The Russian Military in Contemporary Perspective

  • September 24, 2019
  • Dr Stephen J Blank

Wherever one looks, Russia is carrying out aggressive military and informational attacks against the West in Europe, North and South America, the Arctic, and the Middle East. This “war against the West” actually began over a decade ago, but its most jarring and shocking event, the one that started to focus Western minds on Russia, was the invasion of Ukraine in 2014. Given this pattern, the National Security Council (NSC) in 2014 invited Stephen Blank to organize a conference on the Russian military. We were able to launch the conference in 2016 and bring together a distinguished international group of experts on the Russian military to produce the papers that were then subsequently updated for presentation here.

The results presented here are sobering, to say the least. Ray Finch and Aleksandr Golts high-light the domestic program of military mobilization of Russian society that began before 2014 and has only intensified since then. It aims to engender a positive, heroic image for the military and the idea that Russia is under siege from the West. This campaign has also gone hand in hand with signs of greatly enhanced defense spending, although there have been cuts in 2017-2018 due to sanctions. However, despite the fact that Paul Schwartz rightly points out that Russia’s science and technology sectors are wounded and suffer from excessive militarization, he and Steven Rosefielde undermine the complacent and excessively comfortable notion that Russian economic weak-ness?which is real—will lead to the collapse of the system or its retreat from its current posture.