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Russia & CIS

Putin's new decrees: Martial law, levels of readiness and territorial defence

Pravda.ru / Russia - Wed, 19/10/2022 - 18:44
On October 19, Putin signed a decree to implement martial law in four regions of Russia. He explained this by the fact that Ukrainian forces continue shelling the new Russian regions and committing acts of sabotage. According to the Russian authorities, the terrorist attack on the Crimean Bridge was carried out by the special services of Ukraine, he also said. "In this regard, let me remind you that in the Donetsk People's Republic, the Luhansk People's Republic, as well as in the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, before they joined Russia, martial law regime was already in effect. Now we need to formalize this regime within the framework of Russian legislation,” Putin said. Martial law shall be introduced starting from October 20 midnight. The government, as well as the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Federal Security Service and the National Guard, must submit proposals on measures that are planned to be applied in the territories where martial law has been declared within three days.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Accession of new territories: Billions of dollars in expenses and trillions in revenues

Pravda.ru / Russia - Thu, 29/09/2022 - 18:25
The accession of new territories to Russia is justifiable from the economic point of view and will not have a negative impact on the Russian budget, the Kremlin said. As Russia readies to grow even larger, experts try to calculate how much it will cost the Russian budget to rebuild cities and restore peaceful life in the new territories. Some others try to find out how much profit the new territories will bring. The Washington Post announced the approximate cost of mineral deposits in the new regions — about 12.4 trillion dollars.
Categories: Russia & CIS

What to expect from Putin's Address to Federal Assembly on September 30?

Pravda.ru / Russia - Mon, 26/09/2022 - 13:42
Putin's Annual Address to the Federal Assembly is scheduled for September 30. Kremlin sources say it will become even more historic and globally important than the 2014 address for the return of Crimea. Mass media and experts make their own suggestions about the content of Putin's speech that he is going to deliver to the Federal Assembly on September 30. There are a number of versions:
Categories: Russia & CIS

Mikhail Gorbachev: The man who saved the world to Western applause of lies

Pravda.ru / Russia - Wed, 31/08/2022 - 16:24
Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU in 1985-1991, the first and last president of the USSR, died on Tuesday evening, August 30, 2022. Gorbachev personifies a lot of things for both Russia and other nations of the world: perestroika, glasnost, the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Warsaw Pact Organization, a bloc created as a counterweight to NATO. Gorbachev took a course to improve relations with the West and contributed to the unification of Germany. At the same time, there was a series of bloody conflicts in the USSR during his rule. Many hold Gorbachev accountable for the violent dispersal of the rally in Tbilisi in 1989, when 21 people were killed. The same applies to events in Vilnius in January 1991. The results of Gorbachev's era still raise a lot of questions and debates. Some hold him up for the democratization of the regime, while others blame the politician for the collapse of the USSR. It is worthy of note that all the world leaders, with whom Mikhail Gorbachev had worked are now dead:
Categories: Russia & CIS

Putin: Russia is building the new world order right now

Pravda.ru / Russia - Fri, 17/06/2022 - 17:41
According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, authorities of Western countries cling to the shadows of the past and believe that the dominance of the West will be constantly preserved. However, nothing lasts forever, Putin said. The changes that are currently taking place in the world are fundamental in their nature. The world will not be as it was before, President Vladimir Putin said in his speech at the plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. "It is erroneous to believe that one can sit and wait when the time of turbulent changes goes by, when everything goes back to where it was. It won't," Putin said.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Dmitry Medvedev goes on emotional rampage about the West

Pravda.ru / Russia - Tue, 07/06/2022 - 18:20
Dmitry Medvedev's aggressive post on social media, in which he used politically incorrect vocabulary to express hatred of the West, caused mixed reactions. Dmitry Medvedev becomes Russia's "hawk" No.1 Dmitry Medvedev, who currently serves as Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation and heads the United Russia party, ex-president of the Russian Federation, expressed his point of view about Russia's relations with the West. "I hate them (Westerners). They are bastards and degenerates. They want us, Russia, dead. As long as I live, I will do my best to make them disappear,” Medvedev wrote on his Telegram channel.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia loses interest in Japan's opinion on Kuril Islands

Pravda.ru / Russia - Mon, 25/04/2022 - 19:25
Russia will develop Kurils Islands intensively. Interest in Tokyo's opinion gone. Russia will respond to Japan's alleged illegal occupation of the Southern Kurils. The response will be, as is customary to say, asymmetrical. But Tokyo will clearly not like it. Earlier, the Japanese Foreign Ministry published its annual Diplomatic Bluebook report on its website. The report called the southern part of the Kuril Islands "illegally occupied". Tokyo has avoided such a definition since 2003. But almost two decades later it has returned to it, effectively ruling out any chance of negotiations with Moscow for the foreseeable future. The talks have been complicated and hardly ever fruitful, but they are not going to continue in any form now.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Midrats: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Russian Military Reform - Thu, 14/04/2022 - 17:27

I was back on the Blog Talk Radio show Midrats this week, talking about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s strategy, what might happen next, and consequences for Russia’s domestic politics. The recording is now available on the show’s website. The show description is as follows:

Episode 621: Russian Military SITREP with Dr. Dmitry Gorenburg

For over 11-years, once a year or so today’s guest has joined us on Midrats to discuss the latest military and national security developments with Russia.

With the war waging in Ukraine and in the process of transitioning to a new phase, there couldn’t be a better time to hear from Dr. Dmitry Gorenburg who will be with us for the full hour in a wide ranging discussion about the buildup to war, and the important takeaways so far.

Russia pegs the ruble to gold in game-changing move

Pravda.ru / Russia - Wed, 13/04/2022 - 15:08
The Bank of Russia will continue buying gold at a fixed price of 5,000 rubles ($59) per 1 gram until June 30. Russia may thus have a chance to return to the gold standard for the first time in over a hundred years. According to BullionStar Singapore precious metals analyst Ronan Manley, Russia's decision to switch to rubles in settlements with counterparties will entail significant consequences for the Russian currency, for the US dollar, and for the entire global economy. According to him, by pegging the ruble to gold, which is traded in US dollars, the Bank of Russia set a minimum price for the ruble in US dollar terms.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russian Media Analysis, Issue 12, March 25, 2022

Russian Military Reform - Mon, 28/03/2022 - 16:01

Here are the abstracts from the latest issue of our Russian Media Analysis newsletter. You can also download the full text PDF version.

1. INVASION OF UKRAINE: NATO STRATEGY

Russian analysts are still focusing on the issue of NATO membership for Ukraine. Many point out that the ongoing war, while leading to a de facto defense arrangement between the “collective West” and Ukraine, has also hindered it from formally joining the alliance. Many authors believe that this is a benefit to Russia, although it has come at the cost of NATO unity and an amplification of arms supplies to Ukraine.

2. INVASION OF UKRAINE: EU STRATEGY

Connected to, although distinct from, the issue of Ukraine’s NATO ambitions, is the desire by its political leadership to join the EU. While Russian commentators are broadly pessimistic about how much defense cooperation there now is between Ukraine and the West, they are more optimistic that Ukraine’s EU bid will remain stalled for the foreseeable future. Although both sides have made many symbolic gestures to signal an agreement for membership down the road, concrete steps are harder to find, and the internal political machinations of the EU will further slow down integration.

3. INVASION OF UKRAINE: RESPONSES TO WESTERN SANCTIONS

More than a dozen articles offer responses to international sanctions against Russia, featuring reactions ranging from optimism to pessimism, and including skepticism and determination to wreak economic havoc on the West. Some serve to reassure the Russian public that even though foreign industries are leaving, they will still be able to access certain goods. Others discuss the prospect of more serious sanctions, such as EU bans on Russian oil and gas imports, or a U.S. sea-route trade embargo against Russia. The authors argue that such measures would introduce a number of cascading effects that would harm countries “hostile to Russia.”

4. INVASION OF UKRAINE: RESPONSES TO NATO MILITARY AID

The details and implications of NATO and U.S. military aid and efforts to arm Ukraine are the subject of several articles. It is evident that there is concern for the unified support that Ukraine is getting from the West, but there remains a confidence in the narrative surrounding Russian capabilities against the perceived lackluster quality of provisions going to Ukraine.

5. INVASION OF UKRAINE: U.S. NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Several articles address U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s decision to cancel a Minuteman III missile test following President Putin’s announcement that Russia put its nuclear forces on a “special combat regime duty.” While some experts characterize the test cancellation as an effort to avoid nuclear escalation, one article suspects that it helped avoid drawing attention to the stagnant U.S. nuclear modernization process. An additional article takes issue with the optics and messaging that the U.S. is responsibly conducting nuclear policy, when it has conducted “mock nuclear strikes” in recent exercises and increased the frequency of nuclear-capable aircraft flights near Russia’s border.

6. INVASION OF UKRAINE: PERCEPTIONS OF A NO-FLY ZONE

As Ukraine’s request for a West-enforced no-fly zone remains unmet, Russian commentators caution against the implementation of anything remotely close to it and highlight the escalatory nature of such potential actions by NATO and the U.S..

7. INVASION OF UKRAINE: UKRAINE AND NUCLEAR WEAPONS CONSPIRACY

A recent issue of the Ministry of Defense newspaper posits the conspiracy theory that “Ukraine’s scientific establishment has sufficient competencies to create a nuclear explosive device.” The content of this article appears to be drawn from a TASS report that cites the Russian intelligence agency SVR as a source of claims that Ukraine had an advanced missile and nuclear weapon program.

8. INVASION OF UKRAINE: THE BIOLABS CONSPIRACY

Coverage of the conspiracy theories about U.S. DTRA reference laboratories in Ukraine continues to proliferate across Russian media sources. It now includes official newspapers as well as MOD and MFA officials. Coverage has also begun to note statements made by Chinese government officials on this issue.

9. CHINESE-RUSSIAN RELATIONS

A number of articles in the Russian press assess the state of the Russian-Chinese relationship as well as China’s diplomatic and economic relations with the United States and the broader West. Many commentators are quick to point out that China is resistant to following along with the West’s sanctions regime against Russia, although also acknowledging that there remains much to be desired in terms of China’s closeness to Russia itself.

10. SCANDINAVIAN COUNTRIES AND NATO

The ambitions of Scandinavian countries to join NATO continue to be a worry for Russian commentators. Yet given the scale of hostilities in Ukraine, experts are quick to note that parallels with Ukraine-and any potential Russian reaction to new Scandinavian member-states-are improper. Although Russia assesses the membership of Sweden and Finland to NATO in a very negative light, it is clear that this issue is not an existential one compared to Russian perceptions of Ukraine’s or Georgia’s entrance into the alliance.

11. IRAN AND THE JCPOA

Russian commentators have maintained a close watch over U.S. actions and engagement with other OPEC+ and oil suppliers ever since the U.S. sanctioned Russian oil. Analysts have focused on the U.S.-Iran relationship and the relevance of Iranian oil to the JCPOA negotiations. They remain critical of U.S. moral flexibility and assert that the “special military operation” in Ukraine has had a profound impact on long-term global security, as is evidenced by the changing oil environment around the globe.

12. FOREIGN ACQUISITION OF U.S. ARMS

Several articles focus on and are critical of the proliferation of U.S. weaponry abroad. They include the legal sale of arms to Egypt and the resulting arms capabilities of the Taliban after the U.S. exit from Afghanistan.

13. U.S. STRATEGY IN THE ASIA PACIFIC

Amidst the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian media maintain a close watch on U.S. policy developments in other areas of the world, especially the Indo-Pacific region.

14. INFORMATION WARFARE

Two articles address alleged acts of “information warfare” against Russia, tending to take on a defensive tone about Moscow’s leadership and the progress of the “special military operation.” The first article responds to recent quotes from U.S. Department of Defense spokesman John Kirby, who noted Russia’s history of use and potential future use of chemical and biological weapons. The second article details alleged activities from the 72nd Center for Information and Psychological Operations (CIPO) of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which the article claims was trained by the UK.

15. U.S. AND EUROPEAN MILITARY CAPABILITIES

Several articles report on developments of U.S. and NATO capabilities and weapons systems. One article reports on funding cuts to the U.S. Air Force’s first hypersonic missile, the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW). A second article reports on a reorganization of the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment that puts combat groups on the first and second island chains of the Pacific at a moment’s notice. A third article reports on Germany’s decision to purchase 35 American F-35A fighter jets to replace the Tornado fighter-bombers it uses to carry American B61 nuclear weapons.

Russia heads for the affiliation of the Ukraine

Pravda.ru / Russia - Fri, 25/03/2022 - 15:10
Russia has set a course for the affiliation of the Ukraine, the main question is — within what borders. This is evidenced by the following facts: 1. Statement by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who said that the Ukrainian leadership has missed its chance for a sovereign state.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russian Media Analysis, Issue 11, March 11, 2022

Russian Military Reform - Fri, 11/03/2022 - 15:31

Here are the abstracts from the latest issue of our Russian Media Analysis newsletter. You can also download the full text PDF version.

1. Invasion of Ukraine: Putin’s speech

In a February 24 speech, carried in full by Krasnaya Zvezda, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin gave remarks that sought to provide background and justification to Russian actions in Ukraine. As his past speeches, this one offered an extensive overview of his grievances against the United States and the West and what he perceives as disregard for Russian interests in the post-Cold War order.

2. Invasion of Ukraine: Justifications

Five articles provide various justifications for Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine. Several identify defending the people of the Donbas region as the primary factor for the invasion, echoing President Putin’s justification of protecting people “who have been subjected to abuse [and] genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years.” Others argue that the main reason for the invasion is to protect Russia from the military threat posed by Ukraine’s increasing ties to NATO. Articles also claim that there are Western information operations concerning the motives of Moscow’s military actions.

3. Invasion of Ukraine: Russian Domestic Perceptions

The views of the Russian population on the conflict are still undergoing initial polling, and divergences are expected across polling companies. One company, Russian Field, conducted a poll that Novye Izvestiya reported as being particularly supportive of the conflict. The poll was on the larger side, with 2,000 respondents across Russia.

4. Invasion of Ukraine: Discussions of Western Strategy

A large number of articles discuss Russian perceptions of Western strategy towards Russia and towards the conflict in Ukraine. Articles published before the invasion focus on the role of the United States in fomenting the conflict, and highlight US weaknesses that made Vladimir Putin decide that now was a good time to push to renegotiate the post-Cold War global order. Articles published in the early days of the invasion argue that the West is in the process of realizing that it underestimated Russian power and resolve and is looking to salvage its position.

5. Invasion of Ukraine: Nuclear Issues

Several articles discuss nuclear issues. An article in Topwar.ru argues that the US is potentially considering the infliction of a first disarming strike against Russia. An article in Nezavisimoe Voennoe Obozrenie (NVO) discusses the possibility of Belarusian and Ukrainian nuclear weapons. In Gazeta.ru, Irina Al’shaeva writes about the “special combat duty regime” requested by Russia’s president Vladimir Putin for the Russian strategic forces. A Novye Izvestiya article points out that open source researchers have been tracking the movements of the US Boeing E-4B AWACS aircraft on the flight from Lincoln, Nebraska, after the Russian initiation of the Russian war in Ukraine.

6. Invasion of Ukraine: The Threat from NATO

Russian media also focused on the direct threat that NATO poses to Russia and to regional stability in Europe. The articles focused on the destabilizing effect of NATO force deployments near Russia’s border, NATO’s history of using military campaigns to achieve its geopolitical goals, and the risk of a broader conflict between Russia and NATO.

7. Invasion of Ukraine: NATO Enlargement

The potential further enlargement of NATO is both a cause and consequence of the conflict with Ukraine in the eyes of several Russian writers. Framed as a genuine threat to Russia, articles discuss the possibility of Scandinavian states joining the alliance as well as states in the Balkans such as Kosovo. Other writers reiterate the Russian line that NATO was never supposed to expand in the first place.

8. Invasion of Ukraine: Responses to NATO Military Aid

Russian media reflect a variation in attitudes on NATO military aid in Ukraine. Numerous commentators doubt the utility of Western assistance and dismiss it as disinformation; they say that the West is only providing older arms and materials, and criticize the selfish nature of overall Western involvement in the conflict. Other journalists express legitimate concern about the impact that such significant aid could cause in Ukraine. There is an unprecedented coordination of support, and it seems there is some surprise among journalists about the swift nature of such collaboration.

9. Invasion of Ukraine: Ukrainian EU and NATO Membership

Ukrainian membership in EU and NATO is still a point of interest in the media, especially amidst an active invasion in Ukraine. Several articles posit that an acceptance of Ukraine, if it occurs at all, is in the very distant future, especially considering the presence of Russian troops. Others highlight Ukraine’s application as a forced response to Russian assistance in Donetsk and Luhansk and caution that Georgia and Moldova may be likely for EU candidate status as well. Overall, there is a shared opinion that Ukrainian membership in EU and NATO is not out of the question but has been made significantly more complex with current Russian activity in Ukraine.

10. Invasion of Ukraine: Responses to Western Sanctions

Numerous articles in the Russian press discuss the recent sanctions imposed on Russia and largely dismiss the significance of their long-term impact on Russian society, stating that they are more damaging to the West. Media commentators even welcome the challenge, stating that such independence will fix issues of Russia’s import dependence and brain drain. Additionally, the Russian media analyze the challenges that the imposed sanctions will cause for specific Russian industry, such as shipbuilding and aviation capabilities and technology and computer chip development.

11. Invasion of Ukraine: Russia’s Future in the New Order

Several articles focus on how Russia and its role in the world will change in the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine. These articles suggest that sanctions will cause some pain but the sacrifice will be worthwhile to achieve the goal of ending the threat posed by an anti-Russian Ukraine and restoring Russia’s greatness and sovereignty. The possibility of increasing internal repression to ensure national unity is also discussed in a positive light.

12. Invasion of Ukraine: Role of Neighboring States

States in the immediate vicinity of Ukraine are seen as potentially vital interlocutors in both the positive and negative sense for several Russian commentators. Poland and the wider east-central European NATO member-states are viewed as having taken a turn towards a decisive rearmament and preparation for future conflict. Meanwhile, Belarus holds its position as a key Russian ally, underlining its important role for Moscow as a constituent part of the Russian-Belarusian “Union State” and very likely a further consolidation of de facto Russian control over more elements of Belarus’ statehood and independence.

13. Invasion of Ukraine: Turkey’s Position

Russian commentators remain concerned about Turkey’s role in the Russo-Ukrainian War and the geopolitical fallout from the conflict. Perspectives vary, from those who note Turkey’s unwillingness to go along with the full spectrum of sanctions proposed by European and North American states, to others who reiterate the concern about the longer-term designs of Turkey’s leadership in the broader Black Sea, Eastern Mediterranean, and even Central Asian states. Observers are particularly wary of Turkey’s naval presence, which for some is described as a genuine threat to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, alongside Turkey’s ability to block passage through the straits. The growing role of Turkey’s Bayraktar TB2 combat drones also add impetus to commentator concerns.

14. Invasion of Ukraine: The Biolabs Conspiracy

Several articles once again raise the conspiracy theory about the role of US DTRA reference labs in the former Soviet Union states, but this time in Ukraine, referencing recent coverage in the UK newspaper Expose. In an article in Sovetskaya Rossia, Valentin Kasatonov argues that “US military biolabs in Ukraine” are the reasons for Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine. In Topwar.ru, Yevgeniy Fedorov provides more conspiracy theories that the labs are a part of growing NATO infrastructure in Ukraine.

15. China’s Geopolitical Position

Russian commentators have noted the parallels between Russia’s ongoing intervention into Ukraine—and the West’s reaction—and China’s presumed geopolitical designs for Taiwan. Some argue that while such parallels exist, they do not necessarily mean that China intends to support Russia’s goals in Ukraine. Indeed, they argue that it is possible that this could be a major test of the strength of the Russian-Chinese relationship at the highest levels. Others are more sanguine about the relationship and argue that this provides a potential test-case for a future Chinese effort to retake Taiwan.

16. Russia-Nicaragua Relations

Although most commentary in Russia remains focused on events in Eurasia and Eastern Europe, some look to other parts of the world as a means of shoring up the global picture of Russia’s alliances and international relationships. An article in NVO looks to the political regime in Nicaragua. It argues that there is a friendly face in this Central American country, and that Russia can use it as “something [with which] to respond to US pressure in Europe” by further improving relations with this “soft underbelly of the United States.”

17. Information and Hybrid Warfare

Several articles discuss how Russians understand the US/NATO approaches to information warfare and hybrid warfare. An article by Aleksandr Bartosh focuses on what he explains is a hybrid warfare in US and NATO strategies. An article in Krasnaya Zvezda focuses on the Western concept of “cognitive warfare.” In an article in Voenno-Promyshlennyi Kur’er (VPK), Sergey Korotkov argues that the “heat of information (hybrid) war [against Russia] has reached a critical point.” In another VPK article, Leontiy Shevtsov analyzes what he calls “US and NATO information warfare operations.”

18. Shortcomings of the US Military

One article responds to US Navy chief of staff Michael Gilday’s recent comments that the Navy needs a fleet of more than 500 ships to meet its commitments in the forthcoming National Defense Strategy, noting that US shipbuilding capacity will be a major obstacle to reaching that goal. A second article examines the evolution of US aircraft carriers, and argues that the capabilities of current air wing configurations to counter an enemy are “significantly lower than they were” in the 1970s and 1980s. A third article examines US missile and air defense capabilities, arguing that capabilities were inefficiently developed due to US overconfidence in its pilots and aircraft.

19. US and European Military Capabilities

Three articles discuss developments of specific US and European capabilities and systems. One article discusses the US Navy’s public launch of its Snakehead underwater drone, “which apparently is being created in analogue to the Russian Poseidon submarine platform.” A second article discusses the US Space Force’s Deep space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC) project, which “will allow the delivery of accurate strikes against enemy satellites, and will also complete the formation of a unified system for coordinating the actions of the US armed forces around the planet.” A third article discusses the “Eurodrone” project between Germany, France, Italy, and Spain.

Upcoming panel: Russia’s War on Ukraine

Russian Military Reform - Thu, 10/03/2022 - 02:37

I’m going to be participating in the following panel tomorrow. Great lineup, encourage those interested to sign up.

Putin Invades Ukraine: Regional Fallout?

Russian Military Reform - Wed, 09/03/2022 - 14:38

Yesterday, together with Pavel Baev I participated in a Marshall Center panel on the regional fallout of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. My colleague Graeme Herd put together the following summary of the discussion…

This is a summary of the discussion at the latest workshop of the current series of online Russia Seminar Series (RSS) webinars held on March 8, 2022 by the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies (GCMC) in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. The summary reflects the overall tenor of the discussion, and no specific element necessarily should be presumed to be the view of either of the participants.

Context

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had a devastating impact on humanitarian conditions within Ukraine itself. Critical national infrastructure in Ukraine is under attack. Ukraine’s transport system, hospitals and communication networks are being degraded. The UNHCR reports that over 2 million Ukrainians, mainly women and children, have become refugees in neighboring countries, particularly Poland. At the same time, Russian military advances in Ukraine appear to have stalled in most operational theatres. Explanations for this unexpected outcome include logistical difficulties, poor planning, long and vulnerable supply lines, and an inability to execute combined arms warfare effectively. In places where Russia has taken territory, a hostile civil population protests in the rear, even in Russian-speaking regions such as Kherson. Can captured territory be held?

However, the picture is fluid and Russia is not yet fully committed. While Russia will seek to bombard the pivots and hubs used to supply military materiel through Poland and Romania, its usable precision guided weapon stockpile for this “special military operation” is fast depleting, though reserves are available for operations against NATO. Ukraine is able to create reserve battalions around Lviv and receive air defense and anti-tank capabilities. Poland has offered to hand over its entire inventory of 23 MiG-29 fighter aircraft to the US at Ramstein Air Base in Germany for potential transfer to Ukraine pending a NATO decision. These combat aircraft can be flown by Ukrainian pilots. Romania, Slovakia and Hungary also have MiG-29s in their inventories and some or all of these could also be provided to Ukraine. Russia does not have the troop to task ratio to occupy an unwilling Ukraine. And Ukrainian resistance is growing, with the calculation in Kyiv that any deal made today will not be as good as the one made a week from now.

This deadlock is dangerous as Putin needs a “special military operation” victory to support his “everything going according to plan” narrative. Thus, if “victory is not possible and defeat is not an option” – if the choice is between bloody debilitating occupation or withdrawal – then Putin may seek to escalate by opening new fronts to present the Russian public with distracting mini-breakthroughs and victories in the wider region. Short-term risks in the Black Sea region appears highest. Longer-term risks include disruptions to energy and food exports from Russia and Ukraine, and conflicts around Exclusive Economic Zones in the Black Sea, for example, as borders are redrawn but not recognized. This summary identifies short and longer term spillover risks in both regions.

Black Sea Region

Had the “special military operation” actually gone to plan, Kyiv would have fallen within 2-4 days, and in a “best case” scenario from a Russian perspective, resistance would implode and Ukraine suffer sullen occupation. At this point the risks of spillover to Moldova and Georgia would have been much higher. The ideological narrative constructed by Putin around “Slavic unity” and regathering “ancient Russian lands” may have included Transnistria, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. If not, then this would have suggested EU membership was off the cards for both states and imposed neutrality (“demilitarization”) would have been attempted by Russia.

However, without first capturing Odesa (still possible through a combined air assault and amphibious landing operation) and finding troops to occupy Ukraine in the context of a hostile and debilitating insurgency, military operations into Moldova do not appear viable. Transnistrian forces themselves have no offensive capability and rail links to Odesa region from Tiraspol are cut. Thus, while in Moldova pro-Russian parties and opposition groups in the breakaway Dniester region and the pro-Russian Gagauzia oppose EU accession, Russia aggression in Ukraine propels the majority of the society to support this westward economic and normative reorientation, as is the case in Georgia.

However, the seizure of Georgian territory is possible. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has been remarkably passive and inactive and still has the reserves and capacity to act. The seizure of Poti region in Georgia is a possibility, supported by Chechen forces formally subordinated to Russia’s Rosgvardia (National Guard) but actually under the control of Ramzan Kadyrov. If Putin’s power weakens, Kadyrov may also plan to act more autonomously into the Pankisi Gorge, even if in the name of Putinism and justified with reference to Russian national goals. In such circumstances, Azerbaijan might look to complete “unfinished business” towards Nagorno-Karabakh.

In Georgia itself, the Russian invasion of Ukraine further polarizes society. There is pressure on Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili and ‘Georgia Dream’ party who have adopted a “neutral” policy towards Russia. Neutrality translates into a policy of not supporting international sanctions and keeping Georgia’s air space open to Russian aircraft. Since 24 February opposition rallies in Tbilisi have protested daily against the Russian invasion outside the Georgian Parliament, demanding: 1. A visa regime with Russia; 2. Banning Russian media/propaganda outlets in Georgia; and 3. Closing Georgia’s airspace to Russia.

The role of Turkey is pivotal. Turkey attempts to avoid alienating Russia by keeping its air space open to Russian commercial flights and not applying sanctions. As a result, Turkey, like Georgia, is not included on the Russian list of hostile states. However, Turkey does send effective military aid (drones) to Ukraine. Turkey, citing Article 19 of the Montreux Convention, has closed the entrance to the Black Sea to the navies of the parties to the conflict. With its “sea bridge” unable to function, Russia is forced to resupply Syria using a more expensive and more limited air bridge. This in turn weakens Russia’s presence in Syria relative to Turkey’s. At the same time, the US and NATO face a difficult choice regarding the sending of combat ships into the Black Sea in support of Bulgaria and Romania. Turkey attempts to dissuade allies from requesting access, but the need to protect two exposed allies is growing.

Baltic Sea Region

The risk of spillovers into the Baltic-Nordic region are less than the Black Sea region, at least in the short-term and while the “active phase” of Russian aggression in Ukraine is ongoing. Risks associated with Kaliningrad proves to be the exception to this general rule. If the closure of air space is joined by cutting rail links to Kaliningrad, then this could generate a Russian kinetic response. In addition, reports of resignations and refusal of Belarusian officers and soldiers to follow orders and deploy to Ukraine suggest that Lukashenka’s regime may be less stable than supposed. Does Russia have the spare capacity to bolster Belarus, when Rosgvardia is needed at home as a praetorian safeguard to quell protest potential in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities in Russia?

The Estonian Center Party has severed ties to the United Russia Party. On 5 March, 103 members of its extended board, with no abstentions, voted to rescind the cooperation protocol signed in 2004. In Latvia, though, the polarization of society is a danger, with pro-Russian supporters using provocative rhetoric to radicalise their potential voters ahead of parliamentary elections. Two potential conflict dates loom – the commemoration of Latvian Legionnaires on 16 March and the Soviet Victory Day on 9 May. Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis has stated that Vilnius has no red lines regarding possible sanctions against Russia – including oil and gas.

Non-aligned Finland and Sweden seek even closer defense cooperation with each other and with NATO. Indeed, the potential for NATO membership has increased and this will lead to heightened tension in medium to long-term. Defense spending is set to increase in all Baltic States. Lithuania adds an extra $0.5bn and its parliament agrees to increase defense spending to 2.5% of GDP. Spending will likely be on deterrent gaps in capabilities necessary to counter Russia’s way of war, such as air defense and drones.

Points of escalation might be driven by the possible use of thermobaric bombs in Kyiv, and/or the slaughter of Ukrainian refugee convoys struggling to reach the Polish border from Lviv. Such horrific violence would stress-test to destruction the ability of NATO member states to achieve all three of its objectives: 1) apply sanctions to Russia and provide humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine; 2) uphold
national interests, democratic values and principles; and 3) avoid miscalculation, spillover and escalation. As RHSS#3 summary noted: “In the context of mass civilian casualties, how does the West calibrate and balance moral principles that reflect its values with pragmatic approaches in line with interests? At what point does “responsibility to protect” trump other considerations?” Almost certainly risk calculus in NATO would change, with a much greater emphasis on alleviating immediate suffering and the “responsibility to protect”.

Conclusions

• The invasion has also shaken the Putin regime in Russia. The Putinist system, born in the violence of the Second Chechen campaign, has grown organically over the last 23 years. It weathered the ‘Moscow Maidan’ protests of 2011-12 and was boosted by the Crimea annexation of 2014. Putin and the players in the system understood the rules of the game, how these rules could be enforced and the necessity of a balance between the normative state, parastatal entities and oligarchs. In 2022, the pressure of sanctions disrupts and destabilizes oligarchs, the business models of parastatal entities and the normative state moves to a war footing, its lead representatives complicit in the war and war crimes.

• In this context, escalation does not have just to be horizontal – a spillover into the wider region – but it can be vertical. The possibility of an accidental radioactive discharge due to Russian attack on nuclear power plant is high. If nuclear signaling is needed, Russia could withdrawal from the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and then promptly stage a nuclear test to intimidate and deter. A low likelihood event involves a Russian “false flag” operation around CBRNE might be considered. A “dirty bomb” fits Russian media narratives that a US-controlled “neo-Nazi” regime would practice genocidal “nuclear terrorism”. The function of this narrative could be to provide a retroactive justification for invasion – prevention of nuclear terrorism – and to place the blame for any nuclear radiation leakage on Kyiv. Such leakages would massively impact on refugee flows westwards. For Putin such flows would be understood in terms of an asymmetric responses by Russia to western pressure.

• Might Putin be tempted to declare martial law or a state of emergency in Russia? Putin may calculate that full mobilization is a necessary means to offset 1) battlefield losses through conscription; 2) economic isolation and rent redistributions to shore up elite support; and 3) evidence the idea that this is an existential fight for Russia, that Ukraine is merely the territory upon which Russia battles the real enemy – NATO. Such reasoning concludes that once battle is joined all measures are justified by Russia if this leads to the defeat of NATO.

• If such reasoning prevails, martial law and mobilization in Russia could prove to be the second and last strategic blunder by Putin. Russian military reforms introduced by Defense Minister Serdyukov 2009-2012 means mass mobilization is not possible – the Russian military does not have the capacity or infrastructure to train such large numbers. Moreover, such a move might precipitate a societal revolt, one in which the Russian security services would struggle to maintain order. Alternatively, it could encourage a military coup, with a charismatic and politically acceptable Defense Minister Shoigu at its head. Given “everything is forever until it is no more”, the entourage and inner-circle around Putin may well calculate that the president himself is the problem and his removal the solution.

• Fear of failure in Ukraine and fear of revolt and removal in Russia likely increases Putin’s isolation and paranoia. He may then adopt a differentiated understanding of risk. At home he is risk averse. Martial law or declaring a state of emergency is avoided. Putin likely compensates by accepting greater risk abroad. This suggests a Black Sea Fleet “special military operation” against Poti could come into focus, or Russia looks to conducts a dirty bomb “false flag” operation in Ukraine. In Putin’s mind, both options would create disruptive situations to generate options and new opportunities for leverage and exploitation.

Defense One Radio: Vlad the Invader

Russian Military Reform - Mon, 28/02/2022 - 15:33

I was on the Defense One Radio Podcast on Friday, together with some other guests, talking about the larger context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. You can listen or read the transcript here. Here’s a sample:

Watson: I’m wondering, what is your read on this next generation of power brokers in Russia, and their interest in Putin’s kind of, you know, revanchist tendencies here?

Gorenburg: It’s, you know, it’s really hard to tell what, how things, you know, what any of these next generation people really think. And, you know, one movie that I think is well worth watching, not just for the history, but also for just when you start thinking about how a bunch of psychopaths interact with the Supreme Leader’s, is the “Death of Stalin.” And you see that kind of cow-towing, right? But also, what the actual history of that time tells us is that the survivors, the people who stuck around in positions of power became very good at hiding their true beliefs while Stalin was around. And so, we don’t really know what a lot of these people think, because the ones that had clear positions that were contrary to what Putin wants have been sidelined.

Watson: What are the long-game considerations that maybe the U.S. officials in the policy community may not have been thinking about as much as perhaps they ought to? 

Gorenburg: Well, I think we’re heading into clearly a time of NATO-Russia confrontation. A lot will depend on how this goes. If this goes well and easily for Putin, then I think the appetite may increase. If it becomes complicated and painful, then there’ll be a time of reckoning, recalculation, or even just a time of trying to assimilate what’s been gained. But if it does go well, then I worry a bit about Moldova, honestly.

Russian Media Analysis, Issue 10, February 25, 2022

Russian Military Reform - Fri, 25/02/2022 - 21:45

Here are the abstracts from the latest issue of our Russian Media Analysis newsletter. You can also download the full text PDF version.

This newsletter covers developments up to February 21, 2022. Russian media discussions of Russia’s recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics on February 21, 2022, as well as the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, will be covered in the following issue.

1. HIGHLIGHTS OF PUTIN SPEECH

The key points of Vladimir Putin’s speech on February 21 include the following: Ukraine is preparing for a conflict with Western military support. Ukraine will seek to create nuclear weapons, or potentially get Western assistance to do so. Ukraine joining NATO is just a matter of time. Ukraine in NATO is a “direct threat to Russian security.” The US and NATO have sought not only to arm and train but also to integrate Ukraine’s military. These actions present a threat to Russia. NATO military bases are already present in Ukraine. Previous rounds of NATO expansion have not led to an improvement in relations with Russia, as the West has promised. Russia has unsuccessfully sought to cooperate with the West in various formats. Instead, the West has “cheated” and NATO infrastructure is now on Russia’s doorstep. US missile defense and strike capabilities are expanding and will pose a threat to Russia from Ukrainian territory. The West has “ignored” Russian proposals to resolve the current situation and this will have consequences.

2. PERCEPTION OF US GOALS IN THE CRISIS

Several articles discuss Russian perceptions of what the United States is looking to achieve in the current confrontation between the West and Russia. They focus on US domestic problems and fears of a loss of world domination as reasons that Washington is provoking a confrontation with Russia. They also suggest that the current confrontation is just the culmination of a long-term US plan to weaken Russia. They also argue that the US feels that Russia has little to offer in the way of potential concessions to end the crisis.

3. RUSSIAN GOALS IN THE CONFRONTATION

Several articles discuss Russian goals in the confrontation with the West and what Russia has achieved. Unlike Western analysts, who tend to focus on efforts to stop NATO enlargement or reorient Ukraine, Russian analysts address possibilities such as averting a new European missile crisis or forcing Ukraine to carry out the Minsk agreements. Russian achievements during the confrontation including bringing the US and its European allies to the negotiating table on major security issues, while negative consequences include reinforcing Western unity and creating a more negative perception of Russia in the West.

4. THE CONSEQUENCES OF WAR AND POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS

Two authors discuss the potentially dangerous consequences for Russia of a war in Ukraine, while several offer possible solutions to the crisis. Writing from opposing perspectives, a conservative commentator and a liberal former FSB general agree that Russia is not prepared for war in Ukraine and for confrontation with the West. Possible solutions to the crisis focus primarily on the possibility of a neutral Ukraine, though some propose a broader array of confidence-building measures to reduce the extent of confrontation in Europe as a whole.

5. IMPLICATIONS OF US AND EUROPEAN SANCTIONS

Numerous articles in the Russian press discuss and even dismiss the potential implications of US efforts to impose sanctions on Russia. In Gazeta.ru, Anatoliy Akulov analyzes the challenges of US consensus-building among European actors to sanction Nordstream 2. In Topwar.ru, Aleksandr Staver critiques US targeted sanctions against Russia, arguing that they in essence view the children of Russian investors in the UK as hostages. In Izvestiya, Mariya Vasil’eva focuses on the sanctions’ potential impact on the Russian embassies abroad, arms exports, and electronics, among others. In Voenno-Promyshlennyi Kur’er (VPK), Vladimir Eranosyan writes about the challenges that the US faces in making good on its threat to disconnect Russia from SWIFT as well as about the INSTEX system created in the wake of Iran’s disconnect from SWIFT. Finally, in another article in VPK, Vitaliy Orlov writes about how Russia could transition away from the use of the US dollar for exports of Russian armaments abroad.

6. WESTERN FORCE DEPLOYMENTS GARNER RUSSIAN ATTENTION

As the crisis between Ukraine and Russia heats up, Russian authors have been quick to point out new military deployments by Western powers in the region. American deployments to Poland and Slovakia have been of interest, as well as UK support elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Overall, the articles view these deployments as ominous, but also par for the course given the bellicose trajectory of interstate relations in recent months.

7. UKRAINE ARMS FOR WAR

Many articles in the Russian press are reviewing current political and military tensions surrounding Ukraine. Taking a variety of tacks, articles largely focus on the state of the Ukrainian military and its support by Western powers. They encompass details about military equipment and technology transfers, discuss the broader abilities of the Ukrainian armed forces, and launch critical broadsides against Ukraine’s perceived bellicose position relative to Russia and the separatist republics.

8. BELARUS AIDS IN RUSSIA’S MILITARY BUILDUP

Cooperation between Russia and Belarus are a point of interest for several observers, especially as tensions continue to ratchet up with neighboring Ukraine. Belarus and Russia are jointly undertaking combined-arms military exercises in the form of “Union Resolve – 2022,” which some view as a further step away from any putative neutrality by Belarus. Others noted that Belarus has taken a hard line vis-à-vis Ukraine in terms of public declarations of support for Russia’s side, which is a shift from previous years. Finally, a military doctrine for the Russo-Belarusian Union State has been recently approved, which has further underlined the considerable alignment between the two countries.

9. TURKEY AS A MEDIATOR FOR THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE CONFLICT

An Izvestiya article interviews Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, who discusses Ankara’s offer to mediate the Russia-Ukraine crisis. While Turkey claims that it is “the only country” that can meet both Russia and Ukraine halfway to find resolution, the ambassador has doubts of Turkey’s impartiality, noting its “well-known military-technical ties with Ukraine.” Moreover, the ambassador suggests that Ankara may not adequately understand the extent of Russia’s grievances. He states, “If our Turkish partners can influence the Ukrainians and encourage them to fulfill the previously-made [Minsk] agreements and obligations, this can be welcomed.”

10. SIVKOV CAUTIONS US ABOUT NUCLEAR WAR

In VPK, Russian commentator Konstantin Sivkov extrapolates from what he alleges to have been a statement made by Gen. David Goldfein about “three steps to destroy Russia.” He concludes that a nuclear conflict between the US and Russia would be fatal for both Russia and the United States—and lead to the dominance of other states in the international system. This, he notes, should force “global and US elites to think—should they free up a “place in the sun” for others?”

11. PERSPECTIVES ON INFORMATION WARFARE

In a February 11 article in Nezavisimoe Voennoe Obozrenie (NVO), Yuriy Yur’ev writes about the concept of information warfare as a “component part of hybrid warfare” and traces the evolution of US information warfare concepts, arguing that Russia has lost the initiative to its opponents in this area. In Krasnaya Zvezda, Oleg Martynov discusses the creation in Poland of a cyber defense force. This article traces the evolution of US and NATO concepts in the cyber domain and posits that NATO has long “viewed the cyber sphere as a domain for military action.”

12. NEXUS OF CRIMINALS AND TERRORISTS IN HYBRID WARS AND COLOR REVOLUTIONS

In VPK, Konstantin Strigunov focuses on the nexus of criminal and terrorist groups as a potential globalization trend that weakens state governments. He argues that criminal, terrorist, and other groups are also utilized in “non-classical wars” such as hybrid wars and color revolutions.

13. US EXERCISES AND WEAPONS SYSTEMS

VPK and Kommersant discuss US and allied exercises and weapons systems. In Kommersant, Marianna Belen’kaya discusses Western reactions to the Russo-Belarusian Allied Resolve 2022 exercises and Russian commentators’ perspectives on military activities in the region. In VPK, authors discuss US presence in the Mediterranean for the Neptune Strike-2022 exercises, the testing of the joint air-to-ground missile, and US ballistic and cruise missile programs.

14. CHINESE-RUSSIAN STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP

Several articles reported on the meetings between presidents Putin and Xi on the sidelines of the Beijing Winter Olympics: the leaders declared that there were no limits to their strategic partnership; they vowed to counter instances of foreign interference in internal affairs; and Beijing announced that it joins Putin in opposing further NATO expansion. While some articles gloat at these new developments, others are more cautious—noting drawbacks and inequities in the alliance in the context of the Ukraine conflict. Another article argues that the US is trying to use Ukraine to drive a wedge between China and Russia.

15. KURIL ISLANDS DEVELOPMENTS; RUSSIAN-JAPANESE RELATIONS

Several articles report on an alleged US Virginia-class submarine incident that occurred near the Kuril Islands on February 12, which the Russian Ministry of Defense characterized as “a gross violation of international law.” According to reports, the submarine entered Russian territorial waters during a planned Russian military exercise, ignored warning messages instructing the vessel to surface, and was chased away by a Russian frigate. Other articles discuss the Japanese-Russian territorial dispute surrounding the South Kuril Islands, and how potential anti-Russian sanctions from Tokyo might affect the bilateral relationship.

16. IRAN NUCLEAR NEGOTIATIONS

Two articles discuss the US decision to reintroduce sanction waivers to Iran in hopes of reviving the nuclear negotiations. In an interview, the Russian Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna notes that this step “should have been taken long ago” but welcomes the decision. A different article questions whether this is enough to save the Iran deal, noting Tehran’s lack of enthusiasm in response to the waivers, and the lack of trust that a diplomatic resolution would be upheld by future US administrations.

Putin has changed the world yet again and will continue changing it

Pravda.ru / Russia - Tue, 22/02/2022 - 18:24
Russia has recognised the People's Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk within the boundaries stipulated in their constitutions. The Armed Forces of Ukraine will not show any resistance to Russia — they do not have the guts for it, an the liberation of hte Donbass will create a domino effect. Putin is ready to liberate Ukraine The decrees on the international recognition of the People's Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, which Vladimir Putin signed, did not specify the boundaries, within which this was done, as this issue lies within the competence of the republics. It would be logical to assume that the borders are determined by the result of the referendum held on April 7, 2014 and include the entire territory of the former Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. This is what the Constitutions of the DPR and LPR say as well.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russian Media Analysis, Issue 9, February 11, 2022

Russian Military Reform - Fri, 11/02/2022 - 17:43

Here are the abstracts from the latest issue of our Russian Media Analysis newsletter. You can also download the full text PDF version.

1. The Ukraine Crisis: Views of US-Russia Negotiations

Negotiations between the United States and Russia over the Ukraine-Russia crisis are widely discussed across Russian media, from a variety of angles. Most commentators are in agreement that the United States and its allies are engaging in bad-faith negotiations, given their continued military-technical support for Ukraine, although some note concern with Russian posture. The negotiations themselves are seen as a first step, and meetings with Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Lavrov, as well as the formal diplomatic response from the United States to Russia over their treaty proposals, are treated in a variety of ways.

2. The Ukraine Crisis: Perceptions of US Strategy

In discussing the current confrontation between the United States and Russia, a number of publications consider causal factors affecting US strategy. The focus is on the impact of the withdrawal from Afghanistan and its effect on US assessments of geopolitical risks and US aggressiveness. The articles also discuss the US predilection for narcissism and double standards. Some analysts do note the clear rejection of a military response by US leadership as leaving open the possibility of a compromise solution.

3. The Ukraine Crisis: Discussion of Russia’s Strategy

Russian media published a number of articles discussing Russian goals and strategy in the Ukraine crisis. Several articles focus on Russia’s need for security guarantees as a key driver of the current crisis. Other articles suggest that Russia’s real concern is not NATO enlargement per se but specifically the placement of NATO military hardware near Russia’s borders. Others suggest that in provoking a crisis now, Russia is reacting to a perception of weakness on the part of the United States in order to push the US into making concessions on Russian security demands.

4. The Ukraine Crisis: Signals of Potential Elite Unease

Two articles highlight the possibility of concerns within the Russian military about how an invasion of Ukraine would play out. The two authors, both well connected with segments of the Russian military and defense industry, suggest that a Russian military intervention in Ukraine could go badly and does not correspond to Russian national interests.

5. The Ukraine Crisis: Reaction to Potential US Sanctions

In Voenno-Promyshlennyi Kur’er (VPK), Vladimir Vasil’yev of the Institute of USA and Canada Studies (ISKRAN) argues that the Russia sanctions bill proposed by Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Bob Menendez is “Cold War 2.0 legislation.” Vasil’yev notes that one way to interpret the bill is that it intends sanctions to “speed up and ease the Ukraine’s accession” to NATO. In a Topwar.ru article focused on how sanctions on exports of high technologies to Russia can be incredibly damaging to the Russian economy, Andrey Mitrofanov posits that US sanctions seek to turn Russia into North Korea 2.0.

6. The Ukraine Crisis: Reactions to Western Military Activities and “Information Warfare”

Numerous articles in the Russian press focus on the US deployments to Europe and the shifts in force postures and military activities in the region. Kommersant describes the state of “information warfare” and “hysteria” around Ukraine. Nezavisimaya Gazeta describes the military exercises and troop movements in the region, noting that NATO “assumes Russian aggression against Ukraine, [while] the Russian-Belarusian side [is concerned about] the possibility of NATO provocations that could push Kiev to resolve the problem of Donbass and Luhansk by force. Anton Lavrov, Roman Kretsul, and Andrey Fedorov discuss changes in the US force posture in Europe and quote a former Ministry of Foreign Affairs official as saying that some can be regarded as a “menacing maneuver.”

7. The Ukraine Crisis: Military Aid to Ukraine

More than 10 articles report on training and military aid to Ukraine, including new shipments from the US and UK, as well as transfers of US weapons from the Baltics, UAVs from Turkey, and artillery shells from the Czech Republic. While one article suggests that the acquisition of these new capabilities proves Ukraine’s intent to invade the Donbas, most are skeptical that these weapons provide Ukraine with any new meaningful capability.

8. The Ukraine Crisis: Ukrainian Military Developments

Several articles report on Ukrainian military developments “which confirm the fact that it is preparing for aggression against the [Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics].” Two articles report on movements of the 58th Separate Motorized Infantry and 53rd and 54th Separate Motorized Brigades, transport of portable demining units, military exercises near Crimea, and Zelensky’s decree to increase the size of armed forces by 100,000. A Topwar.ru article argues that Ukraine has been preparing to take back the Donbas by force since 2014. A fourth article reports on the low morale of Ukrainian troops.

9. Reactions to NATO Development Plans

Several articles address how NATO is planning to develop in the near to medium term and the threat that the organization’s plans pose to Russia. The topics include the expansion of NATO’s zone of operations to new territories, such as the Middle East, and new domains, such as space. NATO enlargement and its aggressive militarism, in the context of an overwhelming conventional force superiority over Russia, are highlighted as the main threats to Russia. The possibility of an unwanted NATO-Russia war being caused by Ukraine is also mentioned.

10. Scandinavia and NATO Enlargement

Yevgeny Fedorov, writing in Topwar.ru, discusses the possibility of Sweden and Finland joining NATO. He argues that even though the two countries recently reiterated that they are not currently interested in joining the alliance, they retain the right to join at any point in the future while remaining so closely integrated with the alliance that membership would be merely a formal change in status.

11. Concerns About Turkish Expansionism

An article in VPK discusses how Turkey is increasingly being used by the US and UK as a proxy to contain Russia on its southern flank and to pursue expansionist ambitions in Central Asia. The article argues that despite some tensions with its NATO allies, Turkey remains firmly committed to the alliance’s strategy to weaken Russia by forcing it to defend all of its borders and to impact its economy by creating alternative energy sources for Europe.

12. Potential Russian Military Development in the Caribbean

Two articles discuss potential Russian military developments in Caribbean states-namely, Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. A Topwar.ru article argues that because NATO is “increasingly, unceremoniously settling in close to Russia’s borders from the Barents to the Black Sea,” including US missile deployment, Russia is forced to respond in kind. A Novye Izvestiya article argues that while US influence on Venezuela and Cuba may prevent them from being viable hosts of Russian military bases, Nicaragua may be a more suitable option. Both articles acknowledge the challenges associated with challenging US hegemony in the region.

13. US Support for Japan’s Military Goals

Russian commentators continue to be concerned about a further deepening of the US-Japanese security relationship, arguing that Japan’s military-strategic plans to reemerge as an important player in East Asia have led it to follow the US lead on geopolitical issues elsewhere. Writing in Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Valery Kistanov explores the question of why Japan wishes to become a military power, and what it is willing to sacrifice in order to achieve this. Although suspicious of Japan’s claims to be concerned about national security, he nevertheless writes that it is necessary to take this as-is and focus on the fact that a considerable military buildup is in its early stages.

14. Chinese-Russian Relations as a ‘Biathlon’

The Olympic Games in Beijing may bring about renewed and strengthened diplomatic ties, according to Yuri Tavrovsky, the head of the Expert Council of the Russian-Chinese Committee for Friendship, Peace, and Development. Writing in Moskovskii Komsomolets, Tavrovsky argues that upcoming meetings between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping in the context of the games are a perfect venue for continuing down a line of close cooperation between the two at a personal level.

15. The CSTO in Central Asia Versus NATO

The deployment of CSTO forces into Kazakhstan during political troubles earlier in January has led to some Russian analysts to reappraise the organization. One article in Gazeta.ru by Viktor Sokirko and Dmitry Mayorov attempted to assess the CSTO’s military capabilities at the alliance level. They argue that in fact the CSTO, while inferior to NATO in general, is more than capable of maintaining order in Central Asia and ensuring a form of moderate collective defense. This is more than sufficient, given that the CSTO has very different goals from NATO in the first place, according to the authors.

16. Russian-Iranian Cooperation and Reactions to JCPOA Negotiations

Topwar.ru provides an update on the JCPOA negotiations and expressed criticism of the US position in the talks, highlighting Russian opposition to artificial deadlines. An article in Ekspert about the recent visit by Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi to Moscow highlights areas of Russo-Iranian cooperation, and says that the visit was aimed at securing Russian support in the face of US pressure for additional concessions from Iran as part of JCPOA negotiations.

Russian Media Analysis, Issue 8, January 28, 2022

Russian Military Reform - Mon, 31/01/2022 - 17:28

Here are the abstracts from the latest issue of our Russian Media Analysis newsletter. You can also download the full text PDF version.

1. Russian perceptions of the NATO threat

Several articles describe Russian perceptions of NATO and the threat that it poses to Russian security. They focus on the role of the alliance as a weapon of US domination in Europe, the threat posed to Russia by NATO’s previous expansion to the east, and the possibility that it could expand further to include Sweden, Finland, or Georgia. These Western actions can be countered either by NATO and the United States providing binding security guarantees to Russia or by Russia extending its security border to the Soviet Union’s previous western border in Belarus and Ukraine.

2. Karaganov argues that NATO is a metastasizing “cancer” that needs to be “limited territorially”

On January 19, the Russian newspaper Argumenty i Fakty interviewed Sergey Karaganov, dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, on the state of Russia’s relations with the US and NATO. In the interview, Karaganov also discusses Russia’s intentions in Ukraine, contrasts Russia with the Soviet Union, and discusses potential steps that Russia could take in response to the ongoing crisis.

3. US-Russia diplomatic engagements

During this reporting period, recent diplomatic efforts are frequently mentioned. These include US-Russia talks in Geneva, NATO-Russia talks in Brussels, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) talks in Vienna, and a phone conversation between Foreign Minister Lavrov and Secretary Blinken. Several articles discuss Russia’s motivation behind the talks, which followed unrealistic demands for security guarantees and largely ended in stalemate. They also discuss what lies ahead.

4. Plans for US sanctions against Russia

Several articles highlight potential US plans to further strengthen sanctions against Russia. Draft US plans to impose personal sanctions against top Russian officials are dismissed as unlikely. However, the possibility of serious measures to limit interactions with Russian financial institutions and to prohibit the transfer of a wide range of technology to Russia (and the use of that technology by Russia) is taken more seriously. Russia could respond with highly disruptive countermeasures and may see the most severe measures as, in effect, a declaration of war.

5. The West prepares for conflict

Russian media published extensive discussions of statements being made by Western officials in response to Russia’s deployment of forces near Ukraine. These articles focus on the deployment of additional NATO forces to Eastern Europe, reports about the evacuation of Western and Russian embassy personnel from Kyiv, and US efforts to find alternative sources of natural gas for EU member states that would be engaged in a conflict with Russia.

6. NATO, Russia-Belarus military exercises

One article discusses NATO’s upcoming Cold Response exercise, which will take place in late March and early April and will include 35,000 military personnel from 28 states. The article notes that “such large-scale exercises as Cold Response-2022 have not been held in Norway since the 1980s.” Earlier in the year, on February 10–20, Russia and Belarus will hold joint military exercises, titled “Allied Resolve.” Two articles discuss the size, scope, and motivation of the maneuvers. A fourth article reports that the head of Poland’s National Security Bureau requested that NATO hold military exercises in the region in response to the joint Russian-Belarusian exercises.

7. Nuclear risk reduction and potential Western reactions to Belarusian nukes

Several articles cover nuclear issues. Krasnaya Zvezda focuses on Russia’s views on the importance of the P5 Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapon States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races, and the importance to Russia of the “inadmissibility of any war between nuclear states, whether nuclear or with the use of conventional weapons.” Aleksey Poplavskiy in Gazeta.ru offers Russian expert commentary on potential Western reactions to the unlikely placement of Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus. (The December 6–16, 2021, issue of Russian Media Analysisaddressed this latter issue.)

8. Options for new Russian missile bases as competition grows

As geopolitical competition increases, Russian authors are suggesting possibilities for new staging points that can counter perceived NATO encroachment. Two articles in Topwar.ru point out the potential for sites in Cuba and Serbia, respectively, as states that may be particularly open to hosting new forward-deployed arms. While Cuba is seen with a glow of Soviet-era nostalgia, the Balkan case represents a more novel vision in any future arms race.

9. Western information warfare against Russia

In Voenno-Promyshlennyi Kur’er (VPK), Sergey Korotkov argues that the US (and the West) are leaders in disinformation and have used this in the past to create a justification for wars in Iraq and Yugoslavia. The article posits that “the US views the internet as the main instrument of conducting hybrid warfare to achieve global domination in the global information space” and “aggressive propaganda in the form of disinformation campaigns is conducted at the state level and is a component of the ‘systematic deterrence of Russia.’” Separately, an article in Topwar.ru offers perspectives on a January 6 Atlantic Council event that featured retired general Wesley Clark, who argued that Putin is a war criminal and that Russia could use chemical weapons in Ukraine.

10. Military aid to Ukraine

Many articles have focused on the crisis between Russia and Ukraine, looking specifically at new plans for military aid being developed by NATO countries to assist Ukraine in light of a potential Russian military action. Several articles focus on aid from the UK, which is stated to be moving faster and with greater qualitative effectiveness than other aid plans at present. Other authors review US military aid being debated in Congress as well. In general, the articles frame UK and US military aid as a means of ratcheting up the local threat against Russia, further destabilizing the regional security environment, and further cementing Ukraine’s de facto position as a quasi-member of NATO and the broader Western security architecture.

11. Tumult and fragmentation in Ukrainian domestic politics

The domestic travails of Ukraine were recently noted by two Russian authors, each arguing that the internal politics of the country were riven by scandal, faction, and dissent. Both articles are provocative: one, in Topwar.ru, asks why Ukrainian statehood had ever even been considered; the other, in VPK, drives home the point that Western efforts to aid Ukraine are not always clearly appreciated by Kyiv.

12. How future wars will be fought

Two articles by noted military specialists address the question of how wars will be fought in the future. Aleksandr Khramchikhin suggests that UAVs are likely to become the most important weapon in future wars, because they would be virtually impossible to eliminate and could be used to eliminate enemy air defense infrastructure. Viktor Murakhovsky is, on the whole, more skeptical about the dominance of technology in future warfare. The ineffectiveness of high-tech warfare in Afghanistan and Yemen suggests that future warfare may not be as technology dependent as visionaries on both sides believe.

13. Concerns about Turkish geopolitical designs

Multiple articles in Topwar.ru look at the geopolitical place of Turkey as well as ethnic ties across the Turkic peoples of Eurasia. Focusing on the potential for military cooperation along a pan-Turkic basis, as well as the prospects for major military expansion by Turkey in the Black Sea and Mediterranean, the articles add to a growing sense of paranoia about the prospect of alternative regional power blocs based on ethnic relations.

14. US accused of stirring up extremist groups in the North Caucasus

According to an article by Evgeny Fedorov in Topwar.ru, the United States is seeking to undermine internal Russian stability by way of encouraging extremist movements in the North Caucasus. Fedorov argues that American support in organizing and propagating Islamic extremist movements over the internet has grown in recent years, with the goal of provoking protest and confrontation between the authorities and local radicals. Fedorov highlights a new memorial set up by a local extremist organization, 1ADAT, as a new means of American meddling in internal affairs.

15. Alarm about new Kazakhstan biosafety-level-4 lab

Several articles in the Russian media and on online sites discuss the planned construction of a BSL-4 laboratory in Kazakhstan. Articles in Topwar.ru and Izvestiya argue that reference labs and biosafety facilities in Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan are an enormous cause for concern for Russia because they are nontransparent and potentially unaccountable facilities conducting dangerous work close to the Russian border. While both of these articles include disinformation, they also exemplify the perspectives of Russian military analysts about CTR-supported installations in Eurasia.

Russia to arm herself to the teeth with most advanced arms systems in 2022

Pravda.ru / Russia - Mon, 31/01/2022 - 13:35
In 2022, Russia's ground, airborne forces and coastal troops will receive over 1,000 pieces of equipment. According to Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu, the military would receive launchers with intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), strategic missile carriers, new air defense systems and a nuclear submarine cruiser. The Aerospace Forces will receive as many as 257 new military aircraft. Some models of military equipment and weapons will be delivered to the troops for the first time in 2022, while some others will come closer to the stage when they can be put into service.
Categories: Russia & CIS

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