Russia Analytical Report, Sept. 23-30, 2019

This Week’s Highlights:

  • In the wake of impeachment proceedings and in the absence of John Bolton, the odds aren’t quite as long against extending New START, writes Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Stimson Center.
  • The sequence of certain Russian military exercises conducted simultaneously indicates that Russia takes into account the possibility that it could have to handle two fronts at the same time, writes Isabelle Facon, a senior research fellow at Fondation pour la Recherche stratégique.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, knowing the U.S. is out of the talks on resolving the conflict in Donbass for the duration of impeachment proceedings and perhaps until after the 2020 election, may want to drag out the next “Normandy format” talks, writes columnist Leonid Bershidsky. Zelenskiy mistakenly believes Moscow is merely looking for an above the board way to exit from Donbass, while the Kremlin sees Zelenskiy as an inexperienced negotiating partner who doesn’t understand the effects of a full realization of the Minsk agreement, according to Russian political analyst Vladimir Frolov.
  • There has been very little change in the lineup of Ukrainian oligarchs between 2012 and 2016, and since 2014, most oligarchs have adopted pro-EU messages and promote pro-Ukrainian parties and even militias, writes Mitchell Orenstein, a senior fellow at FPRI. However, this does not mean that they will do the same tomorrow, Orenstein argues. The Financial Times editorial board writes that Zelenskiy must decide if he wants to be a servant of the oligarchs or the servant of the people.
  • A recent memo to top EU diplomats penned by Markus Ederer, the bloc’s ambassador to Moscow, said EU leaders must make a “pragmatic” move towards “enhanced co-ordination” with Russia, to combat “Eurasian competition” as China’s influence grows. Meanwhile, experts at the European Council on Foreign Relations write that French President Emmanuel Macron’s idea of building a shared concept of European security with Russia is an attractive project; however, it will have to cut through the thicket of Western-Russian disputes to get to the larger geopolitical issues that often lurk behind Russia’s intransigent positions.
  • Analysis and observations by malware analyst Omri Ben Bassat and security researcher Itay Cohen demonstrate that when it comes to cross-actor connections, different Russian cyber hacking actors largely do not share code. By not having different organizations re-use the same tools on a wide range of targets, Bassat and Cohen write, these actors overcome the risk that one compromised operation will expose other active operations, preventing a sensitive house of cards from collapsing.
  • The main debate in Russia’s economic bloc right now is how best to spend the super profits from oil exports that are building up in the National Wealth Fund (NWF), writes journalist Alexandra Prokopenko. Spending the $31 billion surplus is the last chance for the state capitalists to get large sums of money for practically nothing, but it will be the government that will have to bear the political risks of dispensing the NWF to the chosen few in full view of a society that is irate and becoming poorer for the fifth year in a row, Prokopenko writes.

I. U.S. and Russian priorities for the bilateral agenda

Nuclear security:

  • No significant commentary.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • No significant commentary.

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • No significant commentary.

New Cold War/saber rattling:

  • No significant commentary.

NATO-Russia relations:

“Russia, NATO and Black Sea Security Strategy,” Stephen J. Flanagan and Irina A. Chindea, RAND Corporation, 2019The authors, a senior political scientist and an associate political scientist at RAND, write:

  • “The Black Sea region figures prominently in Russia's overarching goal to restore influence and control along its periphery … Moscow's overall objectives are tailored to conditions in each country in the region, with goals of keeping various neighbors in states of nonalignment or insecurity relative to Russia and the West and open to Russian economic, political and malign influences.”
  • “More visible EU and Western engagement on nonmilitary issues, including reenergized peace negotiations and support of economic projects, regional infrastructure and integration initiatives would help to counter Russian influence.”
  • “A credible military deterrent posture need not match Russia militarily. Deployment of advanced air and coastal defense systems in Romania and Bulgaria to counter Russian offensive missile threats, expanded NATO exercises and continued Western assistance to Ukraine and Georgia.”

“False History: General Mattis on Our ‘Founding Fathers,’” Jack Matlock,, 09.22.19The author, a former U.S. ambassador, writes:

  • “[O]n page 177 [of the memoir ‘Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead,’ co-authored by Gen. Jim Mattis, former Defense Secretary, and Bing West] … the following sentence seemed to jump to my attention: ‘If we didn’t have NATO today, we would have to create it in order to hold on to our Founding Fathers’ vision of freedom and rights for all. We must remember that we are engaged in an experiment called democracy, and experiments can fail in a world still largely hostile to freedom. The idea of American democracy, as inspiring as it is, cannot stand without the support of like-minded nations.’”
  • “[George] Washington’s advice was the opposite of what Mattis and West state. One can argue, for example, that the creation of NATO to prevent the expansion of a hostile Soviet-controlled bloc was essential to contain the spread of Communist rule. Washington did not argue against that since he conceded that ‘temporary alliances during times of extreme danger’ may be necessary. But when the Soviet Union voluntarily relinquished its hold on Eastern Europe and then shattered, peacefully and with the support of Russia, into fifteen independent states, there was no need to continue the alliance in its former form and certainly none to expand it and incite a struggle for control of territory. It was as if we had learned absolutely nothing from the two disastrous world wars that disfigured the twentieth century.”

Missile defense:

  • No significant commentary.

Nuclear arms control:

“Impeachment and Arms Control,” Michael Krepon, Arms Control Wonk, 09.30.19The author, co-founder of the Stimson Center, writes:

  • “This is already the third case of impeachment proceedings in the Nuclear Age. The previous two don’t provide a clear roadmap. In the first [Richard Nixon], arms control was modestly advanced. In the second [Bill Clinton], it was retarded. With Trump, a third path seems most likely—that impeachment proceedings will have little bearing on prospects for new agreements.”
  • “These developments are unlikely to change Trump’s nature. Neither he nor those around him have demonstrated a capacity for positive outcomes in national security negotiations.”
  • “In the wake of impeachment proceedings and in the absence of John Bolton, the odds aren’t quite as long against extending New START. Nevertheless, New START is an Obama accomplishment, and thus a red flag to Trump. The bigger picture remains forbidding, whether New START is extended or not. The daunting project before us to reduce nuclear dangers and weapons requires bipartisanship, and another impeachment is likely to harden partisan divides even more.”


  • No significant commentary.

Conflict in Syria:

  • No significant commentary.

Cyber security:

“Mapping the Connections Inside Russia's APT Ecosystem, Omri Ben Bassat and Itay Cohen, Intezer, 09.24.19The authors, a malware analyst and reverse engineer and a security researcher and reverse engineer, write:

  • “Our analysis and observations demonstrate that when it comes to cross-actor connections, in the vast majority of times, different [Russian cyber hacking] actors do not share code. None of the connections we analyzed indicated that some pieces of code are shared between two or more organizations.”
  • “A reasonable option can be that Russia, having one of the most advanced and strong cyber-espionage capabilities, is aware of the disadvantages of code-sharing. By avoiding different organizations re-using the same tools on a wide range of targets, they overcome the risk that one compromised operation will expose other active operations, preventing a sensitive house of cards from collapsing.”
  • “Another hypothesis is that the different organizations do not share code due to internal politics. Since we are not familiar enough with the politics and the relationships between Russia’s intelligence organizations, this hypothesis should be taken with caution. … Out of these special services, the GRU likely possesses the finest technological and operational capabilities. Sharing the responsibility for cyber-espionage operations between several groups (which is not rare) might cause problems such as miscommunication, redundant work, duplicate targets and ego.”

Elections interference:

  • No significant commentary.

Energy exports from CIS:

  • No significant commentary.

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant commentary.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

“Time for America’s Opposition to Learn From Russia’s,” Sam Greene, The Moscow Times, 09.27.19The author, director of the Russia Institute at King’s Collee London, writes:

  • “It is ironic, of course, that impeachment—if comes to that—will have been sparked by Trump-Ukraine, rather than Trump-Russia. But it is also indicative of a broader truth: The trouble with the Trump presidency is not that it is a foreign invasion, but that it is a domestic subversion.”
  • “Like Putin, Trump sees no distinction between the national interest and his own. For Putin, this is because he’s drunk the Kool-Aid of his messianic destiny, genuinely believing that he has raised Russia from its knees, restoring its place in the pantheon of civilizations. Trump talks a good game, too, but it’s more likely that he has simply never heard of the national interest, or, if he has, considers it little more than a fairy tale.”
  • “Fixing this requires putting the fear of the public back into the minds of politicians, and that is about more than impeachment and elections. For citizens to take every election seriously, politicians of all stripes need to rediscover a positive mission for the government.”

II. Russia’s relations with other countries

Russia’s general foreign policy and relations with “far abroad” countries:

“Emmanuel Macron’s Very Big Idea on Russia,” Gustav Gressel, Kadri Liik, Jeremy Shapiro, and Tara Varma, European Council on Foreign Relations, 09.25.19The authors, experts with ECFR, write:

  • “[French President] Emmanuel Macron is a man with a lot of big ideas about how Europeans should step up their game on foreign policy. Perhaps his biggest so far is for Europe to engage in negotiations with Russia on a new European security order, reflecting his belief, expressed last month, that ‘the European continent will never be stable, will never be secure, if we do not ease and clarify our relations with Russia.’”
  • “Macron’s effort reflects a belief that the Americans will no longer defend Europe or engage meaningfully on European security, and that the Germans are unwilling to step up to help fill the void. Worse, he is also afraid that Donald Trump might sell Europe out to the Russians, or that Russia will fall into China’s hands—either of which would leave France and Europe out in the cold.”
  • “The idea of building a shared concept of European security with Russia is an attractive project, and talking with the Russian government about the subject is clearly an important step in any such effort. But for that effort to be more than just distracting talk, it will have to cut through the thicket of Western-Russian disputes to get to the larger geopolitical issues that often lurk behind Russia’s intransigent positions. This, in turn, will require attention to some of the difficult details Macron has so far avoided, as well as greater buy-in from key allies and from regional partners.”

“EU Fumbles Over How to Tackle Russia’s Vladimir Putin,” Michael Peel, Financial Times, 09.24.19The author, a journalist with the news outlet, writes:

  • “A memo to top EU diplomats this month penned by Markus Ederer, the bloc’s ambassador to Moscow, has outlined a developing view among some in Brussels and EU capitals that relations with President Vladimir Putin need to be pulled out of the deep freeze they were plunged into after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.”
  • “EU leaders must make a ‘pragmatic’ move towards ‘enhanced coordination’ with Russia, to combat ‘Eurasian competition’ as China’s influence grows … wrote the German diplomat, who was previously the EU’s representative in Beijing. ‘[The EU] would have everything to lose by ignoring the tectonic strategic shifts in Eurasia,’ Mr. Ederer warned, suggesting increased cooperation in areas including 5G communications, personal data protection and the Arctic.”
  • “The Ederer document has raised eyebrows among central and eastern European diplomats who see the Kremlin and Mr. Putin as untrustworthy. … Few observers expect the Europeans to lift its sanctions on Moscow when they next come up for their six-monthly renewal early next year. But as the argument over Russia policy shows, the debate over how the bloc deals with the world in an era of great power competition has become more pressing and trickier.”


“Bringing China Into the Fold on Arms Control and Strategic Stability Issues,” Frank A. Rose, Brookings Institution, 09.25.19The author, a senior fellow at Brookings, writes:

  • “While it is imperative that the United States continue to deter China’s nuclear forces, the primary U.S. military objective with regard to China should be countering its efforts to gain conventional superiority in the Western Pacific.”
  • “Given China’s continuing development of strategic capabilities, especially anti-satellite and offensive cyber capabilities, the Trump administration’s recent proposal to include China in a future arms control and strategic stability framework is strategically sound.”
  • “We need to begin laying the groundwork to bring China into a future regime over the longer term, especially regarding emerging technologies. … Engaging China on arms control and strategic stability issues will require a mix of deterrence and dialogue.”

“China and Nuclear Weapons,” Caitlin Talmadge, Brookings Institution, September 2019The author, a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings, writes:

  • “China’s efforts to strengthen its relatively small nuclear arsenal seem largely oriented toward improving survivability and do not appear to constitute a shift away from the country’s long-standing No First Use (NFU) policy. Nevertheless, the improvements are provoking anxiety in Washington, which has long resisted acknowledging a state of mutual nuclear vulnerability with China.”
  • “China is also very unlikely to stop seeking a more survivable nuclear arsenal, even if its strategic aims are limited and its nuclear doctrine remains static. As a result, nuclear competition between the United States and China is almost certain to intensify.”

“On the (Belt &) Road to Failure? The Challenges of China’s Soft Power Policy in Central Asia (and Beyond),” Sebastien Peyrouse, PONARS Eurasia, September 2019The author, a research professor at The George Washington University, writes:

  • “Notwithstanding twenty years of increasingly prominent political, economic and security relations, China remains poorly understood and even feared among Central Asians. Despite its emergence as the second-largest economic world power in less than three decades, its development model is unpopular compared to others, in particular that of Russia, which a majority of Central Asians still view as a benchmark. Strikingly, since the 2000s, articles critical of China have proliferated in Central Asian media.”
  • “Beijing’s soft power policy in Central Asia remains, for now, negatively perceived as a temporary tool, concealing a hard power policy designed to impose political and economic influence for the sole benefit of China, and potentially undermining local development and the political, economic and social autonomy of the states of the region.”


“The Failure of the ‘Normandy Four’: How Zelenskiy Met Reality,” Vladimir Frolov,, 09.23.19The author, a Russian political analyst, writes:

  • Frolov argues that Zelenskiy mistakenly believes Moscow is merely looking for an above the board way to exit from Donbass. Zelenskiy believes Moscow’s demands are merely a negotiation tactic, and if the Kremlin was given a chance to normalize its relationship with the EU and Ukraine, then it would agree to cut off support for Donetsk and Luhansk. Moscow understands that agreeing to a “fake special status” while surrendering its influence in Donbass would be tantamount to capitulation.
  • Moscow insists on the complete realization of the Minsk agreement, clearly understanding that the agreement provides for all the strategic goals of the Russian Federation in Ukraine through political means. The Kremlin sees Zelenskiy as an inexperienced negotiating partner who does not understand the effects of a full realization of the Minsk agreement. Zelenskiy’s desire to quickly end the war is being used to push him into accepting the Russian terms of the deal.
  • Zelenskiy wants to end the war, but he does not want to lose it. The Kremlin’s goals will either change, allowing for the withdrawal of forces from Donbass and an agreement along Kiev’s terms, or the conflict will remain frozen and the best outcome would be a “small deal” that creates peace but no definitive political agreement. Frolov writes that any other options are fantasy.

“The Ukraine Scandal Will Prolong a Real War,” Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg, 09.25.19The author, a columnist and veteran Russia watcher, writes:

  • “The next ‘Normandy format’ meeting of Ukrainian, Russian, French and German leaders is likely to take place in the coming weeks. Zelenskiy will have to participate knowing that the U.S., always an invisible but tangible presence at these talks, is out for the duration of the impeachment proceedings and perhaps until after the 2020 presidential election. His entire strategy of trying to broaden the process is in doubt. That makes it attractive for the Ukrainian president to drag out the talks, agreeing on baby steps like prisoner exchanges and military pullbacks, until he can have a substantive conversation with the White House again.”

“Trump’s Ukrainegate Could Help Ukraine,” Joanna Hosa, European Council on Foreign Relations, 09.30.19The author, program manager of the ECFR’s Wider Europe program, writes:

  • “There will now be more scrutiny of American support for Ukraine, which will help protect the country from threats to withhold it—explicit or otherwise. Ukraine is gaining prominence—so much so that Trump has even stopped calling it ‘the Ukraine,’ which is quite something.”

“US Democrats Are Right to Launch a Probe Into Donald Trump,” Editorial Board, Financial Times, 09.25.19The news outlet’s editorial board writes:

  • “Mr. Trump is reported to have pressed Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a phone call to investigate the local business activities of the son of former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, or risk losing $391 million in U.S. military aid … If true, this would represent a direct effort to induce a foreign government to take action against a rival presidential contender. Suspending aid to Ukraine—a U.S. ally whose territory Russia partly occupies—might also be a boon to President Vladimir Putin.”
  • “Senior Democrats are right to set aside short-term political considerations in pursuit of a higher constitutional principle: that elected officials’ ultimate duty is to uphold the law. Mr. Trump may be exonerated. Not investigating, however, would signal to future presidents that they might escape scrutiny.”

“Trump to Ukraine: Such a Shame if Anything Happened to Your Nice Country,” Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, 09.25.19The author, an opinion columnist for the news outlet, writes:

  • “Trump weaponized taxpayer dollars to coerce a foreign leader to target U.S. citizens with a criminal investigation, aiming to affect an American presidential election. Whether or not you believe that is impeachable, we should be able to agree that it is unconscionable.”

“What the Press Doesn't Know About Ukraine,” Holman W. Jenkins Jr, Wall Street Journal, 09.27.19The author, a columnist for the news outlet, writes:

  • “A consensus has formed that Joe Biden will be collateral damage in the Democrats' desired Ukraine-related impeachment spectacle, with some progressives seeing this as a feature and not a bug. Mr. Biden never struck me as presidential material but he might well be the best we can do in 2020. He doesn't think America wants a socialist revolution. He's old. He might decide he doesn't care about a second term. He'd be free to enter office with a mandate from himself to govern from the middle, to work with the GOP regardless of his party's Twitter shriekers. That possibility, which might look pretty good a year from now, is likely disappearing fast in the media's latest half-cocked frenzy.”

“To Be a Modernising Reformer, Volodymyr Zelenskiy Must Distance Himself From Oligarchs,” Editorial Board, Financial Times, 09.23.19The news outlet’s editorial board writes:

  • “Igor Kolomoisky, the billionaire oligarch suspected of helping bring Mr. Zelenskiy to office … made a high-profile appearance in the Ukrainian capital. Then the prime minister suggested to this newspaper that Kyiv was open to a settlement over PrivatBank, the lender Mr. Kolomoisky co-owned until it was nationalized in 2016 with an alleged $5.5 billion hole in its accounts. Kyiv has been trying to recover billions through criminal charges against the oligarch. He claims the affair was a stitch-up by the previous government to grab his prized asset.”
  • “Any settlement over PrivatBank should involve maximum recovery of assets from its ex-owners and be agreed with the IMF. Beyond that, the president faces a defining choice. Many Ukrainians feel his predecessor, the billionaire Petro Poroshenko, was unable to cast off his oligarch’s mantle in office and become a true reformist statesman. Mr. Zelenskiy must decide if he wants to be a ‘servant of the people’ … or a servant of the oligarchs.”

“Playing Both Sides: How Oligarchs in Eastern Europe Maintain Power and Control,” Mitchell Orenstein, Foreign Policy Research Institute, September 2019The author, a senior fellow at FPRI’s Eurasia Program and professor and chair of Russian and Eastern European studies at the University of Pennsylvania, writes:

  • “There has been very little change in the lineup of Ukrainian oligarchs between 2012 and 2016. Since the Crimea invasion, most oligarchs in Ukraine adopt pro-EU messages and promote pro-Ukrainian parties and even militias. However, this does not mean that they will do the same tomorrow. Their allegiance is, first and foremost, to their own power. Flexibility is a great asset in a highly polarized and volatile political climate.”

“Washington’s Security Assistance to Kyiv: Improving Long-Term Returns on Military Investments in Ukraine,” Mariya Omelicheva, PONARS Eurasia, September 2019The author, professor of national security strategy at the National War College of the National Defense University, writes:

  • “The largest issue with Washington’s assistance to Ukraine has been the lack of earnest engagement with the strategic questions involving Ukrainian defense reform, rather than corruption or matching contributions from European partners.”
  • “To put limited resources to effective use, the United States has to have a solid framework for assessment, monitoring, and evaluation of its security assistance program and hold their Ukrainian counterparts accountable for delivering meaningful results.”
  • “The long-term comprehensive military education and training programs, which constitute less than one percent of American security assistance to Ukraine, need to be expanded because they carry the greater promise of long-term enduring changes to the values and mentality of the officer cadres studying at U.S. PME institutions.”
  • “If the United States has the short-term, narrower goal of equipping Ukraine for success in the war in the Donbass, it needs to assist the Ukrainian military-industrial complex in modernizing its mechanized infantry combat vehicles (tanks) to adapt them for urban warfare. Supplies of counter-battery radars would be cheaper and more effective in reducing the damage from separatist artillery attacks than the largely symbolic and very expensive Javelin anti-tank missile systems.”

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

“Moscow Has Limited Options in Belarus,” John Lough, Chatham House, 09.27.19The author, an associate fellow at Chatham House, writes:

  • “The ‘integration plan’ negotiated by the ministers of the economy of Russia and Belarus falls far short of establishing a single monetary, banking and customs system as foreseen in the original Union State Treaty. The draft agreement focuses on a more modest range of economic integration measures including a single tax code, a single regulator for the energy markets and deepening of common customs policies.”
  • “Despite a weak hand, Lukashenka plays his cards with Moscow with considerable skill. He supports the integration agenda yet tries to cede as little control as possible in return for Russia’s economic support. His masterstroke has been to rid the political space of potential competitors, effectively forcing Putin to keep him in power for fear of an unpredictable transition that could cost Russia influence in Belarus. Moscow has not yet found a way to manage this problem and shows no signs of doing so.”

III. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

“Last Chance Saloon: The Race to Grab Russia’s Reserves,” Alexandra Prokopenko, Carnegie Moscow Center, 09.27.19The author, an independent journalist, writes:

  • “The main debate in Russia’s economic bloc right now is how best to spend the super profits from oil exports that are building up in the NWF [National Wealth Fund]. In accordance with budget rules, oil revenues in excess of $40 per barrel are channeled into the fund, and the threshold of 7 percent of GDP above which the law allows the treasure chest to be opened up will be passed by the end of this year. That means that in 2020, the treasury will have almost 2 trillion rubles ($31 billion) in its coffers that hasn’t been allocated for anything, and in 2021, if oil prices have not decreased drastically, more than 4 trillion rubles, according to calculations by the Finance Ministry.”
  • “Spending the surplus is the last chance for the state capitalists to get large sums of money for practically nothing, without looking beyond 2024. Meanwhile, it is the government that will have to bear the political risks of dispensing the NWF to the chosen few in full view of a society that is irate and becoming poorer for the fifth year in a row.”

“Unorthodox Appeal: Russian Priests Defend Moscow Protesters,” Ksenia Luchenko, Carnegie Moscow Center, 09.24.19The author, a journalist specializing in church affairs, writes:

  • “An open letter written by Russian Orthodox priests in defense of those imprisoned over recent protests in Moscow is that rare case when the use of the word ‘unprecedented’ is no exaggeration. It’s the first time ever that the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church have taken collective action that was not sanctioned by the church authorities.”

“Even Putin Is Now Worried About Climate Change,” Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg/The Moscow Times, 09.24.19The author, a columnist and veteran Russia watcher, writes:

  • “After years of procrastination, Russia, the world’s fourth-biggest greenhouse gas emitter, has officially joined the Paris climate agreement, which it signed in 2016. … Russia certainly has room to improve when it comes to emissions reduction. According to the consulting firm Enerdata, it has the second most energy-intensive economy in the world—after neighboring Ukraine.”
  • “The Russian government is about to try a climate-related set of goals to reduce the country’s fossil fuel dependence and improve the economy’s energy efficiency. Whether these intentions will lead to a drop in Russian emissions, or simply end up creating another tax on industry, is impossible to predict. But at least the evolution of Putin’s views on climate appears to be going in the right direction.”

Defense and aerospace:

“The Russian Military in Contemporary Perspective,” Edited by Stephen J. Blank, Strategic Studies Institute and U.S. Army War College Press, September 2019:

In “Chapter 5: Military Exercises: The Russian Way,” Isabelle Facon, a senior research fellow at Fon­dation pour la Recherche stratégique and a special­ist on Russian security and defense policies, writes:

  • “The sequence of certain exercises conducted simultaneously indicates, among other things, that Russia takes into account the possibility that it could have to handle two fronts at the same time.”
  • “Many of the largest-scale exercises and drills that include a nuclear dimension have taken place in the western part of Russia’s territory. For several years … Russia has worked on scenarios of conventional conflicts that Russian forces could put to an end only through a nuclear strike. The 2009 edition of Zapad … even included a simulated nuclear attack on Poland (the drill involved 12,500 servicemen, half of which were Russians, and its scenario was based on the need for the Russian and Belarusian militaries to repel a NATO attack on Belarus).”
  • “Combat training and exercises have been used by the Russian military to test original ways to constrain and limit the West’s military freedom of maneuver either at Russia’s borders … or, as in Syria, where Moscow intends to promote its interests by military means.” 

In “Chapter 6: The Mobilization  Of Russian Society,” Ray Finch, a Eurasian military analyst for the Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth, writes:

  • “Over the past half-decade, the Kremlin leadership has not only been mobilizing the consciousness of Russian society for the eventuality of conflict, but it also has taken concrete actions to improve the readiness and combat capability of its various armed forces.”
  • “With each passing month, as the Kremlin continues to manipulate the information space, a significant percentage of the Russian government, power ministries and people are growing more hostile toward the West in general and the United States in particular.”

In “Chapter 7: Modernization Versus Mobilization,” Aleksandr Golts, an independent Russian military expert, writes:

  • “According to the plans of the MoD [Ministry of Defense] at the time of this writing, the armed forces should grow by only 10,000 troops this year. It is enough to staff only one division fully, but not 40 new units. In this situation, there may be two options.”
  • “The first option would be to create new divisions on the ‘western direction,’ where Russia could transfer troops from other regions. … Most likely, Kremlin military planners will choose the other way. The MoD will begin to create the skeleton units that can gain combat ability; only after that, will they be staffed by reservists, who do not exist in reality. This will be the return to the discredited mass mobilization concept.”
  • “Confrontation with the West inevitably leads to the rebirth of the mass mobilization concept that killed the USSR.”

In “Chapter 10: Future Russian Strategic Nuclear and Non-Nuclear Forces: 2022,” James R. Howe, a former U.S. Army officer, writes:

  • “Russia will likely allocate forces for: 1) nuclear (both major nuclear war and precision, low-yield, strategic nuclear war); 2) global conventional strike; 3) the suppression of U.S. defenses; and 4) to either deter or coerce China, or both.” 
  • “The combination of a declining state creating need and strategic/theater nuclear superiority providing means, together with effective air/missile defenses and extensive civil defenses that reduce vulnerabilities, when combined with psychological preparation of the population, means Russia will be willing to accept far more escalation risk than the United States or NATO, leading to more assertive actions in the use of strategic and non-strategic nuclear forces.”

In “Chapter 11: A Clinic on Clausewitz: Lessons of Russia’s Syria Campaign,” Stephen J. Blank, an expert on Russian foreign and defense policies and in­ternational relations across the former Soviet Union, writes:

  • “As of now, [Russia’s] operations in Syria represent a successful use of limited military power and forces for the achievement of discrete, visible and tangible strategic gains.”
  • “Putin, who is a strategist despite hundreds of misplaced Western analyses and critiques of his supposed failures that do not grasp the meaning of the term ‘strategist,’ is still conducting a clinic on Clausewitz for the benefits of his clearly bemused and disoriented audiences abroad.”
  • “Despite his country’s and government’s manifest weaknesses, he, not NATO, is on the offensive. If Syria and the Middle East are quagmires, it is Washington’s burden, not Moscow’s. This may change if Putin cannot bring about (with his allies’ cooperation) a stabilizing process for Syria’s reconstruction.”

In “Chapter 20: Russian Military Power and Policy in the Far East,” Richard Weitz, a senior fellow and director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at Hudson Institute, writes:

  • “The increased Russian defense activities in the Far East demonstrates renewed Russian military capabilities in general and, specifically, shows that Russia is a Pacific power.”
  • “Perhaps the major uncertainty in assessing future Russian military trends in the region is anticipating how deeply Russia’s economic malaise will impede the planned increase in Russian military capabilities. Thus far, the government has generally sustained the elevated defense spending of recent years despite cutbacks in many other areas of government spending.”

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • No significant commentary.