What Will Russian Military Capabilities Look Like in the Future?
Jun 18, 2019
Since 2008 Russia's military forces have improved, enabling Russian military operations in Crimea, eastern Ukraine, and Syria. Researchers analyze the societal, political, economic, and demographic factors that undergird Russian military power. Based on these factors, they analyze how Russian ground combat capabilities will evolve. The challenge for the U.S. military will be to compete in different regions without provoking escalation.
Russia's Ground Combat Capabilities and Implications for U.S.-Russia Competition
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Russia and the United States have countervailing interests in multiple areas. Since 2008 Russia's military forces have improved substantially, enabling Russia to pursue its interests much more aggressively, including intervening in Crimea, eastern Ukraine, and Syria. Researchers analyze the factors that undergird Russian military power: societal, political, economic, and demographic. They then turn to specific ground combat capability areas, such as the maneuver ground forces, indirect fires, long-range strike, and C4ISR. The researchers expect relative continuity in the development of Russia's military capabilities but recognize that change is possible were energy prices to increase or decrease or Russia's relations with the West or China shift. The key challenge for the U.S. military will be to develop capabilities that can enable the United States to compete with Russia and achieve U.S. interests across different regions and intensities of conflict without provoking escalation. The report presents several recommendations to the U.S. Army, including considering how best to respond to Russia's military dominance in the near abroad and how to prepare for potential conflict with Russian forces and their proxies in the Middle East. Given Russia's security policy and economic and demographic constraints, the researchers do not foresee Russia initiating a conflict with the West. Nevertheless, the U.S. Army should prepare to counter Russian capabilities that challenge current U.S. forces, including long-range strike, C4ISR, and rapidly deployable forces.
Factors Underlying Russian Military Power
Key Capability Areas for Ground Combat
Future Russian Capabilities
The research described in this report was sponsored by the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7, U.S. Army and conducted by the Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program within the RAND Arroyo Center.
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