were designed from the begining for offence. Smaller, cheaper, and in much higher numbers, while still having armor quite close to their equivelant-era western tanks. They were faster, and handled poor terrain much better than western tanks, and were designed for quick fording of rivers durring an offence. Their guns were slightly less potent and shorter ranged than the western guns, thanks to deficiencies in their ammo quality controll in the factories, but were supplemented by cannon-launched missiles with ranges that exceeded the maximum range for western cannons (Up to 5.5km, while western guns of the time had fire-controll limiters to only allow shots up to 4km, though a good gunner could adjust his fire for shots beyond that, with significant loss of accuracy). And russia had significantly more tanks than NATO, again. Roughly, 3 T-80s on the offence would be the equivelent of 1 M1 (Or other western tank) on the defence. In an open-field battle, the numbers quickly approach 1:1. A T-80U-M1 is a nasty match for an M1A1(HA), despite the constant declarations of the Abrams’s invincibility.
As for artillery… The russians strongly believed in artillery (“Artillery is the god of war.”). Their artillery vastly outnumbered western artillery, so the western doctrine was to give very little artillery support directly to the units in the field durring the begining of a russian offensive, and instead use their better tech and range to conduct counter-battery fire to disrupt and/or neutralize the russian artillery.
Aircraft are about the same. Western forces had generally better tech (Though the MiG-25 or -29, and the SU-27 were incredibly nasty birds, quite on-par with western craft, the US seemed to have better support tech), while the russians had more aircraft. Same for helos. Russian helos tended to be less refined compared to western designs, but still quite potent (And some of them rivaled the best western designs of the time). To top it off, russian forces were a great believer in air mobility, beyond that of western forces. They even had light tanks (BMD) designed to be dropped by air and immediatly combat effective the moment they hit the ground.
And there’s air-defence. Russia had lots of air defence integrated in its individual millitary units, giving each unit fairly effective integrated air defence. Western doctrine specialized in a few theater-based air defences (Such as the patriot) and some protection for high-value targets, but relied almost exclusively on air supperiority for air defence.
If it’s a russian-offensive, like standard cold-war expectations, it’d be a very bitter fight, and could go either way. For the battlefield, it depends on how quick (And how long!) the US can ship units in to reinforce the NATO forces. Without the US’s continued aid, it’s most likely that the russian forces would win. Continued US aid would push it further toward the middle, but it’d be too hard to determine who would win in that case. Very close, I’d think. However, all things being even, and given just a straight conventional conflict with no external influences (Appart from the US and other allied nations’ involvement), the russian forces would probably at least take Germany. From there, it depends on how quick they can extend their supply lines, but with their strong belief in air mobility, I’d imagine that wouldn’t be too hard. My money would be on russia taking continental europe, MAYBE the british isles, and then hitting a dead-end. After a fight like that, I don’t see any way they could push their way across the atlantic and into the US, not to mention the fact that they’d have no -reason- to do so. With it being such a close call, though, I find it unlikely that russia would -want- to start an offensive like this.
For a western offensive, I don’t see any way of NATO/western forces winning. Too many russian units, all in defensive possitions, with the attacking force using units designed more for defensive warfare. Western forces would probably make significant ground advance at first, just because they can concentrate on a smaller group of land than the russian defences would be in, but the russian forces could pick at them while withdrawing faster than they can advance, and eventually tire them out and wear them down. Once that’s happened, the invaders are once again spread out and weakened, much like in the past, with long supply lines, and russia still holding most of its power base. Bye-bye invading forces, and russian soldiers could advance with much ligher resistance through europe again.