Could America Invade Russia? We Find Out

Tensions between America and Russia are their worst since the end of the Cold War. With Russia threatening NATO members in eastern Europe and the US stationing increasingly more troops near to Russia, the posibility of escalation is real. But what if America took pre-emptive action? What if the US saw Russia as such a threat they attacked? Is America actually strong enough to invade Russia?

America could invade Russia and likely has the military strength to defeat the Russian armed forces. However, the US would probably be unable to occupy Russia due to its huge size, large population and the level of resistance an occupation would face. An American invasion of Russia is also incredibly unlikely.

Now we’ve had an overview, let’s look at the possible, albeit unlikely, reasons why the US would invade Russia, and how an attack on Russia by America would likely play out…

Why Would America Invade Russia?

An American invasion of Russia is extremely unlikely. Not only would there need to be cause for an all-out war between the two nations for an invasion to take place, but that war would need to so large in scale that the US thought it strategically necessary to launch a full invasion. With that said, let’s look at the unlikely reasons why the US might invade Russia. These include:

  • Russian attack on NATO
  • Direct attack against America
  • American involvement in a Russian civil war

Now, let’s go over these in a bit more detail…

Russian Attack on NATO

The first reason America might invade Russia would be if Russia attacked a NATO member state. The NATO alliance calls for all nations to come to the defense of any member that is attacked. A full scale Russian offensive, say against the Baltic states, could lead to all-out war with America. If this war escalated, then it is conceivable, but unlikely, that America could invade Russia.

Direct Attack Against America

The second reason why the US could possibly invade Russia would be if Russia launched an attack directly against America. This is also very unlikely, but If Russia attacked America, especially the mainland US, with an assault large enough to kill significant numbers of American civilians or military personnel, then a war could break-out between the two countries. Again, if this war escalated, the US could launch an invasion of Russia.

American Involvement in a Russian Civil War

A final scenario that could possibly see US troops incur into Russia would be if the political context within Russia broke-down and a deployment of American troops was needed to secure the situation. Again, it’s unlikely but if Russia collapsed or civil war broke-out, the US could deploy troops, probably as part of an international force, to secure strategically important locations and to try and bring an end of the crisis.

Is The US Military Strong Enough To Invade Russia?

So, now we know the possible reasons why America could launch an invasion of Russia. All are extremely unlikely. Now, let’s take a quick look whether America actually has the ability to conquer Russia. America does have the military capabilities to invade Russia. However, occupying the country and gaining control of all of Russia would be nearly impossible.

There are several factors America would need to consider when deciding to invade Russia. These include:

  • Defeat of the Russian armed forces
  • Geographical size of Russia
  • Russia’s population size
  • Cost of a US invasion

Let’s look at each of these in some detail…

Defeat of the Russian Armed Forces

In order to invade Russia, America would need to defeat the Russian armed forces. Russia currently has over 1 million active soldiers and 2 million reservists. The US army has more active soldiers, at 1.3 million, but they have less reservists with a total just over 800,000. The size of these armies clashing would result in enormous numbers of casualties on both sides. The US army is perhaps more technological advanced; however Russia is a major arms developer. It is likely America could defeat the Russian armed forces, but it would be an extensive and costly fight.

Geographical Size of Russia

Russia is absolutely vast, almost twice the size of the United States itself. This means the US would need huge numbers of troops to occupy the whole country. America has 1.3 million personnel in their armed forces. It would need to redeploy forces from almost everywhere else in the world they are stationed in order to launch an invasion of Russia and even then, it would probably not be able to occupy the entire country.

Russia’s Population Size

The population of Russia is currently 144 million. It is likely if the US invaded that much of this population would be mobilized to resist. This would make any invasion of Russia extremely costly for the Americans.

Cost of A US Invasion

An invasion of Russia would be extremely expensive. The US would need to commit hundreds of millions of dollars per day in order to fund a full invasion. America has this financial mite, but it would significantly reduce America’s ability to fund almost anything else militarily.

Overall, if America was fully dedicated to an invasion of Russia and was willing to commit almost all its armed forces, it probably does have the capabilities to attack and win. However, any invasion and following occupation would be extremely costly, both in money and lives.

What Would Happen If America Tried to Conquer Russia?

Ok, so we’ve looked at what events could potentially lead to an America invasion of Russia, and whether the US could launch an invasion. Now, let’s look at what an actual American invasion of Russia might look like.

An American invasion of Russia would involve extensive fighting between US and Russian troops. It would also be a huge military undertaking by the US involving an enormous mobilization of resources. A US invasion of Russia would also almost certainly pull in other countries, creating a wider conflict.

The scale of the fighting between Russian and US troops if America attacked would be on an almost unprecedented scale. Hundreds of thousands of combatants would be killed on both sides. It is likely large numbers of Russian civilians would also be killed. Even if America didn’t use nuclear weapons, the scale of death and destruction would be on scale not seen since World War Two.

The US would need to mobilize almost its entire armed forces if it launched a full-scale invasion of Russia. The US currently has troops based in over 80 countries. If they attacked Russia with the aim of conquering the country, America would need to pull these troops out of their bases around the world and commit them to the invasion. This would leave an enormous security vacuum in many other parts of the world, potentially resulting in other conflicts.

Russia is a member of Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Essentially this is the Russian NATO – meaning it is a security pact where nations have agreed to defend each other. If Russia was invaded, it is almost certain that troops from countries such as Belarus, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan would join the fight. This would further escalate the conflict. America may call on its allies in NATO to assist, but they would only join if America or another NATO country had been attacked.

Essentially, a US invasion of Russia would result in a huge number of deaths and untold destruction. It would likely involve the commitment of almost all of America’s military forces and the conflict would almost certainly pull in neighbouring countries. Really, a US invasion of Russia would either begin, or be part of, World War Three.

Has America Ever Invaded Russia?

Although any future attack on Russia by the US is extremely unlikely, in fact the US has previously planned and actually deployed troops into Russia. Let’s look at some historical context of America’s military involvement in Russia.  

American troops were involved in the Russian Civil War and this is the only time US soldiers have fought in Russia. The United States has never fully invaded Russia and its involvement in the civil war was limited in scale.

The Russian Civil War was fought from 1917 to 1922. It came after the Russian Revolution and saw the Communist Red Army fight against anti-communists and monarchist forces – known as the Whites. An international military intervention was launched to support the White forces which saw 5,000 troops from America deployed to Russia. This is the only time in history American’s have fought Russians on Russian soil. Ultimately, the anti-communists were defeated and the international forces withdrew. A total of 596 American were killed fighting in the Russian Civil War.

The Cold War was an global struggle between Communism and Capitalism that saw ideological blocks form around America and the Soviet Union. Although the Cold War saw many proxy conflicts between the two ideological groups, direct fighting between the American and Russian troops never broke-out.

Although the Cold War never saw direct attacks on Russia, there were instances of US spy planes being shot down over Russia, and America did draw-up full plans for an invasion of the USSR. However, thankfully, there were no instances of direct fighting between American and Soviet troops, and the conflict never escalated to all-out war between the two.

Global Affairs Explained

Global Affairs Explained is an ongoing project aiming to provide concise guides to world events. Focusing on international relations, history, and geo-politics, Global Affairs Explained uses original research and data to answer questions often not covered by traditional media.

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