11 October 2016
SENIOR US defense experts have warned that relations between Moscow and Washington have reached a low "not seen since the darkest days of the Cold War".
But it is still not clear which military superpower possesses the most fearsome armed forces.
So analysts at the Centre for National Interest - a Washington-based think tank - have predicted exactly what weapons would be used if the historic foes ever went to war - and which would be most effective.
They spell out the likelihood that "an accidental collision could spark a diplomatic crisis, a crisis that could lead to a place no one wants to go: some sort of open conflict".
But they also concede that it is "very unlikely" that the US will ever directly face off against Russia as a war would "almost certain end poorly for all concerned".
However, the experts say that modern Russia has a "formidable arsenal of both strategic and tactical nuclear weapons" and that the threat posed by Moscow cannot be downplayed.
Among the five most potent weapons at Vladimir Putin's disposal is the Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jet, which the think tank says has "high altitude capability and blistering speed".
Russia also boasts the Amur-class submarine, which CNI says "are extremely quiet and pose an extremely dangerous threat to surface warships".
The T-90 tank is also noted for its low cost compared with Western equivalent.
The armored vehicle has "explosive reactive armor" and Russia has built around a thousand of them to date.
The P-800 supersonic anti-ship missile and Type 53-65 wake-homing torpedo are also singled out as particularly versatile weapons.
The US authors note: "The near Mach 3 capable missile can also be used against land targets.
"It has a range of about 300 km (or roughly 186 miles)—which means it far out-ranges the US Navy Harpoon anti-ship missile."
They add: "While anti-ship missiles get a lot of attention, submarine launched torpedoes are arguably a much more dangerous threat to US Navy surface warships.
"Perhaps the most dangerous torpedoes that the Navy might encounter are high-performance Russian-made wake homing torpedoes."
However, the US vastly outspends Russia on defence and has an arsenal of advanced weapons and vehicles to show for it.
The CNI experts pick out Ohio-Class Ballistic Missile Submarines - which carry the Trident missiles - as at "the core" of America's strategic nuclear deterrent.
Described as "essential", the B-2 stealth bomber also makes the cut, as the defence analysts say it would "almost certainly be an integral plan of any war between Russia and the United States".
F-22 Raptor fighter jets would "alone be on the front lines of any US-Russian war", CNI explains, making the warplane a vital component of the US arsenal.
America's missile defence system is also a crucial piece in the jigsaw as it offers protection both to the US and its strategic partners across the world, from Europe to South Korea.
Last on the CNI's list of top US components is its allies.
The military experts write that, "while not a 'weapon' in the traditional sense, the US global alliance network would greatly enhance America's ability to wage war against Russia".
The US is a member of NATO and also has allies across the Americas, Asia and Europe.
Russia has attempted to court new allies in the form of Syria and other players on the fringes of the international community, but its network of influence is far smaller than that of the US.