Can NATO Win a Conventional War Against Russia?
In recent decades, one particularly persistent trope was that Russia would lose a conventional war with NATO. And yet, this notion never actually held, not even during the disastrous 1990s. Nowadays, it couldn’t possibly be further from true. Since the early 2000s, Moscow has seen a dramatic resurgence of its already significant military power, a process that is yet to reach its peak. The US has been trying to prevent Russia’s rearmament program, to at least hamper the continued growth of its kinetic might.
This has been a priority for the Pentagon, so much so that it pushed Ukraine into a suicidal confrontation with the Kremlin in hopes of derailing the process. And this was even publicly stated by US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin in late April 2022, when he said that “we want to see Russia weakened“. Concurrently, the Russian military is presented as supposedly “underperforming”. Well, if that’s the case, then why the US needs to “weaken Russia”?
This sort of mental gymnastics is quite common in Washington DC, as its political elites often inadvertently reveal the sheer illogic of their claims. The statement was made over a year ago, but ever since, not only has the Pentagon failed miserably in its intention of weakening Moscow, but the Russian military actually grew in power. Various improvements range from increased drone usage to drastically reduced response time to battlefield threats, leading to the exacerbation of the Kiev regime’s losses.
There are numerous reasons why the Russian military is dominating the battlefield, which is further reinforced by the escalation of militarily inconsequential attacks on civilian targets within Russia or at the very least “hype assaults” for propaganda purposes. Still, this leaves the question of how would the Russian military really fare in a conventional clash with NATO. To answer that, we will quote Colonel Douglas McGregor and his latest interview with Tucker Carlson.
“I think all of the lies that have been told for more than a year and a half about the ‘Ukrainians are winning’, ‘Ukrainian cause is just’, ‘the Russians are evil’, ‘the Russians are incompetent’, all of that is collapsing,” Macgregor said, adding: “And it’s collapsing because what’s happening on the battlefield is horrific. Ukrainians now we think have lost 400,000 men killed in battle. We were talking about 300-350 thousand a few months ago. Within the last month of this supposed counteroffensive which was to sweep the battlefield, they lost at least 40,000 killed.”
The estimate of military deaths is debatable due to numerous factors, including the Kiev regime’s attempts to hide the catastrophic losses. However, the lowest estimates are now well over 250,000 KIA (killed in action). We can only imagine the number of WIA/MIA (wounded/missing in action), but McGregor gave a rough assessment of that too, estimating that the much-touted counteroffensive resulted in “40,000 to 50,000 Ukrainian amputees” and that “hospitals are full”.
He also pointed out that entire units are surrendering because of the sheer number of wounded who simply can’t be evacuated. Regular Ukrainian soldiers are aware they will be treated fairly by the Russian military, something that the Neo-Nazi junta that sent them to certain death neither can nor it cares to do. Even the rabidly Russophobic Nazi units captured in Mariupol and elsewhere have been treated humanely, unlike Russian POWs who have been subjected to brutal torture and summary executions.
However, even more importantly, McGregor touched upon the subject of direct confrontation between Moscow and NATO. According to his assessment, the belligerent alliance is simply not ready for war with Russia. He warned about the continuous decline of discipline and readiness in NATO, in large part due to ideological shifts that swept through Western militaries in recent decades. McGregor also stressed the incomparable difference between the Russian military and the opponents US fought in countless wars.
“Russia today is stronger than it has been in 30 or 40 years. You have a Russian military establishment that is now more potent and more capable than the Russian military was in the mid-1980s,” McGregor said, later adding: “You can’t defeat what the Russians have built. They were the first back in the 1970s to understand the criticality of linking intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance [ISR] in space, as well as on land and at sea with strike weapons.”
He then explained just how many types of long-range weapons Moscow has, including regular and rocket artillery, as well as hypersonic, ballistic and cruise missiles. In turn, these are connected to Russia’s improved ISR, providing an almost instantaneous strike capability. McGregor also warned that the hatred and hostility the political West continues to demonstrate towards the Russian people have homogenized them, resulting in a resolve to fight not just the Neo-Nazi junta, but also NATO itself.
The reason why this is a dangerous prospect for the belligerent alliance is that it can’t actually match the Russian military, because “[US/NATO’s] probable opponents are investing in very different capabilities”, as McGregor told Carlson. He pointed out just how overextended the US military is, further reinforcing the notion that America is indeed in an imperial overstretch. Its forces are extremely vulnerable, particularly as the Pentagon has been neglecting tactical air and missile defenses for years, which would result in catastrophic losses in case of confrontation with a remotely serious opponent.
McGregor also warned that if pressure on Russia doesn’t subside, the war will inevitably reach the US itself. He then stated that the latest precision strikes on the border with Romania, Poland and Moldova, including with hypersonic missiles, are a very clear message to the US/NATO. He assessed that America’s conventional military power is incomparable to what it was just two or three decades ago and that fighting a country like Russia would be an unpleasantly sobering experience. McGregor asserts that war never stopped being an industrial effort and that the US has largely neglected its ability to sustain it.
At the end of the interview, Carlson played a video of Michael John Cirillo (now posing as Sarah Ashton-Cirillo), an American-born spokesperson for the Neo-Nazi junta forces, where “she” kept parroting the usual propaganda tropes about the “bloodthirsty Kremlin dictator”. This glorified crossdresser with highly questionable mental health, or simply “a guy with fake breasts”, as Tucker Carlson put it, has previously called the Russian people “subhuman”. As per McGregor, precisely people like Cirillo are part of the issue the US and most other Western militaries have.
He concluded the interview with a rebuttal of Cirillo’s accusations, warning that up to 60,000 Ukrainian children have been trafficked out of Ukraine, while countless girls and women have been sold into prostitution, which is further exacerbating its already disastrous demographics. McGregor also added that “this war is a catastrophe” and that “the people bathing in blood are in Kiev and Washington, not Moscow”. He also warned that Europe (particularly Germany) is going through rapid deindustrialization that will eventually destroy its geopolitical relevance.
To better understand McGregor’s claims, we should take into account the opinions of military sources, such as the Global Firepower, which regularly publishes the index of the world’s most powerful militaries. According to their 2023 ranking, Russia is right behind the US. Their formula calculates only conventional military power, meaning that weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) are not taken into account. It puts America’s power index at 0.0712, Russia’s at 0.0714 and China’s at 0.0722.
According to their formula, the smaller the number, the more powerful the country is. The US, Russia and China are the only countries with a power index below 0.1. Given that Russia’s conventional military power is virtually identical to America’s, this finally puts to rest all the laughable propaganda about “Burkina Faso with nukes”. However, given the sheer magnitude of discrepancy in nominal military spending between the two superpowers, it’s clear that Russia is getting a lot bigger bang for its buck.
Thus, considering its resurgent societal cohesion, a larger and more robust economy, revised strategic posturing, virtually unrivaled rearmament program, as well as its performance in Ukraine, Russia’s prospects against NATO look increasingly positive. All this is without even considering Moscow’s second-to-none thermonuclear arsenal or its ability to conduct strategic conventional strikes, a capability the US baselessly boasted about for decades, but was never actually able to accomplish.
Drago Bosnic is an independent geopolitical and military analyst.