World War 3: EU v Russia – Who has the most powerful army if conflict breaks out?

Last week highly regarded British general, Sir Mike Jackson, warned that Vladimir Putin was plotting to “rebuild” the Soviet Union.

In a shock warning, it was also revealed last week that the Russian President is trying to distract the world through the hacking scandals but also to sow seeds of discontent, to help him seize foreign territory in a similar way to the annexation of the Crimea in 2014.

Jack Barsky, who spied on the US during the 1980s, told the country’s successors to the KGB were still using the old tactics of “active measures” in an attempt to influence foreign affairs in the Russian interest.

Russia’s actions have led to a stark warning from Theresa May to her counterpart Mr Putin.

Speaking at a dinner last Tuesday she said: “We know what you are doing and you will not succeed because you underestimate the resilience of our democracies, the enduring attraction of free and open societies and the commitment of Western nations to the alliances that bind us.

So, if there was a war between the nations of Western Europe and Russia, who has a more powerful military?


The former Soviet Union’s armed forces consist of 798,527 active personnel and also has a total of 2,572,500 personnel in reserve.

In total it has a defence budget of more than £33bn, making it the fourth largest in the world, behind the US, China, and the UK.

The second country to develop nuclear weapons, Russia has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world with a total of 7,000 warheads.

Mr Putin also has access to a total of 351 naval assets, including 63 submarines.

European Union

It is harder to work out an exact total of military personnel available in the EU, who would be likely to be allies in an outbreak of war, due to the sheer number of countries.

However, they certainly have more military personnel than Russia.

Combining France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Greece and Spain, would give Western Europe a combined force of 969,000 full time soldiers.

Meanwhile, the combined spending on defence between the six countries is more than £130bn.

However, only the UK and France have nuclear weapons in the EU, consisting of 515 between them.

The countries have access to a total of 579 naval assets, including 48 submarines.


If Russia and the EU go head-to-head in a conflict, the latter clearly has the larger military force.

Russia also has the largest area of land to defend, commanding the largest land mass in the world, bordering both Finland and North Korea.

In total it has a landmass of more than 17million kilometres.

In contrast, Western Europe’s landmass covers fewer than 5million kilometres.

However, Russia possess more than ten times the nuclear weaponry of the EU, if total war broke out between the two it is likely that Mr Putin would be in the ascendency.