The Victory Parade on May 9th in Moscow to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War 2 will be accompanied by the display of an impressive amount of new military hardware. The centerpiece will be the Armata combat chassis, which will form the basis not just for what is likely to be the world’s most advanced tank, the T-14, but a whole family of other armored vehicles. This cross-platform utilization is a hallmark of Soviet military design philosophy which stressed efficiencies of scale and interoperability in the chaos and rapid wear and tear of the modern battlefield.

After many months of waiting, the tanks have been finally fully exposed, including the unmanned and fully remotely controlled turret equipped with autoloader, 125mm smoothbore gun that can fire both shells with a muzzle velocity higher than the 120mm Rheinmetall gun used in Leopards and Kornet-D anti-tank/helicopter missiles, a smaller 30mm cannon, a machine gun capable of taking out incoming projectiles such as anti-tank missiles, and the latest in AESA-based radar, information control systems, and remote sensing technologies. It also has the capability to go fully robotic in the future. It runs on a 1500hp diesel engine and the crew is housed in an internal armored capsule that should greatly improve their survivability.

Here are some photos published on the Russian Defense Ministry website with details of other projects based on the Armata chassis:


Medium tank “Armata”


“Coalition-SV” self-propelled artillery system


BMP “Armata”

The parade will also feature vehicles with the Bumerang wheeled chassis, which will form the base for a new APC, and the Kurganets-25 tracked chassis, which will form the basis for a new infantry fighting vehicle and APC, and the Kornet-D1 anti-tank guided missile mounted on a modified chassis of the all terrain infantry vehicle the GAZ Tigr.

The manufacturer, Uralvagonzavod, plans to produce around 2,300 of Armata T-14s by 2020, which if successful would replace around 70% of Russia’s modern armor based on the T-72 and T-90 systems. At around $5 million per unit, it will also be twice cheaper than modern Western tanks. This forms part of a vast $700 billion rearmament program which will see Russian military spending rise to 4-5% of GDP for at least the next five years, even as the government cuts back on many other social programs. Because of Russia’s lower costs (one dollar buys more there), the greater share of the budget that is devoted to procurement and research relative to the US (because it has few bases and no wars abroad, and conscripts still make up around 40% of its total forces), and declines in US military spending, it actually appears that Russia will soon be spending more than the US on procuring new equipment.

Does this represent some radically new militarization? It depends on how you look at it. Relative to European countries that now spend 1-2% of their GDP on the military, sure. Relative to the USSR, which spent anywhere from 12%-25% of GDP on the military, certainly not. It is however understandable in the context of an increasingly dangerous international situation as well as the massive depreciation of Russian military capital stock during the crisis years of the 1990s and the recovery-orientated years of the 2000s. In 1990, the Soviet and American total stocks of military equipment were approximately equivalent in real terms; today, Russia’s is only a quarter or a third as big. After this rearmament, this gap will significantly narrow – a fact that will be reflected on the ground in a modernized armored force, a whole bunch of modernized boomer (Borey), nuclear attack (Yasen), and quiet diesel (Kilo, Lada) submarines, over a thousand new helicopters, modest increases in the surface fleet, and some fairly limited quantity of the fifth generation PAK FA fighters (due to a combination of program delays and cost overruns). The current recession and decline in oil prices, even if they are prolonged, are unlike to critically torpedo these plans.

Will this be “good” or “bad” for peace and international relations? The intuitive answer is the latter, but that is not at all that evident on closer examination. First, Russian military weakness during the 1990s and 2000s probably at least somewhat explain why the West was so cavalier about expanding into its sphere of influence, who possibly even went as far as funding the Chechen militants. Surely the perception of Russian military weakness at least partially explained why the US gave tacit approval to Saakashvili’s assault on South Ossetia in 2008. Second, in an inverse of the situation during the Cold War, it is now official Russian military doctrine to use limited nuclear strikes to “deescalate” a conventional confrontation with other nuclear powers (read: NATO) that they are losing. A restoration of the military balance is perhaps the better outcome even for the West than the increased chance of nuclear war with a conventionally weak Russia.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. Anonymous says

    Re: the Coalition-SV self-propelled gun, its chassis isn’t derived from Armata – yet. It is instead a specially designed variant of the T-90 chassis, as an interim measure, because the variant of the Armata chassis to carry the Coalition-SV (which is really encapsulated by the turret) isn’t ready yet.

    The giveaway is the road wheels – the Coalition-SV has only six road wheels that are the larger diameter, T-72/T-90 style. The Armata chassis has seven road wheels, of the smaller, T-80 style (they save weight).

  2. Does this represent some radically new militarization?

    No, it merely represents a torturous, uneven and inevitable modernization, which was happening since Putin came to power. Latest edition of Russia’s military doctrine for the first time states the availability of the conventional option, which is a drastic change for contemporary Russia. In this case Armata platforms, the same as Russian Armed Forces steady and fairly successful transition to a genuine Net Centric Warfare capabilities, the deployment of a very competitive C4ISR complex, are merely milestones. The final objective of this transformation is to be able to fight a single conventional war on a major theater of operation such as Europe against any combination of the enemy forces. Right now Russia is not capable of doing this but it is, realistically, not necessary. But Russia , certainly, as of now, can conduct a major defensive-offensive combined arms operations in its immediate foreign vicinity and that spells…East and Central Ukraine. Plus, conventionally, Russia is capable to strike any European capital and US shores by cruise missiles in conventional configuration.

  3. Cliff Arroyo says

    How edifying that Russia is foregoing the aggressive military displays you criticized Ukraine for….

  4. So, rolling out the family of combat vehicles, whose development was under international scrutiny for at least a decade, deep inside Russian territory, tied to an immensely important for Russia anniversary is “aggressive”? The way Armata and others were unveiled was anything but aggressive. It is a message, for sure, but, if anything else, this message pursues objective which is quite opposite to being aggressive. The growth of numbers of US (NATO) “non-aggressive” instructors and weapons in Ukraine, however, may, indeed, change the posture.

  5. Vendetta says

    Curious as to whether the crew has a means of manually operating the turret in the event of an electronics failure.

  6. Curious as to whether the crew has a means of manually operating the turret in the event of an electronics failure.

    Very likely it has. Most of serious technology has redundancies built in–otherwise it becomes merely a showpiece.

  7. Fran Macadam says

    It is really too bad that our own military-industrial-financialist oligarchy blew the peace. It was evident that for a time after they decided on their own to give up on communist dictatorship, the Russians genuinely trusted the west’s goodwill. Whether or not some of us were sincere or both sides were taken in by our propaganda, it’s pretty clear that there’s a bigger appetite for domination and control on the western side of things than was realized by most of us acceding to the public opinion manufactured for us..

  8. It has to be understood against the emotional background of time period and the strength of Bush Sr. foreign policy team, headed by James Baker and represented in Moscow by one of the most skillful US Ambassadors ever–Jack Matlock. Another matter, that, as it became recently known, Bush Sr. did communicate to Baker that the public performance should be along the lines of not pressing with “we won Cold War” issue in Russia, while understanding that “we still won”. Somehow, even those truly competent people couldn’t resist, at least many of them, but even they, evidently, couldn’t afford Soviet people any agency in changing their country. So, what can one expect from contemporary hacks and ignoramuses who formulate US foreign policy?

    As per “communist dictatorship”, as late George F. Kennan said “Not everything that went in Russia in the name of communism was bad, nor were many people who believed it”(c). This whole “communist dictatorship” in USSR narrative is precisely what exhibits a complete lack of any clue on the Soviet period and inability to understand even such simple things that USSR of 1930s, 1950s and 1970s were three completely different countries. But then again, I heard commentaries by NBC’s so called “Russian scholars” during opening ceremony of Sochi Olympics and I almost choked on my food several times. I will reiterate–US “Russian Studies” field is DEAD, period. It was barely alive in 1970s, now it is gone.

    P.S. The way USSR collapsed has 90% to do with the fact that multicultural societies DO NOT work. Without dominating ethos, its culture and institutions this whole multi-kulti thing is bound to collapse. Ask yourself a questions why real reasons of Soviet collapse are so unpopular (or ignored altogether) in US “Russia academe”. Freud, anyone?

  9. I think that Soviet Communism was bad before WWII and good after WWII, which I’m guessing isn’t far from your view. I don’t think that it collapsed because of multiculturalism however.

    I think that Gorbachev was a vain man who wanted to look cooler than Brezhnev and company. He wanted to be seen as a hip, forward-looking reformer.

    The Western propaganda machine’s message was that the West was hip and cool. It was actually rotting, in civilizational decline. And the people running it were steering it in a declinist, decadent direction. The USSR was heading in a better direction before Gorbachev took the wheel.

    All the actual coolness that the West possessed came from its past and was being destroyed. There’s less of it now than there was in the 1980s. But propaganda doesn’t need to have any connection with reality. The Western propaganda machine was well-run and it depicted the West as cool and the USSR as uncool.

    The intended audience of this message within the USSR was the youth. I doubt that the West’s propagandists even hoped to get the party’s leadership on board with this message. But Gorby was looking for things he could reform. He quickly got bored with his anti-alcohol campaign (which was actually doing a lot of good), and the Western propaganda machine’s message of what reform is was available.

    So he picked it up. And turned the country in the wrong direction. And tens of millions of lives were screwed up.

    That’s my view. How exactly do you think multiculturalism destroyed the USSR? I don’t remember there being any serious ethnic problems until Gorby took the wheel. Can you explain your view of how and why the USSR died in more detail?