Refitting Soviet-era warships, fielding new aircraft and tanks and seeking new overseas bases, the Russian military that now has troops on alert amidst a crisis in Ukraine is more potent than the force which briefly fought Georgia six years ago.
Moscow is seriously investing in building its clout. Since 2008, it has raised military spending by almost a third and drastically reformed both the armed forces and defence industry to tackle post-Cold War decay.
But Russian forces remain much weaker than at their Soviet peak and face huge problems ranging from corruption to a long-term shortage of recruits, not to mention the risk of insurgency if they ever set foot in Ukraine.
Moscow denies any direct link between its surprise military drills announced on Wednesday and Ukraine, where largely pro-Western demonstrators ousted Viktor Yanukovich, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, last weekend.