Moscow's Calibrated Coercion in Ukraine and Russian Strategic Culture

Published in: George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, Number 063 (September 2020)

by Samuel Charap

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Russian operations in Ukraine are driven by a senior-level policy decision to pursue a persistent but indecisive conflict-as opposed to a decisive "big war"-type military operation or a truly "frozen" conflict (i.e., without regular bloodshed). This paper terms the tactic calibrated coercion and the outcome a simmering conflict. Calibrated coercion seems to be somewhat of a departure from the strategic-cultural preference for quick military operations with overwhelming force to produce decisive outcomes. The simmering effect, however, is consistent with Russian approaches to managing problems. Thus far, this approach has produced results, but its effectiveness over the long term remains a question mark.

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