According to this video on Soviet Russia, the Russian traded submarines and warships to the Pepsico company for three million dollars worth of Pepsi, One of the claims is that the company commanded the 6th biggest military in the world when this happened, is that factual? The video does not cite sources.


No, and there's scant primary evidence the sale went through.

Pepsi had a navy the same way a scrap dealer who is offered old tanks for scrap has an army.

It certainly wasn't the 6th largest military. That doesn't make sense. How do you compare ships to men, tanks, and airplanes? Even if we're generous, it wasn't the 6th largest navy either.

Searching for the source of this proved circular, but I found a contemporary source in a NY Times opinion piece FOREIGN AFFAIRS; Soviets Buy American.

Pepsico recently bought from the Soviets 17 submarines (for a measly $150,000 each), a cruiser, a frigate and a destroyer. They are being resold for scrap.

They had likely been stripped of their armament and it's unlikely they could sail under their own power. They would have to be towed to be scrapped. Pepsi likely only brokered a deal to scrap them using its international connections, and long relationship with the Soviet Union.

It's unclear if this deal ever actually happened. Nobody mentions which submarines? Which cruiser? Which frigate? History Matters claims it did not, it was just an offer; all Soviet ships scrapped in that era are accounted for. Unfortunately they give no sources.

Details about a major surface combatant like a cruiser being sold to Pepsi and scrapped should be easy to find in the ship's histories, there's a limited number of possibilities. I can't find mention of any Sverdlov, Kresta, or Kynda being sold to Pepsi.

Instead, the Soviets built civilian ships and traded them for Pepsi.

But let's say they did, and the ships weren't junk.

Would it be the 6th largest navy in 1989? By what measure? Nobody ever seems to say. By number of ships? Meaningless. By tonnage? We don't know what these ships were. For the cruiser my best guess is it was of the numerous Sverdlov-class, many of which were decommissioned and scraped around 1989, 13,000 tons. Soviet diesel submarines were about 2,500 tons, 4,000 for a destroyer, 3,000 for a frigate making about 62,500 tons.

Any way you slice it, the answer is no. This was the peak of the Cold War. We can start with the five largest navies of the Cold War.

  1. US
  2. UK
  3. France
  4. Soviet Union
  5. China

We only need one more to knock Pepsi Navy out of sixth place. Here's a bunch in no particular order.

(Folks are welcome to do the math on the tonnage if they're not satisfied.)

  • It's obvious that PepsiCo wasn't actually able to wage war with its fleet and no one claims it was war-ready, it's just a tongue in cheek way to present the situation. Regarding the question of whether a fleet consisting of 17 submarines, a cruiser, a frigate and a destroyer were the 6th largest navy in 1989, I don't feel that your answer answers it.
    – SIMEL
    Feb 7 at 10:43

It's true.

Russians love Pepsi. The USSR used to trade litre-for-litre, vodka for Pepsi.

But there was a limit to how many Americans wanted to buy Stolichnaya, so by 1989 a new source of payment had to be found. So …

… the Russians did what any country would do in desperate times: They traded Pepsi a fleet of subs and boats for a whole lot of soda. The new agreement included 17 submarines, a cruiser, a frigate, and a destroyer.

The combined fleet was traded for three billion dollars worth of Pepsi. Yes, you read that right. Russia loves their Pepsi.

The historical exchange caused Pepsi to become the 6th most powerful military in the world, for a moment, before they sold the fleet to a Swedish company for scrap recycling.

How Pepsi briefly became the 6th largest military in the world — Business Insider

  • 8
    A different source repeating the same claim without further evidence doesn’t make it true.
    – mmeent
    Feb 6 at 0:50

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