What are the main reasons why Russia could defeat NATO in a conventional ground war?
Chris Harz, Worked for the RAND Corp., DoD, DARPA, NATo
Updated 1 year ago · Author has 439 answers and 4M answer views
In the past, I was part of many war games of NATO versus the Soviet Union. The Russian-led coalition won in essentially every war game that NATO conducted, as long as it stayed non-nuclear—and even tac nuke encounters could be problemmatic with NATO’s slow response time. They had a huge (4x plus) superiority in tanks and vehicles, which they could concentrate to get 10X at breakthrough points. They had poorer commo equipment, but spoke a common language and had much more of a common culture and situational awareness than the polyglot NATO nations. Their new equipment such as the T14 is pretty good, but even their older tanks could work if there are lots of them.
Nowadays they have much further to go to reach Germany, and their vehicles will probably not hold up to the wear and tear of the much longer travel to the combat zone unless they use rail and transporters (and they don’t have that many tank transporters).
It is true that the shape of NATO vehicles in Europe right now is sad; maintenance budgets have been robbed, and many units are doing “paper maintenance,” falsely reporting that vehicles are running when in reality they’re not. Even Germany has a low percentage of vehicles that are operational. Its Leo tanks, for instance, come in 6 different models, and there are not enough spare parts to keep them running (or budget to buy parts and train mechanics). Same with helicopters and other vehicles. Imagine the frustration of its political leader (Merkel) when she found out her military plane had broken down, and she had to take a civilian one!
The question is phrased to assume that Russia could win nowadays. It could not do so with conventional weapons, due to the distances and the many military units involved—even handheld weapons can neutralize combat vehicles nowadays. It would first have to neutralize the populations and militaries of the main NATO countries. Probably the only way to do that is with biological warfare, to make them ill and incapable for months and overwhelm all medical facilities. Cyberwarfare, to jam radio, satellite and cel transmissions (including all Internet and GPS) could also help, as was done in the Georgia conflict. Cyberwar could also lead to confusion and lack of coordination of NATO forces. Finally, Special Forces teams, perhaps wearing NATO uniforms, could be inserted to destroy strategic bridges, roads, etc. to block NATO forces.
If all those factors worked (which is unlikely), Russia might win against a select number of NATO countries.