Advanced S-400 air defense missiles, modernized main battle tanks, and a powerful air force are all weapons at Moscow's disposal. Here are five of the notable weapons that Russia could employ in a major conventional war with Ukraine, the National Interest reporter Mark Episkopos writes.
Unlike Moscow’s great-power competitors, Ukraine’s Armed Forces lack the stealth and deep-penetration capabilities to overcome Russia’s layers of sophisticated missile defenses. "In particular, Crimea-based units of Russia’s flagship S-400 Triumf missile defense system pose a grave threat to military assets in eastern and central Ukraine," the author believes.
"The S-400 air-defense systems can hit any aerial targets in the central part of Ukraine. All this is a serious threat for us," National Interest cited Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov. Equipped with a powerful radar suite and diverse array of missiles, the S-400 can target manned aircraft, drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles at a range of up to 400 km.
Kiev’s small, backward, and partly decrepit roster of MiG-29, Su-24, Su-25, and Su-27 fighters cannot successfully contest Ukrainian airspace in a major conventional war with Russia. Not only will they be unable to operate effectively in light of Russian air defenses, but they are vastly outmatched by Russia’s qualitatively and quantitatively superior air force. Advanced Russian fighters, including the formidable Su-35S, handily outperform Ukrainian military aircraft and are capable of staging devastating precision ground strikes against key Ukrainian military and political infrastructure with a wide array of air-to-surface missiles.
A potential warfare may involve major battles in dense urban terrain, often prioritizing lighter and more flexible infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) over their heavier main battle tank counterparts. The BMP-3M is a heavily upgraded variant of the prolific Soviet/Russian BMP-3 IFV, boasting a new turret, additional ammunition types, new protection systems, and substantial firepower improvements.
Not only do Russia’s Ground Forces operate the world’s largest tank army at 13,000 units, but its latest MBTs offer a slew of modern upgrades that make them a force to be reckoned with. Ukraine’s T-84 Oplot-M MBT is a formidable machine in its own right, but likely has not been produced in sufficient quantities to effectively resist Russia’s capable T-90A tank and its modernized T-90M variant.
Capable of carrying fifty rounds, boasting a sustained rate of fire of around seven to eight rounds per minute, and packed with fairly advanced targeting technology, 2S19 Msta-S modernized 152.4 mm self-propelled howitzers can cover large parts of Ukraine, Episkopos concluded.