Depending, of course, on how you define “war.”
Despite fears (or boasts) that Russian President Putin would (a) declare victory in Ukraine (b) declare war against Ukraine, (c) declare war against NATO, or (d) all of the above, for 9 May 2022, the 77th Victory [in Europe] Day, he did not do so. Nor did he threaten the world with nuclear annihilation.
Why? He may be angry, but he isn’t stupid! Perhaps because despite the western mainstream media’s screams, and the propaganda spread by most western governments, Russia is not losing its war in Ukraine. Perhaps because Putin is NOT the dictator he is painted – and also not the ailing madman on the verge of collapse either. Nor is he (or Russians in general) crazy. Nor ideologically driven as much of the West, including those in power in DC, seem to be. Perhaps (gasp!) the Russians may not be a bunch of homocidal, evil monsters who gun down tied-up prisoners and bury people alive.
Ignoring for the time being the fact that NATO is de facto at war with Russia, in the same way that the US was a de facto ally of Great Britain and France from 1914-1917 (WW1) or Great Britain from 1939-1941 (WW2) and therefore at war with Germany then, why does not Russia not want war with the US with or without NATO? The US and other NATO nations are shoveling weapons, ammo, and supplies (NOT “defensive” and “humanitarian” materials) at an amazing rate. (Even though according to many estimates by military logisticians, NOT rapidly enough to replenish Ukraine’s combat power.)
Because in an all-out war, initially at least, Russia is going to lose. Why?
Although Russia theoretically has (had, before Ukraine invasion), about 12,500 tanks, at least 3/4 of those are “reserve” panzers. So? That means they have sat untouched for thirty-plus years. Most have probably donates parts to use on the 3,000 +/- actual active tanks. So, no upgrades. Likely, all electronics have been removed (or is so antique as to be nearly useless). These motor-pool queens are mostly ONLY spare parts: you might get 1 in 3 to actually be able to be functional. At great cost.
In 2018, Russia “reactivated” some reserve tanks for an exercise: T-62s, generally equal to a US M-60: not even the M-60A1 or later upgrades. Not really sure about status of newer Russian panzers, like T-72 and T-90. Which means, as far as modern tanks, only about 3,000 are useable, and only 2,000 are anywhere close to US M-1, German Leopard IIIs, or British Challenger 2/3.
The US has 2,645 tanks in active service. BUT it has another 3,450 tanks in storage, almost certainly in MUCH better condition than the Russian reserve vehicles. AND good stocks of repair and replacement parts and a logistics system that is designed to support forces deployed on the other side of the planet.
But this isn’t a matter of how many tanks. Or how many of those are in Korea or Kansas or Germany or Belarus or Kalingrad or on the Chinese frontier. It is a matter of logistical support, training, experience, and the ability to rapidly resupply, rearm, reequip, and follow on. Here the West (NATO) is in much better condition. Enough to DEFEAT Russia.
A correspondent provided me some quick numbers. The NATO countries have about 946 million people. The annual GDP of NATO is about 42.7 Trillion dollars. But Russia and Belarus combined GDP is a mere 1.5 Trillion dollars and a total population of 157 million. In case of a shooting war between Russia and NATO, countries like China and India and Turkey (if it bolted from NATO) will probably support the Russians. They will provide many, many cheerleaders and cheering fans. Unlikely to provide guns, people, or materials. So with NATO having six times the population and twenty eight times the economy, can Russia win with being on par with tanks? That’s crazy – a lot crazier than the Russians area.
At the same time, many many people are telling me that Russia IS losing, HAS lost, and WILL lose. Against Ukraine and NATO. Their reasons are many, but are they valid?
Yes, while Russia has the 5th largest army in the world, it does NOT have massive defense spending. It is a poor nation with a half-conscript army. An army with few professional NCOs, little motivation, and less than modern equipment. And a population that is (a) dying off, and (b) includes more and more anti-Russian: a low birthrate, xenophobic, divided in many ways, and with lots of internal and “near foreign” headaches. It is corrupt (perhaps almost as much as Ukraine). Its industry is incredibly old and inefficient – it mostly exports commodities (raw materials, metals, energy fuels, grain, fertilizer, etc.).
And the Russians know this.
And they know that time is against them.
Russians are NOT stupid. But they are in desperate straits. The invasion of Ukraine was an act of desperation, racing against time and demographics and geography. Russians are willing to, and are, taking great risks. But the doom they see approaching is very real and plausible. They fear the FedGov and NATO, and their fears are based on 30+ years of reality. Vladimir Putin is NOT Uncle Joe (Stalin or Biden). He is not senile, he is not an ideological fanatic. He has an important Russian skill: he can bluff. The Soviets bluffed successfully for about 30 years, and that bluff included a willingness to use nukes and more. Putin is doing that right now.
But it is the weakness of NATO that he is depending on most: we (US and other NATO nations) are lazy, spoiled, brats. We demonstrated that in Mesopotamia (Iraq), Afghanistan, and even in the Balkans. Even if Russia loses a ground war, it can probably win the “post-war” just as did the Islamists in Iraq and Afghanistan. Honestly, we are probably losing the “pre-war” as well.