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Category archive for: Russia

What’s behind Russia’s military build-up in Syria?

Written by Alexander Titov.

Evidence is emerging of a significant intensification of Russia’s military support for the Assad government. While the exact scale and purpose of Russia’s latest deployments remain obscure, the available evidence suggests that the Russians are preparing an airbase near the city of Latakia for possible airstrikes in support of the Syrian army, complete with several hundred Russian troops protecting it.

This is in addition to a Russian navy refuelling facility already in operation in the port of Tartus, and substantial supplies of weapons and military advisers for the Syrian regime which the Soviet Union and Russia have been supplying Syria for decades.

Such is the concern in the West at Vladimir Putin’s motives for this military build-up in Russia’s war-torn client state that the reports prompted the US to put pressure on the Greekand Bulgarian governments to close their airspace to Russian planes bound for Syria. Continue reading What’s behind Russia’s military build-up in Syria?

Russia’s ‘New Way of War’? Asymmetric warfare and the Ukraine Crisis

By Bettina Renz

As I argued in my previous blog entry, ‘Russia Resurgent?’, conclusions about Russia’s conventional military capabilities drawn from operations in Crimea and the subsequent armed conflict in East Ukraine should not be exaggerated. In terms of manpower, training and equipment Russia is likely to trail far behind NATO and advanced Western militaries for a long time to come. However, Russian military performance particularly in Crimea has also raised concerns in the West about its growing abilities to wage asymmetric warfare. A NATO Defence Committee Report entitled “Towards the Next Defence and Security Review: Part Two – NATO” and published in July 2014 concluded that Russia had developed ‘new and less conventional military techniques’ and asserted that its use of ‘these asymmetric tactics (sometimes described as unconventional, ambiguous or non-linear warfare)…represents the most immediate threat to its NATO neighbours and other NATO Member States’. In the same report, former Chief of Staff of the British Armed Forces, Lord Richards, cautioned that whilst NATO had significant military capabilities ‘there was every chance it could be defeated by asymmetric tactics’. The report recommended that NATO, in response to this challenge ‘create an Alliance doctrine for “ambiguous warfare” and make the case for investment in an Alliance asymmetric or “ambiguous warfare” capability’.

Continue reading Russia’s ‘New Way of War’? Asymmetric warfare and the Ukraine Crisis

Russia resurgent? Russian military performance in Crimea and its implications on Western defence requirements

By Bettina Renz

Russia’s annexation of Crimea and subsequent developments in East Ukraine prompted much speculation in the West about Russia’s ‘new military prowess’. Many analysts and decision makers, including in NATO, concluded that modernisation efforts over the past few years had transformed the Russian military into a force that now posed a real threat to European and transatlantic security. Serious discussions are already underway about what this might mean for Europe’s and NATO’s future defence capabilities and requirements. There seems to be much agreement that Russia’s new-found military strength needs to be met with more military spending in the West. Sweden has announced an increase in its defence budget in response to the Ukraine crisis. This will include the expansion of its fighter jet fleet from 60 to 70 aircraft as well as the procurement of two new submarines. A UK Parliamentary Defence Committee report concluded that events in Crimea and Ukraine were a ‘game changer for UK defence policy [that] provoked a fundamental re-assessment of both the prioritisation of threats in the National Security Strategy and military capabilities required by the UK’. Is this a realistic assessment? What can the conflict in Ukraine really tell us about Russian conventional warfighting capabilities?

Continue reading Russia resurgent? Russian military performance in Crimea and its implications on Western defence requirements