Russian Grand Strategy: Reality and Rhetoric

October 2021 No Comments

Speaker(s): Charap, S. (Senior Political Scientist, RAND); Massicot, D. (Senior Policy Researcher, RAND)

Date: 14 October 2021

Speaker Session Summary

SMA hosted a speaker session with Dr. Samuel Charap (Senior Political Scientist, RAND) and Ms. Dara Massicot (Senior Policy Researcher, RAND), as part of its SMA EUCOM Speaker Series.  

Russia’s strategic military doctrine mostly matches their conventional military actions. Ultimately, its main objective is to increase its own domestic and border security, especially along its borders with post-Soviet States. Dr. Charap commented that Russian military doctrine indicates that Russian leaders are predicting an increasingly multipolar world, which will increase the global political influence of many countries and weaken the overall political influence from Western states. Russian leaders believe that decreasing Western countries’ influence will increase Russia’s standing as a global leader and increase Russian security. However, they also believe that for this new multipolar world to occur, the world must experience a transitional phase during which interstate conflict is more likely and global security decreases. This shift of global focus can be seen in Russia’s interactions with non-West countries. Even though it believes that this transitional phase will decrease global security, Russia does not believe that it will need to create a strong expeditionary military force.

However, Russia has bolstered its military capabilities along its borders; especially with post-soviet states. Ms. Massicot commented that this shows Russia is willing to use its military to force coercion in a region that it still considers its own. While bolstering its military forces seems contradictory to Russian doctrine, which emphasizes the importance of non-conventional military activity, it is unlikely that Russia will build its forces capabilities enough to endure a long war with another major power. For example, Russia still struggles to carry out air and sea lift operations. Also, Russia does not have strong foreign support from its allies, or a large network of military bases to exert its military or political influence. Ultimately Russian doctrine emphasizes smaller military operations and

Speaker Session Recording

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Briefing Materials


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