Here are some excerpts and observations from a piece by foreign policy expert Ivo Daalder, published in Foreign Affairs titled, “The Revival of the Russian Military,” which are extremely relevant to the U.S. and NATO in general:
- In one of the most dramatic campaigns of peacetime demilitarization in world history, from 1988 to 1994, Moscow’s armed forces shrank from five million to one million personnel.
- From 1991 to 2008, during the presidency of Boris Yeltsin and the first presidential term of Vladimir Putin, Russia used its scaled-down military within the borders of the former Soviet Union, largely to contain, end, or freeze conflicts there.
- Beyond the borders of the former Soviet Union, Russia acted meekly. It sought a partnership with the United States and at times cooperated with NATO, joining the peacekeeping operation led by that alliance in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1996.
- Those days of decay and docility are now gone. Beginning in 2008, Putin ushered in military reforms and a massive increase in defense spending to upgrade Russia’s creaky military. Thanks to that project, Russia has recently evinced a newfound willingness to use force to get what it wants.
- Recent interventions are a far cry from the massive campaigns the Soviet Union used to undertake. But the fact is, Russia is once again capable of deterring any other great power, defending itself if necessary, and effectively projecting force along its periphery and beyond. After a quarter-century of military weakness, Russia is back as a serious military force in Eurasia.
Russia’s long-term objectives, Daalder explains in a separate piece:
- Under Vladimir Putin, Russia has embarked on a systematic challenge to the West. The goal is to weaken the bonds between Europe and the United States and among EU members, undermine NATO’s solidarity, and strengthen Russia’s strategic position in its immediate neighborhood and beyond.
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