NATO vs Soviet Union – Who Would Win? Military / Army Comparison

NATO vs Soviet Union – Who Would Win? Military / Army Comparison


The year is 1989 and in just 2 years the Soviet
Union and its mighty Warsaw Pact would collapse politically, seeing an end to the Cold War
and a defacto NATO victory- but what would have happened if the Soviet Union had seen
its own coming demise and made a desperate bid to defeat NATO? The rules of this wargame will include no
use of nuclear weapons and assume that China- with simmering hostilities against the Soviet
Union- remained neutral, limiting the conflict to strictly the Soviet Union, its Warsaw Pact
allies, and NATO. Overall the Warsaw Pact enjoyed a numerological
advantage over NATO in most military categories except naval forces, with a standing force
of 6 million active-duty personnel vs NATO’s 4.5 million active-duty personnel. The Warsaw Pact also had an advantage in number
of tanks- approximately 70,000 vs NATO’s 50,000- although NATO had twice as many modern tanks:
5300, mostly American M1 Abrams, German Leopard 2s and British Challengers, vs 2600 Soviet
T-80s. NATO tanks had better computers and sensors,
which would have made them lethal in nighttime fighting- but sheer numbers would have been
on the Warsaw Pact’s side, with the bulk of its forces being made up of older T-80B, T-72B
and T-64B models which still had the punch to knock out even a modern NATO tank. The largest advantage enjoyed by the Warsaw
Pact was in the realm of artillery, with over 45,000 artillery pieces vs NATO’s 18,000. Though NATO’s forces were on the whole technologically
superior to the Warsaw Pact’s, the overwhelming amount of artillery on the communist’s side
would have severely blunted that advantage via fire suppression alone. In the air, the Warsaw Pact also outnumbered
NATO, with 14,000 planes vs NATO’s 11,000. NATO however fielded far more modern planes,
enjoyed better missile technology, and pilots had an order of magnitude more training flight
hours per year- 180 hours vs 120 hours or less. The Warsaw Pact countered these advantages
with a huge deployment of ground-based SAM batteries- as seen in wars of the period from
Vietnam to conflicts vs Israel, Soviet anti-air missile systems enjoyed an average kill rate
of 3-5%, which while not great, the sheer number of SAM systems employed by the Warsaw
Pact, about 1,400, would have posed a significant challenge to NATO air forces. So how would a potential war have played out? Despite its firepower advantages, the Soviet
Union and allies knew that they would never win in a protracted war of attrition vs NATO,
who outclassed them in sheer economic might with a combined GDP of approximately 10 trillion
US dollars vs the Warsaw Pact’s 2.5 trillion. Therefore any war would have to be quick,
with projections at the time showing that a multi-year conflict would eventually result
in a complete NATO victory With focus on a quick and decisive campaign,
the Soviet Union would immediately launch an offensive across the German front while
putting Warsaw Pact forces in Romania and Bulgaria on a defensive footing to prevent
a flanking maneuver by Italian, Greek, or Turkish forces. Though Greek and Turkish forces alone outnumbered
Bulgarian and Romanian forces by 2:1, difficult terrain and a lack of a decisive numerological
advantage would have favored a defensive battle for the Bulgarians and Romanians. On Turkey’s eastern front, the Caucuses were
a natural barrier to land invasion into the Soviet Union, and a force of approximately
100,000 Soviet soldiers could have easily held against a Turkish attack thanks to the
difficult terrain. An attempt to flank these forces over the
Black Sea would have been catastrophic due to the presence of the Soviet Black Sea fleet-
so instead of joining a European offensive, Turkey would have been tasked with keeping
the Black Sea fleet bottled up to prevent it from reaching the Mediterranean. Trying to break out of the Black Sea would
have spelled complete disaster for the Soviets, as they would have been forced to try to break
through Turkish defenses on the narrow Bosphorus Strait. In the end, most of the fighting would have
remained in Germany, though the longer the war continued the more US naval reinforcements
would arrive and with access to the Black Sea firmly in Turkish control, the decimation
of the Soviet Black Sea fleet would be a forgone conclusion, allowing Turkey to land forces
at Odesa and Sevastopol and opening a second front in the Soviet Union’s vulnerable southern
border. Initially though Soviet forces would quickly
overwhelm NATO defenses in Germany. On the eve of war Soviet forces would open
with a withering ballistic and air-launched cruise missile attack against West Germany’s
air bases. With about 1500 ballistic missile launchers,
and most of them near the front, the majority of NATO’s air fields in West Germany would
be quickly rendered useless and require days to repair. However, this would not put as big a dent
in NATO’s ability to launch sorties as the Soviets hoped as NATO planes had on average
25-50% greater range than Soviet planes, and 88% of all NATO fighters had in-air refueling
capabilities vs approximately 3% of Soviet fighters. With better and more fuel-efficient engines
along with a robust aerial tanker fleet, NATO planes were designed for longer-range sorties
exactly because of the vulnerability of West German air fields to sudden Soviet offenses
and missile strikes. In the first week of the war NATO would be
pushed back dozens of miles by overwhelming Soviet firepower. With most of its forces stationed near West
Germany, the Warsaw Pact could funnel more troops faster than NATO to the front, whom
would have to mobilize forces from Great Britain, Spain, Portugal and the US. With the US holding the majority of NATO’s
firepower, it would take 15 days minimum to deploy the first American light infantry brigades
into Europe, so the Soviets would enjoy a 2 week decisive advantage over NATO. Yet their offensive would be slowed by the
natural terrain of Germany which features dozens of rivers, and the influx of troops
along with a mass civilian exodus would congest roads also slowing down the Soviet advance. Soviet military doctrine would further slow
down an offensive, as their units featured very few logistical support personnel as it
was Soviet thinking at the time that most units would be entirely decimated and would
simply be replaced by new units- as supply lines lengthened a lack of logistics personnel
would have been a critical vulnerability and caused even more slowdowns of the Soviet advance. In the air, neither side would enjoy much
success initially. NATO planes would have been able to target
and fire on Soviet planes from much longer distances, but Soviet planes were generally
better at close-quarters dogfighting. Unclassified Soviet documents show that though
initially the Soviet Union thought it could win an air supremacy war, by 1985, and eclipsed
technologically by NATO, Soviet doctrine shifted to focusing air power in smaller areas rather
than trying to establish theater-wide supremacy. This would have tied up Soviet fighters in
specific geographic areas protecting them from NATO attack, but would also prevent them
from launching strikes against NATO logistical facilities or troop formations, leaving NATO
troops free to resupply, and ready for counter attacks. The Soviet Union would instead have relied
on its overwhelming SAM air defense advantage, but most of their platforms were not very
mobile and would have taken days to weeks to reach the front. American stealth aircraft such as the F117
would prove to be stunningly effective against Soviet-built air defenses in Desert Storm
just 2 years later, but it would take time to move them to the European theater from
their US bases and would be too few in number to decisively alter the course of the war
on their own. In the North Atlantic the Soviet fleet would
operate under a ‘Fortress Fleet’ doctrine, keeping close to their coastal fire support
and acting as a defensive measure against sea invasions by NATO. A string of seafloor sensors and coordinated
anti-submarine assets made a nearly impenetrable wall across Greenland, Iceland and the UK
for Soviet subs, leaving American reinforcements with little threat of attack as they crossed
the Atlantic. The Soviet Union might attempt a surprise
invasion of Iceland in order to break the anti-submarine defense line, but only at the
risk of leaving key Barents Sea naval facilities defenseless against NATO invasion, threatening
the German front and presenting an unacceptable risk. NATO forces would likely attempt a land offensive
across the northern tip of Norway in a bid to open a second front and relieve pressure
in Germany, but heavy snow and mountainous terrain would make any advance slow and difficult
while greatly favoring the Soviet defenders. On the other side of the world, the Soviet
Union would face considerable threat from US forces in the Pacific, who would attempt
offensives against Kamchatka. While far less strategically important to
the war effort due to its less economically developed nature, a land-invasion of eastern
Soviet Union would provide a corridor for advances into the heart of the nation. The Soviets would thus be forced to divert
manpower from the European front to fend off an American invasion. Having signed a mutual defense treaty with
the US, Japan would provide a fortified base of operations for an American invasion, and
though unable to mount offensives on its own due to the self-defense nature of its military,
Japanese forces could eventually reinforce Americans making landfall in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Pacific Fleet would also operate
under a ‘Fortress Fleet’ doctrine, keeping close to coastal firepower as it could not
match the US navy. With 5 supercarriers in the Pacific, the US
would eventually succeed in making landfall in Kamchatka, though only at great cost to
its navy and marines both. Ending the first year of the war the Soviet
Union and its allies would have seized the majority of Germany and this would have presented
the most opportune time to bid for a seize-fire, hoping for a lack of will to continue fighting
from NATO nations. Though both sides would have all but exhausted
their air forces, it would have provided an opportunity for NATO industry to replace its
entire inventory with wholly modern fighters and strike aircraft, completely swinging the
balance of power in the air and leaving Soviet forces vulnerable. Facing a combined economic might over 3 times
greater than its own, and with new fronts opening up in its vulnerable Pacific coast,
if the Soviet Union could not force peace by year’s end it would have faced certain
defeat. Still, win or lose, by year’s end war between
the Soviet Union and NATO would have casualties reaching in the millions- a second year’s
worth of fighting may have seen casualty numbers higher than in any other 1-year period of
fighting in history, making a Soviet Union/NATO war the most deadly in human history. Even with NATO’s ability to win a long-term
conflict, the cost of pushing deep into Warsaw Pact territory would have been prohibitive,
and an end to the war would simply have seen old borders restored at the cost of tens of
millions of soldiers and hundreds of millions of direct and indirect civilian casualties-
begging the question of who in the end could ultimately claim victory? So, who do you think would win in a NATO / Soviet
Union showdown? Let us know your thoughts in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video
called Russian Soldiers vs American Soldiers! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t
forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!

100 Comments on "NATO vs Soviet Union – Who Would Win? Military / Army Comparison"


  1. If you were to consider nuclear weapons, The Soviets would've "Won". Nobody in populated cities would survive so most of Europe and the United states would be destroyed. I don't know what would happen with the rest of the world but separated cities in the USSR would survive. So considered the majority of NATO is destroyed but there are slivers of the USSR I guess you could "say" they won. But, taking into consideration that the Soviet Union would train their students in a class called Civil Defense teaching them how to survive in a wasteland by finding resources, how to work an AK-47 (or Kalashnikov) and also how to change filters, equip and fix a gas mask soviet civilians in more densely populated areas (not Moscow think like perhaps Novosibirsk or Chelyabinsk I'm not sure) had a more chance of surviving than in the United States where they would hide in the basement or under desks in "fallout shelters" which was more buildings that wouldn't collapse during a nuclear disaster than a working shelter. So I guess it is "safe" to say that the Soviets would've had a higher chance in winning discussing nuclear, and they also had the deadliest nuclear bomb in their arsenal. If you disagree please feel free to discuss below, I'm open minded to criticism/different opinions.

    Reply

  2. Not including nuclear weapons not a realistic scenario for the reason that Vladimir Putin him selve said if a NATO invasion happens they would without a doubt resort to nuclear weapons

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  3. I have serious doubts the USSR had much faith in their Warsaw Pact allies. I suspect there would be many loyal commanders and soldiers in places like East Germany or Bulgaria, but I doubt the general populace would be thrilled with a war against the West. Especially in Poland. An open rebellion there would have seriously messed up Warsaw Pact logistics. Any Warsaw Pact army fighting close to NATO troops, especially Polish, run a real risk they would switch sides if given a chance. The quick, sudden collapse of the entire Eastern Bloc in a short time in the late 80s and their uniformly embracing joining NATO speaks volumes on how reliable they would have been.

    Don't think the West didn't know this, and would have tried like crazy to encourage it too.

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  4. Soviet vs Nato? only ussr Never win nato Nato so many counties right? If USSR win It badly For world

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  5. "1960 Turkey has surrendered"

    "1970 Soviet Union has taken the European"

    "1980 london captured"

    "1980 United Kingdom surrendered"

    "1988 washington captured"

    "1990 United States surrendered"

    3rd world war ended 780 million people lost their lives

    Reply

  6. Until the mid 70s nato would win, for a brief period the Warsaw pact but as soon as regan got in the white house it's kind of a toss up until the late 80s when nato had the balance of power in there favor, this all non nuclear of course

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  7. I really wondered USSR had a stlightly larger air force than USA.USA could have larger air force than USSR easily if they want but still impressive.

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  8. Yugoslavia also faith with Soviet. This is not faith with two side. Is also war against communist people vs democratic, capitalism, liberalism rich people, corporations.

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  9. If the Soviets defeated the Nazis alone (Strongest army in the 1940s) why can’t the USSR defeat NATO?

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  10. I have heard this somewhere. Where? Oh, yes! Red alert! How I envy these coach specialists! Without any knowledge of the art of war, they know everything!

    Reply

  11. The USSR would have won! NATO could not get the Germans, Italians and the French to work together. They’re still reeling in from their WW II failures and cowardice. Britain and the US would have to pull the majority of the weight. Still the same today….🤦🏻‍♂️🤦🏻‍♂️🤦🏻‍♂️🤦🏻‍♂️

    Reply

  12. What happens if NATO member attacks another NATO member?? Italy, Slovenia and Hungary are threatening to attack Croatia :/

    All of them want a piece of Croatia.

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  13. nice video, one important question, you are mentioning several times in this video that Soviets will have to defend Kamatchka?? Where is it?? Or have you meant Kamchatka 🙂

    Reply

  14. Why do focus on imaginary wars instead make videos on global warming as you have resources to spread awareness, tell people about which countries are responsible for all this global warming and why your leaders don't accept global warming

    Reply

  15. US are Hippocrates who always interfare…..but are afraid to face alone even with China, India or russia….you cchicken americans

    Reply

  16. What if Asean JOIN the North Atlantic squad.
    We are from the Philippines (Part of ASEAN).
    Soviet union starts to fall. JOIN Japan and South Korea.

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  17. in that time 2,5 billion dollar was only soviet uniopn money and 1 soviet ruble=3 dollars at that time

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  18. Russia:i will take the world
    NATO:They pushing us bacj we need a plan
    USA:THEY HAVE S400 BUT WE HABE …….TURKEY
    TURKEY:HOLD MY AYRAN

    Reply

  19. we all know this doesnt mean anything because what it comes down to is tactical decisions, will of the men fighting, who deals the most decisive blows,….wars between relatively 2 modern armies is not reliant on who got the most men or money, it's about who manages it better

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  20. Soviet Union was so inoperative, it destroyed itself but NATO is just bigger and stronger in these days (even though we are comparing those two just at that time, it still tells you about their roots and how workables those were)

    Reply

  21. AAH. Modern academics: "mountain ranges block military advances." The mongols: "Hold my beer." Lol we all know that mountain passes are potential killing terrain, but the mongols successfully passed through supposedly heavily defended mountain positions with ease, and on horseback with 2 spare mounts (minimum) each,

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  22. Nato is useless without turkey. Learn this fact and treat us according to that. only america and turkey can change this videos scenario by changing sides. No turkey at nato, RIP europe against russians.

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  23. Here is one fact. In the W parts of germany huge amount of material was stored. There was therefore possible to fly soldiers to Germany where their weapons waited. It would have taken 2 dayes to field 1,5 divisions within 5 dayes you could have a significant forse able to delay the WP.

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  24. Very few people know, India had a friendship treaty with USSR. That means India would have had to jump in too. Guess you’ll have to remake this video 😂

    Reply

  25. Because Austria was neutral and Yugoslavia nonaligned the Warsaw Pact forces have only one invasion point that was Germany meaning with appropriate preparation Germany specifically the south could be turned into a impenetrable bottle neck taking the Warsaw Pact forces considerable time to traverse the alps. Regardless of numbers all the nato forces have to do is dig in and wait for the enemy and use their technology superiority to pick off enemy tanks and vehicles one by one before the Soviets can even get in range basically the battle of Rooks Drift but with tanks. The idea is to cause enough damage to their forces and slow the advance long enough for reinforcements to come from British and France and then America later on.

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  26. I'm concerned because Soviet technology is outdated. We have F-22s which I'm pretty sure can out fly the Soviets Anti-Aircraft Technology.

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  27. Im pretty sure russia has larger percentage of QUALITY chess players
    than US, thats my guess, …that is what
    you were referring to right? thats the only thing i can think of as reason the two Militarys would be trying to win a contest against one another

    Reply

  28. NATO…vs RUSSIA.. CHINA.INDIA.
    …YOU don't hear or you wasn't info ab RUS INDIA and CHINA. DEAL!!.
    who do you lie.

    NATO already collapse..BUT THEY NOT INFORM YOU..
    😁😁

    Reply

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