Where is Russia? Here's where Russia is, size of Russia's military, allies and losses so far
With Russian forces in Ukraine continuing to face a fierce backlash from the Ukrainian military and civilians fighting on the front lines in major cities such as Kyiv and Kharkiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned Western allies that Monday will be a critical moment in the ongoing conflict.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to heighten fears of further conflict escalation by placing Russian nuclear operators on ‘high alert’, with Belarus also agreeing to allow its ally to place some of its nuclear arsenal in Belarus.
This comes after Russian military forces are said to have taken a far greater hit than expected so far – with Ukraine’s confidence in its own forces, backed by increased weapons and support from NATO countries, helping to empower those on the home front.
But as Ukraine calls on Russia for a ceasefire and President Putin considers his next steps, here’s what you need to know about Russia, where it is, the size of its military and its losses so far.
Where is Russia?
As the world’s largest country by area, Russia is a transcontinental state which spans the continents of both Europe and Asia – stretching from eastern Europe to northern Asia.
Russia spans some 17 million kilometres squared – a hefty contrast to the United States’ 9.83million km squared and China’s 9.6million km squared.
The country was formerly the central republic force in the Soviet Union, or Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), but Russia became the independent Russian federation when the culmination of the Cold War in December 1991 saw the official end of the Soviet Union.
Which countries border Russia – and who are its allies?
Given its considerable land mass and span across two large continents, it’s no surprise that Russia shares its borders with a number of countries – many of which previously formed part of the Soviet Union.
As well as sharing its north border with the Arctic Ocean and Barents, Kara, Laptev, East‑Siberian and White Seas, Russia is also flanked by several other seas, with the Baltic Sea to its west, the Black Sea at its south and the North Pacific Ocean to the east.
In an anti-clockwise direction, Russia borders Norway and Finland to the north, Estonia, Latvia, Belarus and Ukraine to the north west and west, Poland, Lithuania, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China and North Korea across its southern borders.
Many of these countries, particularly Belarus, China and Kazakhstan, have historically been allies of Russia – with Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Syria, Tajikistan and India also considered to be aligned with Russia through economic unions like the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and along military and economic lines.
However, several of Russia’s closest allies have refused to condone President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, with China notably abstaining in the United Nations failed motion to condemn Russia and President Xi Jinping urging diplomacy between the two countries.
How big is Russia’s military?
Russia boasts one of the largest armies on the planet – with its military count prior to invading Ukraine standing at approximately 900,000 active personnel, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ (IISS) Military Balance 2022 report.
It is believed to have roughly two million reserve personnel, in contrast to Ukraine’s 900,000 – yet Ukraine looks to have largely increased its former military headcount with the conscription of Ukrainian men aged 18-60 and volunteers flooding in from local areas and nearby countries.
The 2022 IISS report also estimated that Russian forces contained almost 16,000 armoured military vehicles, 1,391 aircraft, 948 helicopters and a spending budget of $45billion to Ukraine’s $4.7bn.
Estimated Russian military losses in Ukraine so far
The absolute losses of the war so far have not yet been officially determined, but the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence published initial estimates for Russia’s losses on Monday morning (February 28) as delegations headed to talks on the Ukraine-Belarus border.
The Ministry of Defence’s estimates, outlined by Deputy Minister Anna Malyar on Facebook, suggested the loss of 29 aircrafts and 29 helicopters, 198 tanks, 846 armoured combat vehicles, 21 multiple launch rocket system grad and almost 6,000 military personnel from February 24 to March 1.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson told the Press Association that the Prime Minister opened Monday’s Cabinet meeting by informing attendees that Russian troops were encountering “logistical problems”.
"It is becoming clearer with each day that Putin had made a colossal mistake believing that the guns of his tanks would be garlanded with roses when instead the Ukrainian people had put up a fierce resistance in defence of their homeland,” Mr Johnson said.
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