The Second Power in the World: Barack Obama Changes Opinion on the Russian Army

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Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ

19th February, 2016


The results of the Russian army operation in Syria suggests that Russia has effective weaponry, and can withstand serious threats. Even the U.S. President Barack Obama had to admit this.

At a press conference in California, he said that the army of Russia is the “second largest in the world.”

“Of course, the Russia’s Armed forces are one of the strongest. And it is obvious that a handful of rebels cannot compete with the equipment of the second most powerful army of the world,” Obama said to journalists, commenting on the progress of the anti-terrorist operation in Syria.

Regional power

Interestingly, earlier Obama called Russia a “regional power”, a power which, according to him, extends only to its immediate borders.

The President of Russia Vladimir Putin in an interview to German journalists said that Russia is not a superpower, because the title “is expensive and useless”. However, he stressed that it would be wrong to call Russia a regional power, because it is unclear then what the region in this case should include as it is such an extensive country, bordering with Europe and with Asia, and North America.

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The new world order

In November last year, the Pentagon chief Ashton Carter said that the rapidly developing Russia and China challenge the U.S, providing leadership in establishing a world order.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, for its part, believes that while Washington led a local war, Moscow and Beijing increased its military power, and this growth was greater than predicted by the American strategists. “In 13 years of US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military potential of Russia and China has increased faster than we expected,” said Work.

“We are trying to make Russia and China our partners in the global international order. <…> We don’t want to fight with them. The key issues that face us, — what are their goals, what could hold them back and how can we avoid slipping into crisis”, — said the Deputy Minister of defence of the USA.

The campaign of the Russian Federation in Syria

Military officials of the USA were surprised to discover that Russia promptly responded to the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to help in the fight against is militants. The commander of the US ground forces in Europe, General Ben Hodges, was amazed at the ability of the Armed forces to be rapidly deployed.

“The thing that most bothers me, is the ability of the Russian military to quickly move a large number of troops. The lack of U.S. intelligence and system alerts during their deployment is not the best combination,” said Hodges. He also admitted that whilst watching over Russia’s actions in Syria, he was impressed that the armed forces were able to arrive in another country and to launch a military operation.

New weapons

In December 2015, a Russian submarine fired on the positions of ISIS in Syria. “For the first time since being in the Mediterranean, the submarine “Rostov-on-don” conducted a launch from an underwater position  using cruise missiles “Kalibr”. The feature of the attack was a salvo launch from an underwater position using the torpedo tubes of the submarine”, — said the representative of the Defense Ministry Konashenkov.

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