degrauwe4ALEXEY NIKOLSKYSputnikAFP via Getty Images_putin economy ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Russia Is Too Small to Win

Russia's economy is one-tenth the size of the European Union's, and its military budget is just 8% of America's. That is not nearly enough to win a war against a country that is fighting Russian forces tooth and nail, let alone to occupy that country – and face a determined insurgency – for an indefinite period.

LONDON – Looking at a map, Russia, sprawling across 11 time zones, might seem destined to crush its much smaller neighbor, Ukraine. But, as the world has seen over the last three weeks, the fight is not nearly as lopsided as Russian President Vladimir Putin probably assumed it would be. In fact, there is good reason to think that, in the end, Russia will lose the war Putin has unleashed.

This is largely because, from an economic perspective, Russia is not a big country at all. According to the International Monetary Fund, the country’s GDP amounted to $1.7 trillion in 2021. That is barely 10% of the European Union’s GDP, or roughly the combined output of Belgium ($620 billion) and the Netherlands ($1.1 trillion).

With such a small economy, Russia is hardly equipped to win a war against a country that is fighting its forces tooth and nail, let alone to occupy that country – and face a determined insurgency – for an extended period. Russia today spends some $62 billion annually (about 4% of its GDP) on its military. That’s just 8% of what the United States spends – and not nearly enough to sustain an intense and protracted war effort.

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