Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts says any England fans looking for trouble at the World Cup face up to 15 years behind bars.
Fewer than 20,000 fans are expected to make the journey, compared with more than 100,000 at Euro 2016 in France.
Some of those travelling to Russia have said they want “revenge” after Three Lions supporters were attacked by Russian hooligans two years ago.
But followers of Gareth Southgate’s men could wind up inside some of Europe’s most brutal jails – including the infamous Black Dolphin Prison.
Mr Roberts – the UK’s football policing lead – said: “The penalties for disorder and violence in Russia are comparatively harsh compared to ours, and a few years in a Russian prison would not be an attractive option for any fans thinking of causing trouble.
“Should anyone cause trouble in Russia we will again have an investigation team who will prepare banning orders for when they return to the UK – once they have finished their sentence in Russia.”
Around 2,000 fans from England and Wales are subject to football banning orders, meaning they must hand in their passports to police for the duration of big tournaments.
They last between three and 10 years but some will expire before the World Cup, leaving troublemakers free to travel.
Mr Roberts is calling on English courts to play a part in keeping thugs at home.
He added: “We would of course encourage the courts to be aware of the risks we face this summer at another tournament.”
The death of a police officer at a match involving Russia’s Spartak Moscow has heightened fears over the threat of violence.
In Marseille two summers ago, pictured right, two England fans were beaten into comas while French police used baton charges and tear gas.
Russian President Vladimir Putin last week called on his own police to “act appropriately in any given situation”.
But Mr Roberts fears officers could be heavy-handed with genuine supporters.
He said: “I don’t envisage England supporters going there to cause trouble and I would be wary of the claims of people online talking things up.
“The danger this presents is that it will give the impression troublemakers are going to Russia, when they are not.
But that could influence the way genuine supporters are viewed over there.”