Can Britain’s military stand up to Russia? Here’s all you need to know

There is no doubt that the UK army has been shrinking over the years (Picture: AP/Getty)

For most, World War II is simply history – and if their grandparents or great-grandparents are veterans, their tales are the closest they will come – luckily – to combat.

As Britain’s top generals warned last week that the military is much ‘too small’ to handle a conflict with Russia, fears have been mounting that the state-mandated conscription will be revived.

As such, people have been faced with an existential question, ‘Would I die for my country?’

There is no doubt that the military has been shrinking over the years. Aside from available manpower, can the UK size up to Russia at all? compared the manpower, airpower, land power, naval power of the two nations for 2024, based on data from Global Firepower.

Fears have been mounting that state-mandated conscription will be revived in the UK (Picture: Getty /


Downing Street has been forced to rule out conscription, declining to debate ‘these kinds of hypothetical scenarios’.

As of October 2023, the UK Army boasts 75,983 regular full-time personnel, 4,097 Gurkhas – who have a reputation of being among the most feared soldiers in the world – 26,546 volunteer reserve personnel and 4,548 ‘other personnel’.

As per figures from Global Firepower, there are nearly 185,000 active personnel – seven times less than Russia.

Though Vladimir Putin is fighting a war on multiple fronts – mainly in Ukraine, but also holding the occupation line in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, in Georgia.

Russia has a goal to expand its army to 1.5 million by 2026.

Despite huge losses in Ukraine, Russian air power is almost unmatched (Picture: Getty /

Air power

The list of Putin’s air losses in Ukraine is long. Before 2022’s full-scale invasion, it was reported that Russia boasted roughly 900 tactical aircrafts, including fighter, attack, and fighter-bomber aircraft.

It was only in December that Ukrainian forces shot down three of Russia’s Su-34 combat jets over southern Ukraine.

Despite the huge losses – which may also have been replenished as part of a deal with North Korea last year – its total air power stands at 4,255.

This puts Russia in the second place after the US for this arsenal, while the UK is ranked at 15th with a mere 664 aircrafts.

The side-by-side comparison provides a theoretical look at war footing (Picture: Getty /

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Land power

With only 213 tanks, the UK sits in 55th place in the world, ranking behind other Nato members like Germany, Spain, Poland and Romania.

Leaving the numbers speak for themselves, Russia currently ranks number one.

Though this may change considering the daily losses on the frontline in Ukraine, it is undeniable the power that Putin holds with his arsenal.

In addition, Russia owns just over 161,000 armoured vehicles, 6,208 self-propelled artillery, 8,356 towed artillery and 3.065 mobile rocket projectors.

Britain has for decades ben famous for its naval power (Picture: Getty /

Naval power

As Yemen’s Houthis are disrupting global shipping in the Red Sea over Israel’s war in Gaza, the UK has been forced to step back into its old role as a naval power.

The Royal Navy ranks 31st in fleet strength, second in the number of aircraft carriers and 11th in the number of submarines.

Meanwhile, Russia is standing strong in the top spot for fleet strength and number of submarines.

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