Putin boasts Russia has ‘surpassed’ US in weapons systems
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Britain and Ukraine have finalised a treaty that will enable Kyiv to seek loans from London to buy British warships and missiles. The news comes as Russia stations tens of thousands of troops at the border between the two countries, sparking fears of an invasion, according to US intelligence services.
Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, and his Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksii Yuriyovych Reznikov, said in a joint statement: “We are concerned by Russia’s military build-up and activity around the borders of Ukraine.
“Ukraine’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity is indisputable.
“Our governments have no desire to be adversarial, or seek in any way to strategically encircle or undermine the Russian Federation.”
But Russia is likely to interpret the deal as provocation, particularly as Ukraine is not a NATO member – but the intergovernmental alliance has pledged its support regardless.
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Russia has stationed some 90,000 troops close to the border of Ukraine in what many believe will be a repeat of the 2014 annexation of Crimea.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has retaliated by calling the claims “alarmist” but has not given another reason for why so many troops have been sent to the area.
It comes as Western relations with Russia deteriorate after a period of relative calm after Russia was accused of orchestrating a migrant crisis on the border between Poland and Belarus, Russia’s top ally.
Ukraine was formerly part of the Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991, and many believe taking the country under Russian control will fulfil Mr Putin’s vision of a “Greater Russia”.
How does the UK military compare with Russia?
Russia has the world’s second most powerful armed forces, according to military ranking website Global Firepower, trailing only behind the USA.
In comparison to the UK, Russia has an estimated total military personnel of 3 million – while the UK has only 275,660.
Russia’s airpower is around 5.6 times stronger than the UK’s, with a combined 4,163 aircrafts such as fighters, transports, and helicopters, whereas the UK has 733.
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Another shocking figure shows Russia has 12,950 tanks – in comparison to the UK’s 227.
The UK has 5,000 armoured vehicles under its belt according to Global Firepower – but this is little when compared against Russia’s estimated 27,000.
However, the UK boasts two aircraft carriers, whereas Russia only has one.
With other ocean-based combat vehicles such as submarines and destroyers, the UK finds itself far outranked, with Russia owning 16 destroyers and 62 submarines to the UK’s six and ten.
Since the end of the Soviet Union, Russia has continued to man its armed forces with conscripts.
Hundreds of thousands of men between 18 and 27 years old are drafted into the military each year, who serve in the army, Ministry of Internal Affairs forces, border troops, and other branches of Russia’s military arsenal.
Conscription in Russia has been heavily criticised by internal critics – as some can pay bribes to avoid doing the time.
Those who are called up to serve remain in service for 12 months – a reduction on the two-year term reduced in 2008 reforms.
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