Help support TMP

"Wargaming Russia vs NATO in Ukraine" Topic

51 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

Please do not use bad language on the forums.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Modern Scenarios Message Board

Back to the Medieval Scenarios Message Board

Back to the Modern What-If Message Board

Back to the Modern Discussion (1946 to 2011) Message Board

Areas of Interest


Featured Hobby News Article

Featured Link

Featured Showcase Article

Battle-Market: Tannenberg 1410

The Editor tries out a boardgame - yes, a boardgame - from battle-market magazine.

Featured Profile Article

Dice & Tokens for Team Yankee

Looking at the Soviet and U.S. token and dice sets for Battlefront's Team Yankee.

6,063 hits since 20 Mar 2014
©1994-2021 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

walkabout21 Mar 2014 2:47 a.m. PST

Lets say that Nato decides to take back the Crimea or Russia has taken all or part of the Ukraine and NATO builds up in Poland. Using a divisional set of rules like Corp Commander, how would NATO do against Russia. In this scenario the US has called up all available reserves and reinstated the draft and over a six month period has send a large portion of our military to the Ukraine and/or Poland. Nato has also sent large numbers of troops. So we can use all the latest modern equipment on both sides instead of using 60's, 70's and 80's equipment.
What types of scenarios can you think of. Russia attacking before NATO forces can get to strong. US Navel forces taking on the Black sea fleet.

bruntonboy21 Mar 2014 2:57 a.m. PST

My imagination won't stretch that far I am afraid.

I cannot imagine there is any stomach in the west for any conflict where there is to be serious fighting against anyone with anything like modern capability. Especially for a piece of land that isn't in NATO, never has been and is disputed by two non-NATO members.

Recent events suggest that western governments and populations will not fight where a large loss of troops is possible. Taking on third world rag tag armies maybe, but even here the political fall out is almost too great for governments and their societies to countenance.

Maybe if the Russians invaded Kent, Florida or Saxony possibly then but no one is going to put boots on the ground to "defend" Crimea which is lost.

Mako1121 Mar 2014 3:15 a.m. PST

I can see NATO helping to defend Poland, and maybe even the smaller Baltic states, though I'm not 100% sure about the latter, if the Russians use the same tactics they did in Crimea.

I doubt we will do anything substantial to aid Ukraine, other than perhaps to provide weapons, should SE Ukraine be invaded by Russia, and taken.

Attack, defense, meeting engagements, etc.

Small skirmishes to start, perhaps some helo insertions, or paratrooper drops at strategic points and facilities, with larger engagements over time, if cooler heads don't prevail.

I don't think you'll see any substantial NATO naval forces in the Black Sea, since that would be suicide. We have one vessel there now, apparently, just to show the flag.

Baltic Sea is a possibility, especially if the Baltic nations come under attack.

Moldova is apparently at risk, due to the request by some there to rejoin Russia.

Also, apparently Russian troops are massing on the Eastern border of Ukraine, but no additional info, or numbers were provided in the brief announcement this morning.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP21 Mar 2014 3:16 a.m. PST

^^^ I'm with him. I'd be inclined to play the other end of the spectrum and game the US draft riots at skirmish level.

Edit to add: Both of the above

I think Ukraine is best as a "Red Dawn" type of game.

If you want divisional level what-ifs, look at Russia vs Poland.

Martin Rapier21 Mar 2014 3:24 a.m. PST

As above, NATO is a defensive alliance, not an offensive one, whatever Soviet paranoia may have thought.

The only way NATO is going in to Ukraine is if Russia attacks a NATO country. That is usually called 'World War Three', something we and the Russians spent 45 years avoiding or fighting by proxy as that last bit of WW3 with all the mushroom clouds isn't likely to be very pleasant.

I can imagine some sort of 90s Balkans style proxy conflict going on however.

Chokidar21 Mar 2014 3:32 a.m. PST

"US Navel forces taking on the Black sea fleet."

…presumably accompanied by belly dancers from Turkey!!!

dandandan21 Mar 2014 4:19 a.m. PST

What's the point in gaming something that just goes "boom" and ends everything after a day?

Inkpaduta21 Mar 2014 4:58 a.m. PST

Frankly, it would ahve to be a very quick campaign. With the US having a 17 Trillion dollar debt we couldn't avoid a major conflict anymore.

whoa Mohamed21 Mar 2014 6:22 a.m. PST

If Nato had or ever does respond a significant troop presence in poland or even the Ukcrain would have been enouf you do not always need to come to blows and showing the will to fight is often enough to put a bullie in thier place…I don't remember but I don't Belive Kuwait was a member of Nato so the non Nato excuse does not fly. Make no Mistake Europe has alot to be worried about….

Solzhenitsyn21 Mar 2014 7:24 a.m. PST

What would NATO's first strike / sanctions be?

Revoke the Russian leaderships Costco and BJ's memberships?

There is always dialog as opposed to conflict:


nickinsomerset21 Mar 2014 7:29 a.m. PST

Sorry, the British Army no longer has enough Tanks and Artillery to do more than drive around Salisbury Plain twice a month to carry out environmental projects!

Tally Ho!

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP21 Mar 2014 7:49 a.m. PST

As much as gamers would like to see an excuse to either use their existing miniatures or order/paint up some new figs for a modern conflict, the chances of this are not very good.

First, the U.S. would have to be involved just to provide the logistical and intelligence infrastructure that most NATO forces are severely lacking in (due to budget cuts + slow modernizing programs). There's little to no stomach for that currently here in the U.S., which means most NATO forces won't get involved either. Second, this isn't your father's Russia/Warsaw Pact armed forces with endless tank hordes and filling the skies with combat aircraft. The Russian forces are no match for U.S. led NATO forces and Russia knows this,so they'll press things as far as they can, but not to the level of actual combat. Finally, the Black Sea Fleet? Really? Can most of the ships even make it out of port this time?

darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP21 Mar 2014 7:52 a.m. PST

LOL Solzhenitsyn. I hadn't seen that one.

jpattern221 Mar 2014 8:27 a.m. PST

Maybe if the Russians invaded Florida . . .
Now, let's not be hasty, let's think about this for a minute . . .

Centurian21 Mar 2014 10:20 a.m. PST

There is always the chance that Russia under Putin may gamble that no one in NATO would ever use nuclear weapons unless these were used against NATO first. Even if Estonia or Poland were invaded, I cannot see Obama, Cameron, or least of all Hollande authorizing a nuclear strike in any case except as a counter strike. The political consequences would be deemed far too high. Instead, NATO would have to retreat, and hope to trade space for time to build up its forces. And if such a plan were made in concert with China making economic or military threats as well (and including Iran as an ally?), then it would be interesting indeed. The motive would be to retake territory that traditionally had been under Russian hegemony. Putin could claim to take these lands to restore Russia to its righful place in the world.

Of course all this would purely be a gaming perspective nothing like this would ever happen in reality…

I would think Putin would wait for delivery of the French built Mistral landing ships later this year, however. That would make for some interesting scenarios!

Bangorstu21 Mar 2014 10:48 a.m. PST

Those ships aren't being delivered… least for now.

Wellspring21 Mar 2014 12:18 p.m. PST

Historically, Russia is at its worst when it's acting as an army of invasion.

Their approach is to undermine a country's stability, subvert their political leadership to install a puppet government, and eventually absorb the puppet. It's actually an organic process brought about more by the organizational doctrine of the military and intelligence agencies than by conscious policy, but it's also state policy.

This was squared and cubed under Communism because that ideology considers national and religious distinctions to be artificial; however, the tendency existed in Russian strategy long before Marx.

Russia has historically been very concerned about its natural borders-- of which it has few. Its attempts to secure itself lead to subjugating lots of ethnic minorities-- which in turn means that they're paranoid about their internal stability. When worrying about the threats they face, a foreign power supporting restive minorities in their country is at the top of the list. So they see-saw between two perceived threats, and attempts to address either one a little makes the other much worse.

So no, I don't see a ground war between the US/UK and Russia. It's simply not fitting with either party's way of doing business.

Personal logo 15mm and 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP21 Mar 2014 12:22 p.m. PST

Hypothetically speaking, it would likely have to be another US effort funded by American dollars. Irrespective of the cost, if we decide to roll the Russkies back like Saddam in 1991, we'll need to move tank brigades and infantry divisions to Poland and establish a logistical chain to support a push into Ukraine and the Crimea. We have airbases in the region where air support can be provided. We might even be 'invited' by the pro-western Ukrainian government in Kiev to stage from Ukrainian bases. Theoretically speaking from an 'anything is possible' angle, of course.

bruntonboy21 Mar 2014 1:26 p.m. PST

"roll the Russkies back like Saddam in 1991"

Can't see it myself, as I said earlier taking on a third world rag bag army is one thing but I suspect the Russians would be a rather more difficult enemy than the one faced in 1991.

Personal logo 15mm and 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP21 Mar 2014 2:31 p.m. PST

Can't see it either, but wargamers have the luxury of disregarding such real world considerations like costs in human lives and money in these 'anything goes' scenarios.

Wellspring23 Mar 2014 3:55 p.m. PST

Good point. You'd need some major assumptions (similar to what Clancy did in Red Storm Rising) to justify restricting the scope and nature of a war.

Ironically, two things that probably limited the appetite of the old Soviet empire for a showdown no longer apply. Under the new system, the Russians are unlikely to suffer from mass defections. Also, they no longer depend on wheat imports to stave off an internal crisis.

Zephyr40k24 Mar 2014 1:01 p.m. PST

A couple of years ago I ran a sceanrio using Cold War Commander in 1/285th scale along these lines. It was Germany vs. Russia in Czech Republic, circa 2016. I had written a long elaborate timeline of events leading up to the conflict but essentially it was this:

After several years of encroachment and re-absorption of former Soviet states, Russia start attempting to exert control over the rest of Europe using a heavy hand on the gas and pertroleum taps. In response, European countries nationalize the Gazprom facilities and pipelines in their countries, and eventually Russia sends tanks into Poland and Czech republic to secure their assets and employees who are Russian citizens.

They had presumed those countries that could actually oppose them militarily wouild back down, but in an unprecedented turn of events Angela Merkel convinces the Bundestag to agree to sending German military units into another country without that country's permission for the first time since WWII. As the main Russian army mops up the remanats of the Czech army in the Prague and Pilsen areas, advance elements race west to secure the vital highways controlling access to Bavaria. Meanwhile the German elements are heading east to secure those same vital transportation hubs, and the shooting war begins as these two forces collide.

MarescialloDiCampo25 Mar 2014 6:23 a.m. PST

Lately even the strongest European partners have been drastically trimming their forces. Britain and France have retrenched to the point where they have contemplated sharing a single aircraft carrier. Pentagon leaders fear that reductions in armored ground units could render U.K. forces incapable of operating alongside their U.S. counterparts. Meanwhile, the Dutch have eliminated heavy tank forces altogether, and Germany is in the process of cutting its ground and tank forces roughly in half.


If the Russians advance, theres really no alliance left to stop them…and the US redeployment times – hmmm…I bet those sea lanes are safe with the less than 200 ship Navy the US has. Current CNO just asked for 450 ship Navy.

Andy P17 Nov 2014 8:43 a.m. PST

Sounds a bit like the 80's again doesn't it?

49mountain17 Nov 2014 1:23 p.m. PST

Whanna get Obama to use Nukes? Tell him Putin is a Republican.

Mako1118 Nov 2014 2:23 p.m. PST

You are probably not too far off there, since he's willing to negotiate with the Taliban, and Iran, but not others in D.C.

What NATO force to oppose Russia?

Other than Poland, it sounds like most of Europe has unilaterally disarmed.

Johnp400019 Nov 2014 6:28 a.m. PST

On paper the Polish army appears strong and no doubt could defend its own borders, but does it have the logistics to move or sustain itself in the Ukraine without substantial outside support.
From a gaming point of view, how would you rate morale?Bearing in mind no serving western soldier has had to suffer sustained exposure to enemy artillery or aircraft attacks?

49mountain19 Nov 2014 1:11 p.m. PST

So what do you think NATO aid would be in terms of combat units? The guys at Ft Bragg? Is there any US combat presence left in Europe? The Hungarians maybe? I too wonder about the Poles. Can they fight?

tuscaloosa19 Nov 2014 6:02 p.m. PST

I can't imagine any U.S. or NATO military unit that wouldn't get sucked in and disappear in the morass of eastern Ukraine. We would have to support such a unit five thousand miles away, to fight Russian battalions which were only 100 miles from their logistics centers.

We'd be better off arming local partisan and unconventional warfare units. Let the Russians get sucked into fighting asymmetrical warfare (sorry, Barin), instead of us getting sucked into conventional warfare.

MarescialloDiCampo16 Jan 2015 11:03 a.m. PST

Its a mess and it continues to be…not a scenario that I'd like to fight in if mobilized.

Mako1116 Jan 2015 12:25 p.m. PST

If you listen to Gorbachev of late, he claims the Russians will have no other choice but to go nuclear, so it's possible to pull out all the stops, I guess.

There's also this:


Russia building capabilities to conduct multiple Crimea/Ukraine military insurgency operations at once.

Jemima Fawr17 Jan 2015 2:11 a.m. PST


My imagination won't stretch that far I am afraid.

I cannot imagine there is any stomach in the west for defending Kent.

Weasel19 Jan 2015 10:37 a.m. PST

After Hillary is elected, how long will you guys keep complaining about Obama on TMP?

Lion in the Stars19 Jan 2015 11:11 a.m. PST

@Weasel: A minimum of 3 months (election in Nov, inauguration in Jan), probably closer to 6-9 months counting blaming the former POTUS for foreign policy fubars that the current POTUS has to clean up.

Mako1106 Feb 2015 10:44 p.m. PST

Hmmmm, current WH resident is pushing 6+ years, so he's set the bar pretty high for us to be able to match.

Will she be able to do that, while dodging imaginary "sniper-fire", or will the nice men with large butterfly nets get to her first?


tuscaloosa07 Feb 2015 1:27 p.m. PST

Could be worse, could be Shrub running things. Or Jeb. Or Mitt. Or Rand. Or Ted.

Mako1107 Feb 2015 2:22 p.m. PST

I guess we'll just have to disagree on that.

chrisswim29 Jul 2015 10:42 a.m. PST

posted this in Wargaming Ukraine:
"At Historicon 2014, I ran two Russian-Ukraine wargame senarios. Took place on a 32 ft by 7.5 ft table.
The first one was a Russian attack. Probably 40 T-80 and 31 T-90 along with BMP3s, supported by arty, and Hind & Hip assault on a small village. The Ukraine force had BMP2, T-80 and T-72, BTR-60 BP in the defense.

The second senario had the Ukraine forces holding the line that was supported by NATO: Poland and the US. The Russians were planning to attack again (many of the same players the second day). They had over 60 T-80 & 90s combined, along with some reenforcements that ended up to defend. Poland had 1 company of Leopard 2A4 and a company of Marders and a mixed company. Ukraine had BMP 2 and T-80 to counter attack with. The US had 4 companies of M1A2 and M2A3. Had several AH-64D flying along with 4 drones (dirtside plastic helos) and 2 Predators MQ-1 and a Reaper MQ-9. There was Arty support as well.

The Polish forces were on the NATO left flank and fairly quickly lost momentum due to causalities. The Ukrainians were hurt and then fell behind the Polish force and the US forces. The protected rear area against a Russian helo-borne attack/landing. The US forces did real well…pushed through with 4 companies of M1A2's, plus infantry support. Took a large hill and moved to the left toward a large town and where the Russians had been spotted in woodline…exchanging fire and socking it to the Russians… YEAH!!!

Then below the crest of the hill, the Russians had about 20 T-90 (or T-80), which came upon the crest and fired in the rear of M1A2 tanks. Detroying 2 companies of US tanks. The US did have another company coming up on the hill, which really hurt the Russians. A lot of buring metal, rubber, tanks and people…. Suprised that the US commander did not send any unit (platoon, AH-64D, or UAV?) forward to look down into the valley and plain below or to check the road a mile down for military traffic.

Fun game for the 10-12 guys that played. I had fun running it."

swammeyjoe29 Jul 2015 2:20 p.m. PST


What rules did you use? And what scale were the models? Sounds like a blast!

chrisswim30 Jul 2015 8:22 a.m. PST

Over the 2.5 decades of playing, I have stolen and taken ideas, modified them…that being said FirePower XXI, Combat for the 21st Century. The models are most GHQ, a bunch of CinC, some other companies, including 'kitbashing' and scratchbuilding for a few items. The scale is 1/285, some 1/300.

I am thinking in 2016, possibly do another Russia-Ukraine senario, and/or Chinese, perhaps a landing, perhaps taking and fighting for an airport/airbase. Have 2 hangers now I need to put together, get a couple of airliners, pull out resin aircraft bunkers/hangers. If a landing, use the Aussie Canberra in 1/285 and a USS Tortugas (alittle older), have a few subs, and a USS Freedom and USS Independence (LCS) as modified. Was trying to buy a USS Perry Class frigate….

chrisswim30 Jul 2015 8:24 a.m. PST

If you go to FaceBook: chris's micro armor, then send a PM. You can look at a few pics on FB, then with your email I can send more if you wish.

mdauben09 Sep 2015 6:21 a.m. PST

What a bunch of Negative Nancys!

The OP was not asking for realistic threat assessments, he was just suggesting a what-if scenario and asking for suggestions on how to run it. I just see this as a current day extention of traditional Cold War gaming, and no one ever let the fact that such fighting never happened, or the potential for nuclear escalation, deter them from playing such scenarios.

UshCha09 Sep 2015 10:39 p.m. PST

+Looking soley at senarios they will always be the same. Key points in the road network and possibly as it may have less good road infrastucture rail notes. That covers bridges, streches of road over poor going. Motorways as big armies need lots of logistics. Railway sideings etc.This would hinder any attacker.

Capture of "friendly" urban areas as they to some extent reduce the imact of high technology. With one eye on the future any areas of resouce, be it oil, coal or manufactureing. This is no different to any other war. Have fun gaming and add a bit of Russian Technology like a TeminAtor or two to see how it would stack up againt an NATO force.

It does beg the question how do you model a thermobaric missile credibly ;-).

Mako1110 Sep 2015 10:30 p.m. PST

Okay, let's go at this again.

NATO, et al will write off Ukraine, as we did Crimea.

We might be convinced to provide some arms there, if Putin overplays his hand. A/T missiles and Stingers, possibly. Though of course with the latter, we'll worry that maybe they might fall into the hands of the wrong people, and be used against civilians in the EU, USA, or other locations – that'll probably nix those.

Perhaps we (meaning the CIA) might dig up and refurbish some old Russian Manpads, and provide those for anti-air support, since they'll be harder to trace back to the USA, if things go wrong.

I seriously doubt Russia/Putin will go up against Poland, or Germany.

He does want to break NATO up though, in order to make it irrelevant, so Russia can fulfill its true potential on the European continent (there's a long article about that, which is worth searching out).

I can see the whole Crimea/Eastern Ukraine scenario repeating, perhaps with a few new twists, in the little Baltic States, and Putin will apply pressure, or work to "protect" ethnic Russians. Of course, perhaps some won't want that, but the Spetznaz agents will insist they do.

That's the real flashpoint, in my book, and seems to be getting some major attention from Putin and the Russians.

If he decides to have his forces go in (probably unlikely), or if "little green men" (more likely), show up in the region, they'll have his support.

Of course, Putin will blame the West for all this, and threaten to use nukes to defend against NATO aggression.

This game really needs multiple players to act as leaders for the various countries, and to have their own competing interests in events in the Baltics. There needs to be stiff scenario consequences to make them really fearful of possible Russian actions. Not sure how to do that, but it seems to me that would be an interesting dynamic to add to the game, in addition to any ground, aerial, or naval battles.

Perhaps everyone playing has to buy the winning side a very expensive dinner, if they "lose the game".

Tgunner12 Sep 2015 1:27 p.m. PST

Why would we send Stingers anyway? It's not like Putin is rolling all over the Ukraine using the vaunted Russian Air Force! SAMs have put the Ukrainian air force out of action and the "rebels" have to have at least a veneer of being fed up locals, so no jets for them. If any appeared in the skies over the Ukraine then it would be terribly obvious that Russia is really behind this war and that's something Putin can't allow.

So, it's artillery!

ATGMs would be nice, but I think the Ukrainians have plenty of those and tanks. Artillery might be the help they really need. Training in fire support, counter battery operations, and maybe some SSMs like MLRS and so on. I think a nice mix of DPICM and FASCAM would put some serious hurt on a "rebel" armored column. Maybe some attack choppers could help too.

Scenario wise I would agree more with a Russian overreach in the Baltics or somewhere else similar. That could suck in NATO with the US into a conventional war. I think Modern Warfare magazine has an upcoming title on this subject in early 2016. That game could have the scenario that you're looking for.

piper90912 Sep 2015 8:03 p.m. PST

How either side could accept a conventional defeat without going nuclear is always the indigestible element in these scenarios -- I have the same problem when I try to construct an Axis & Allies WWIII scenario for, say, 1948 or 1949. One side starts to lose and next thing you know, the atom bombs are falling and then, to paraphrase Jim Dunnigan back in the 1970s when he wrote about the old SPI "what if" wargames like NATO and Red Star/White Star, "to simulate thermonuclear war, douse the game map with lighter fluid and toss on a match."

Mako1114 Sep 2015 1:43 a.m. PST

We have accepted conventional defeats to far less capable foes, fairly regularly, without going nuclear, so I really don't see that as a problem.

We have lots of historical precedent for that.

I suspect Putin might even be radical enough to pop a tactical nuke, or two, if he thought it was really in his best interest.

He'll certainly make more threats about that (as he and his generals have done in the past), if he decides he really does want the Baltics back, and/or wants to break up NATO for good, which some believe is his true aim (I agree with that premise).

Even Gorby is getting in on the shrill rhetoric from Russia, warning of dire consequences over the sanctions being imposed on them, due to the illegal annexation of Crimea, and continued support for hostilities in Eastern Ukraine.

Putin wouldn't even have to pop the nuke over a population center, or an army to get his point across. He could just detonate one at sea, to press home the point he's serious.

He'll know with 99.5% certainty that we won't use nukes back in retaliation, since that would possibly cause Armageddon, so will win the poker game, since most, if not all the others will fold.

His people are threatening Sweden militarily, with some sort of vague reprisals, if they decide to join NATO. That happened just last week, again, but has been ongoing for some time now as well, and apparently someone in the Swedish leadership is calling their Russian ambassador on the carpet over that, and asking what is meant by their threats.

The Russians have also made similar, thinly veiled threats to Denmark, and Finland too fairly recently.

Mako1114 Sep 2015 9:26 a.m. PST

If Russia decides to take over the rest of Ukraine, they'll want/need aircover.

That means helos and aircraft, which Manpads are good at bringing down.

Tgunner14 Sep 2015 9:45 a.m. PST

He'll know with 99.5% certainty that we won't use nukes back in retaliation, since that would possibly cause Armageddon, so will win the poker game, since most, if not all the others will fold.

The bluff. It's the play of the aggressive player who has crap in his hands. He bids aggressively and acts like he has a full house when he doesn't have even a pair of deuces. The others either call the bluff or they fold. I think that's Putin to a "T".

If Russia decides to take over the rest of Ukraine, they'll want/need aircover.

That means helos and aircraft, which Manpads are good at bringing down.

And that's a whole different ball game. Once that happens we've gone from futbol to football!! A vaguely similar game with VERY different rules.. and football is FULL CONTACT!! Putin is still playing futbol so ADA isn't really necessary. But once the Russian Air Force jumps in the we will have a very different war.

Maybe we should give the Ukraine our SAMs so the game stays futbol?

BadSyntax10 Oct 2015 5:47 a.m. PST

Sorry to be a little late, but this is the most recent thread I found that mentions the FirePower XXI rules.

Who makes these FirePower XXI rules? Or better yet, how do I go about finding a copy?


Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.