NATO released a report Wednesday suggesting that Russian President Vladimir Putin might be saving his aerial firepower amid the war in Ukraine for a potential attack on NATO nations.
The NATO Defense College's brief, "Russia's military after Ukraine: down but not out," outlines Russia's resources amid losses in its current "special military operation" in Ukraine.
"Russia has not utilized its full military potential in the attack against Ukraine," the analysis read. "It did not order general mobilization. Maintaining the ability to engage, if needed, in operations against NATO may explain some of the characteristics and 'surprises' of the Russian war against Ukraine, for example the limited use of airpower, gradual deployment of older and less precise weapon systems, or what appear to be subdued attacks in cyberspace.
"The official Russian narrative is almost always defensive, but the essence of Moscow's approach is to change the status quo. In this context, an attack against a NATO country remains a possibility."
Military experts have long warned that Putin's designs on Ukraine might extend to other former Soviet Union nations, including those that have already been given defense assurances through NATO.
"Next year, the situation may be worse not only for Ukraine but also for several other countries, possibly NATO members, that may be under fire from Russia," Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told NATO in June. "Then it will be our common failure — both for Ukraine and for NATO."
Wednesday's NATO analysis of Russia's remaining military force echoed those warnings.
"The poor performance of the Russian forces in the first months of their war against Ukraine and the scale of casualties and material losses they suffered should however prompt further reflection about Russia's ability to recover and challenge NATO militarily," the report read.
The analysis cited Ukraine Defense Ministry estimates that Russia has "lost 35,870 military personnel, approximately 1,582 tanks, 3,737 armored vehicles, 800 artillery systems, 246 multiple launch rocket systems, 217 aircraft, 186 helicopters, and 15 ships" since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
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