As the war in Georgia has recently shown, a resurgent Russia is one of the most powerful nations on earth, in terms of both military power and influence. Completely dependent on Russian fuel, Europe is at the mercy of Putin.
The EU is often described as toothless, weak and spineless, so I thought it would be interesting just to see what the military might of the EU is. Although it has no formal army the EU is made up of some of the world’s foremost powers and could be forced to act if say Russia took the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in Georgia, or cut off supplies to Europe.
The EU as a single entity would be the richest nation on earth but even individually the nations that make up the EU are well off. France has the largest defence budget in the EU and the second largest in the world, some £39 billion; Russia has a budget of just £24 billion. In fact all of the EU’s big three nations, France, Britain (£36 billion) and Germany (£24.2 billion) spend more on defence each year than Russia. Even China spends more on defence each year than its former comrade with £31 billion.
The combined EU defence budget is £165 billion, the second largest in the world, after of course the US, which spends an incredible £308 billion a year on defence and accounts for almost half of the world’s combined defence budget.
The EU big four would make up the bulk of any EU force. In terms of manpower France once again leads the way with a total of 750,000 men, including reserves; Germany, 700,000; Italy, 600,000; Britain, 440,000. A combined EU force would number 7.2 million men, including reserves but without reserves that number would be just 2.2 million active service personnel.
Russia has 1.2 million active service personnel, the US 1.6 million. China is the only country able to field more men that the EU, at 2.3 million.
As Sun Tzu said:
“In war, numbers alone confer no advantage.”
There has never been more true than in modern warfare. Russia has a staggering amount of equipment, and would certainly be high on anyone’s ‘nations not to fuck with’ list. Russia has a whopping 25,000 tanks, 2000 fighter aircraft and still has a formidable navy, 2 aircraft carriers, over 100 warships and about 85 submarines.
In comparison France has about 1000 tanks, 300 fighter aircraft, 1 aircraft carrier, 30 warships and 10 subs. Altogether though, the EU has over 8000 tanks, 2500 fighter aircraft, 8 aircraft carriers, about 200 warships and about 80 subs.
The USA has 8000 tanks, 2500 fighter aircraft, an incredible 12 aircraft carriers (which is more than Russia, the EU and China combined), over 150 warships and about 80 subs.
Far from being a toothless tiger, the EU certainly has the military might for a direct confrontation with Russia, or anyone else for that matter, but there is one area where the EU dominates all other nations.
The number of bureaucrats in the EU, including the EU and domestic ones, must run into the millions and this is the Achilles heel of the EU.
Were Russia to take control of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in Georgia and cut off the fuel supplies to Europe, the citizens of the EU would have frozen to death or died of starvation long before the bureaucrats had reached any consensus on a plan of action.
The conflict in Georgia has shown who really holds all the cards on this side of the Atlantic. Sarkozy may believe that he negociated a ceasefire, but in reality Russia had made its point. A quarter of Georgia is now in the hands of the Russian army, it is unlikely they will ever be returned.
I am sure that in the next few weeks and months, Georgia and the Ukraine will renounce any plans to join either the EU or NATO.