At The National Interest, Richard Connolly and Mathieu Boulegue write that the economics and leadership disposition in Russia prevent it from truly competing with “better equipped peer competitors.” They write (abridged):
While official rhetoric in relation to military modernization—and in particular to the development of new strategic-weapons systems—might appear alarming to some observers, a detailed examination of what Russia is able to produce suggests that Russian ambitions are in fact more modest.
Given existing economic constraints, and the leadership’s desire to avoid incurring the costs of an excessive military build-up, defense-industrial production on a scale commensurate with an arms race is simply out of the question. While Russia is likely to feel more confident in its ability to defend itself, to assert its interests near its own borders, and to deploy relatively small-scale forces abroad, it will remain a long way from possessing the ability to overwhelm larger, better equipped peer competitors.
Read more here.