Putin May Be Saving Aerial Strength for Attacks on NATO: Report

Russian President Vladimir Putin may be saving military strength and aerial firepower for an attack on NATO nations, according to a new report.

On Wednesday, the NATO Defense College published a policy brief report titled "Russia's military after Ukraine: down but not out," which discusses the current state of Russia's military forces amid the ongoing war in Ukraine and how it could possibly lead to a further attack on NATO nations.

The report states that despite the losses Russia has faced in terms of military personnel, armored vehicles, aircrafts and artillery weapons, "Russia has not utilized its full military potential in the attack against Ukraine."

"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 report said. "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."

Russian Air Force
A new report from NATO suggests that Russia could be saving its military strength and air support for a potential attack on NATO nations. Above, Russian MiG-29 jet fighters of the Strizhi and Su-30SM jet fighters of the Russkiye Vityazi aerobatic teams fly in formation over the Kremlin and Red Square in Moscow on May 7, 2021, during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade. ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty

The report comes amid the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine which has prompted numerous officials to warn that Putin may not stop in Ukraine and he could eventually move to attack a NATO nation.

In June, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke to NATO leaders and warned that Russia could eventually attack NATO nations.

"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," Zelensky said. "Then it will be our common failure—both for Ukraine and for NATO."

The NATO report published on Wednesday echoed Zelensky's remarks and said, "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."

As the report noted, Russia has faced widespread losses in its war with Ukraine. Citing data from the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, the report said "between 24 February and 2 July Russia lost 35,870 military personnel, approximately 1,582 tanks, 3,737 armoured vehicles, 800 artillery systems, 246 multiple launch rocket systems, 217 aircraft, 186 helicopters, and 15 ships."

Newsweek reached out to NATO and the Russian Foreign Ministry for comment.

Despite the report from the NATO Defense College, one of Putin's former speech writers, Abbas Gallyamov recently said that the Russian military is "obviously at a loss" and that they are currently "improvising."

"Putin needs to achieve something that will convince Russians that he won and he can't get it," Gallyamov said in an interview with Radio Free Europe last week.