Hybrid Warfare–4 Aug 14

Russian tactics in Ukraine test divided West’s defence policy
Professor Stefan Hedlund
Geopolitical Information Service | August 1, 2014

Fears of an overwhelming Russian ground invasion of Ukraine did not materialise. But the conflict has given the Kremlin the chance to flex its military muscles, deploy irregular forces while remaining insistent that it is not involved, and gamble – successfully – that Nato would not intervene militarily. If Moscow now destabilises other countries with the same methods, the West will again risk being locked into a disorganised retreat by way of empty threats.

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Militia members in the Lugansk People’s Republic, a self-proclaimed state in eastern Ukraine (photo: dpa)

THE CRISIS in Ukraine was dominated in its early stages by fears of an overwhelming Russian ground invasion.

Nato sources estimated that some 40,000 troops had been massed on Ukraine’s eastern border. These forces were deemed capable of performing a quick dash across southern Ukraine, where they would link up with Russian troops stationed in Transnistria, the eastern breakaway province of Moldova.

The Ukrainian armed forces, said at the time to have no more than 6,000 combat-ready troops, would be quickly brushed aside.

Apprehension spiked after March 1, 2014, when the Russian parliament, the Duma, unanimously approved authorisation for President Vladimir Putin to send troops into Ukraine. Full-scale war between two of the largest states in Europe was deemed inevitable.

These fears did not materialise. But the dark shadow which the Kremlin cast over its neighbour sent shockwaves through the post-Soviet region as a whole.

Complex threats

Even countries which had already achieved the seeming security of Nato membership, notably Poland and the Baltic republics, began to express serious concerns. They demanded visible assurance that the principle of collective defence enshrined in Article 5 of Nato’s charter would be honoured, if needed.

It is easy enough to sympathise with such worries. In the event of a determined Russian military assault, a country like Estonia would be overrun in hours.

But is this really a correct reading of events as they have played out? Does Russia really pose a military threat to Nato? Or should we be concerned about a more complex set of threats?

There can be no doubt that the Kremlin’s determination to beef up its military capability has produced tangible results in the form of improved performance and increased access to advanced weaponry.

This underscores the urgency of increasingly insistent demands from the United States that Nato’s European members must do more to shoulder the burden of joint defence.

Military muscle

And it suggests that Nato has been correct in responding to worries from its new members in eastern Europe by increasing its military presence in the region, mainly in the air, and undertaking joint military exercises, designed to practise rapid reinforcement.

But one nagging question will remain. Even if the Europeans re-arm, and Nato increases its military presence in those countries at risk, will this really be sufficient to ensure increased security in Europe?

Looking back at how the stand-off between Russia and the West over Ukraine has evolved, we may draw three conclusions which suggest the emergence of a new and rather complicated security structure on the continent.

The first concerns the capability of Russian forces. The Kremlin has been flexing its military muscles. The large-scale deployment drills which formed part of the mobilisation against Ukraine were also part of a pattern of similar action to test readiness conducted over several years, often at very short notice.

There is obvious rationality in this pattern. Beyond the facade of bellicose rhetoric against Nato, the Russian military is legitimately concerned about potential threats from both the Caucasus and central Asia, the latter in the event of a Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.

Irregular forces

The response has been to build a rapid deployment force of maybe 100,000 troops with heavy airlift and combined arms capacity. Nato should accept and welcome this as a stabilising force on Russia’s southern perimeter.

Beyond these elite forces, it remains highly questionable to what degree Russia’s troops would be able to conduct modern warfare.

Even if the 40,000 on Ukraine’s border did prove that they could deploy rapidly and efficiently, we still have not seen them in combat. And the remainder, including much of the air force, is generally considered to remain at a status of low readiness and possess obsolete equipment.

The bottom line is that actual combat between Russia and Nato would end very badly for Moscow.

The second conclusion suggests that there is little comfort in this. The main challenge to Nato’s defensive doctrine lies in the fact that the Kremlin has developed a new form of warfare which has proved to be depressingly effective. The centrepiece is ‘plausible deniability’.

It is true that the mobilisation against Ukraine did involve an element of overwhelming force. But it is also true that actual action on the ground has been undertaken by a motley crew of irregular forces, clad in black ski masks and wearing no insignia on their uniforms, and often wearing ordinary clothes.

Special case

Until the tragic downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 in rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, the Kremlin was successful in denying it had any role in supporting these forces. The lightning strike to seize Crimea was performed by what reporters called ‘little green men’ who even the Kremlin eventually recognised – and honoured – as Russian special forces.

They were able to exploit Moscow’s naval base at Sevastopol as a Trojan horse of sorts, using its port and airstrips to infiltrate troops clandestinely. And the presence of the 40,000 regular soldiers on the eastern border was sufficient to deter the Ukrainian armed forces from intervening.

The fact that Crimea was taken with few, if any, shots fired in anger is bad news for other countries with Russian bases on their territory, including Moldova, Georgia and Armenia.

But it remains a rather special case. The broader challenge to Nato lies in the way the Kremlin has succeeded in destabilising eastern Ukraine, and in fanning a brutal civil war, while remaining insistent that it is in no way involved.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko assumed a tough-guy stance following his election in May 2014, ordering an ‘anti-terror operation’ designed to burn out the rebellion.

Changed equation

The liberation of Slavyansk on July 7, 2014, seemed to confirm that success was close at hand. But Russia responded by increasing the flow of tanks, armoured personnel carriers, Grad rocket launchers and surface-to-air missiles. The downing of Flight MH17 was a tragic consequence of this escalation, of rebels gaining access to a BUK missile battery which they were incapable of handling.

If the airliner had not been shot down, the Kremlin would probably have remained successful in claims of not being involved, and the hand of the rebels could have been strengthened without provoking sanctions.

The tragedy of 298 innocent people being blown out of the sky changed the equation. Plausible deniability is gone, and Mr Putin has taken heavy criticism for his alleged involvement – despite the absence of proof.

The third conclusion to be drawn suggests that the main reason why the Kremlin succeeded for so long in claiming innocence rests in the deep internal divisions which so obviously plague and paralyse the West.

To begin with, the Kremlin has been convinced that Nato would not intervene. Perhaps the only really credible statement made by US President Barack Obama during the crisis was when he noted, at the outset, that Nato would not resort to military force. This gave Russia carte blanche to conjure up the threat of a massive ground invasion.

Grim lessons

Having ruled out military intervention, the West has relied instead on sanctions. But the effectiveness of such threats may be summarised by saying that ‘if you cross the red line we will warn you, if you do not withdraw we will warn you again, and if you persist in defiance you will get yet another warning’.

It is not surprising that the Kremlin has failed to be impressed. Mr Putin and his men have been confident that while the West has been long on talk, it will remain short on action.

The downing of Flight MH17 has been a game-changer, suddenly galvanising Western political resolve and turning the tables on Russia. But there is nothing to suggest that Mr Putin is about to back off.

Reinforcements to the rebels are escalating and the endgame in Donetsk looks set to be a bloody. The scorecard of Western support for Ukraine is not a happy one.

Looking towards the future, there are grim lessons to be learned. Mutual animosity between Russia and the West has reached a point where negotiation and rebuilding trust appear distant goals. Escalating sanctions and international isolation will inflict heavy damage on Russia, and the Kremlin will retreat deeper into domestic repression, coupled with rallying against the enemy.

Common interest

If it continues probing for Western weakness, its opponents will draw little comfort from having superior military power. The Kremlin, knowing that Nato will be extremely reluctant to face a real battle, will be able to make much out of the forces it has.

And if Russia engages in destabilisation of other countries on the pattern set in Ukraine, the West will again risk being locked into a disorganised retreat by way of empty threats.

As former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger noted on March 5, ‘For the West, the demonisation of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.’

This needs to stop. The first step on a long road towards negotiation and reconciliation with Russia simply has to be the formulation of a unified security concept which prevents the Kremlin from playing divide and conquer. It needs to place the common interest before the rivalry of nation states and place long-term security and stability before the short-term interests of commerce.

It will not be easy. But the alternative is truly depressing.

http://www.geopolitical-info.com/en/article/1406868203444625500

 

Breedlove: NATO must redefine responses to unconventional threats
John Vandiver
Stars and Stripes | July 31, 2014

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Supreme Allied Commander Europe Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove talks to the media after visiting a Patriot missile battery of the 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment in Gaziantep, Turkey on Thursday, July 31, 2014. He urged NATO to redefine its commitment to defend member states from aggression by adding new and unconventional threats such as cyberwarfare and irregular militia operations. Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes

GAZIANTEP, Turkey — NATO’s top military commander on Thursday said the alliance should redefine its core commitment to defend its members from external aggression by factoring in new and unconventional threats such as cyberwarfare and irregular militia operations.

“We need to mature the way we think about cyber, the way we think about irregular warfare, so that we can define in NATO what takes it over that limit by which we now have to react,” Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO supreme allied commander, said during a stop at a U.S. Patriot antimissile site in southern Turkey. For NATO, Article 5 of the alliance’s founding treaty has long served as the bedrock of the 28-nation pact, ensuring that an attack on one member demands a collective response from all. Its roots are in the Cold War when the threat was singular — overt military action from the Soviet Union. Now, Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and its involvement in eastern Ukraine show how threats in Europe have morphed, Breedlove said.

Though Ukraine is not a NATO member state, Russia’s arming and backing of separatists there as a way to create instability must be factored into how NATO plans its responses in future, said Breedlove, who also serves as head of the U.S. European Command.

“We see Russian leadership in Ukraine. Russian supplies, armament, financing, everything inside Ukraine. What does that mean as it relates to how we define Article 4 and Article 5?” Breedlove asked. “It is illustrative for us to look at this form of warfare we’re seeing from Russia and how we will react to it in the future.” Article 4 of the NATO treaty allows members to ask for consultations on any issue it feels may affect security.

Breedlove’s comments come as NATO is preparing for a major summit in September, when heads of state will assemble in Wales with the aim of restructuring elements of the military alliance to better prepare for potential threats emanating out of Russia.

Russia denies that it has intervened in the conflict in Ukraine. Moscow has also dismissed as “ridiculous” allegations that it represents a threat to the security of any NATO country.

Still, a report from a British parliament defense committee, looking ahead of the NATO summit Britain is hosting, said NATO must take swift action to transform itself, especially in light of unconventional Russian tactics in Ukraine.

A crippling cyberattack in 2007 on Estonia — a NATO member once under Soviet domination — which was believed by Western officials to have been conducted by Russia, also raises questions about NATO’s capacity to respond to assaults even on its territory.

“A Russian unconventional attack, using asymmetric tactics (the latest term for this is “ambiguous warfare”), designed to slip below NATO’s response threshold, would be particularly difficult to counter,” the U.K. report stated. “And the challenges, which NATO faces in deterring, or mounting an adequate response to, such an attack poses a fundamental risk to NATO’s credibility.”

NATO must adapt to become more responsive to such threats, according to the report by Britain’s House of Commons Defence Committee, which recommends:

  • NATO make dramatic improvements to the existing rapid reaction force;
  • Pre-position equipment in the Baltic states;
  • Maintain a continuous presence of NATO troops to conduct training and exercises in the Baltics;
  • Re-establishment of large-scale military exercises, including representatives from all NATO states.

NATO also must examine the circumstances in which the Article 5 mutual defense guarantee will be invoked in the face of asymmetric attack, the report stated.

In the past, many west European members of the alliance have been reluctant to station forces close to Russia’s borders, feating tha this might antagonize Moscow.

Breedlove, who has spoken of the need for NATO to reorganize various headquarters and transform the NATO Response Force into a more rapidly deployable force, said NATO is reviewing a broad range of measures to deal with such shortcomings.

Among the measures being looked at is forward positioned equipment closer to potential hotspots in the east and a more constant presence of NATO forces in the region. What is not yet clear is how NATO will deploy forces in the east and whether those measures would be a permanent or a rotational presence. That is a matter for political leaders, Breedlove said.

“The most important thing is, we are going to work on measures that will make NATO more responsive,” Breedlove said.

“I believe this is a very important time here in Europe, perhaps the most critical since the end of the Cold War.”

http://www.stripes.com/news/breedlove-nato-must-redefine-responses-to-unconventional-threats-1.296129

 

Ukraine must be a wake-up call for NATO
The Defence Committee publishes its Third Report of Session 2014-15, Towards the Next Defence and Security Review: Part Two – NATO, HC 358
Defence Committee | 31 July 2014

The Defence Committee, in its report published today, argues that recent events in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine should be a wake-up call for NATO and the UK. It argues that NATO is not well prepared to face the new threat posed by Russia. NATO has serious deficiencies in its command and control structures, in its ability to predict and give adequate warning of potential attack, and in the readiness of its forces. NATO may not have the collective political will to take concerted action to deter attack.

Russian Federation actions in Ukraine have now raised the prospect, however unlikely, of a Russian attack on a NATO Member State. The risk of a conventional attack by the Russian Federation on a NATO state is low, but NATO needs to take much more action to deter that risk. The risk of an unconventional attack using the “ambiguous warfare” tactics deployed in Ukraine and elsewhere, whilst still small, is more substantial and would be even more difficult to counter.

NATO needs to reorder, train and exercise its capabilities to be able to defend against both eventualities. The Committee calls on the UK Government to take the lead at the NATO Summit in Wales in September to ensure that NATO is ready to face such threats.

Recommendations

The Committee’s specific recommendations call for:

  • The pre-positioning of military equipment in the Baltic States;
  • A continuous presence of NATO troops on training and exercises in the Baltic;
  • The re-establishment of large-scale military exercises including all NATO Member States and involving political decision makers;
  • Improvements to the NATO rapid reaction force and the possible establishment of a new Standing Reserve Force for NATO;
  • Improvements to processes for warning of imminent attack;
  • Radical improvements in Russian expertise in the UK government, allowing for real analysis and assessment of the Russian threat;
  • The development of new tactics to respond to the threat of “ambiguous” attacks from Russia – including how to counter threats from cyber, information warfare, and irregular militia; and
  • A reconsideration of Article 5, to allow response to less conventional attacks.

The committee concludes that the threats to UK security are increasingly dynamic in their scale, complexity, uncertainty and urgency. NATO needs radical reform to be able to anticipate, plan and respond to these threats. Threats from terrorism and failed states continue to increase, change and develop. Meanwhile, events in Ukraine and Crimea represent the re-emergence of a real state on state threat to NATO’s eastern borders.

Committee Chair

Rory Stewart MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

"The risk of attack by Russia on a NATO Member State, whilst still small, is significant. We are not convinced that NATO is ready for this threat. NATO has been too complacent about the threat from Russia, and it is not well-prepared. Even worse, the nature of Russian tactics is changing fast – including cyber-attacks, information warfare, and the backing of irregular ‘separatist groups’, combining armed civilians with Russian Special Forces operating without insignia. We have already seen how these tactics have been deployed by Russia and its proxies in Ukraine to destabilise a NATO partner state, annex part of its territory, and paralyse its ability to respond.

The instability in Russia, President Putin’s world-view, and the failure of the West to respond actively in Ukraine means that we now have to  address urgently the possibility – however small – of Russia repeating such tactics elsewhere. In particular, the NATO Member States in the Baltic are vulnerable. We are not convinced that NATO or the UK Government has fully grasped the implications of this threat.

The UK has the opportunity at the Wales summit to lead the reordering of NATO. It should drive the planning and capabilities now required to counter such threats. It should ensure that NATO begins to train and exercise at a scale to make its ‘deterrence’ credible. The UK should demonstrate leadership in this area.   To make Articles 5 and 4 of the Washington Treaty credible, NATO needs to re-examine its capabilities and organisational structures. It must put itself again into a position to carry out its core responsibilities of protecting its member states. It needs to do this alongside its current focus on terror and failed states".

Towards the Next Defence and Security Review: Part Two – NATO, HC 358

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/defence-committee/news/report-tndsr/

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The Ukrainian Conflict – 4 Aug 14 [III]

Why We Fight (Over Land)
Joshua Keating
Slate | March 28 2014

From the outside, it’s hard to see how the annexation of Crimea was a rational decision for Russia. As yesterday’s vote in the U.N. General Assembly showed, Moscow is now more politically isolated than ever. Its economy is paying a steep price thanks to harsh sanctions and tumbling markets. Moscow now has responsibility for yet another autonomous unrecognized region of questionable strategic importance—one that just happens to depend on Ukraine for its power and water. 

Then again, when it comes to territory, states often behave in ways that seem illogical to outsiders. Why is public opinion in South Korea, China, and Japan so inflamed by the question of who owns a series of uninhabited rocks? Why does Israel continually subject itself to international opprobrium by constructing new settlements in the West Bank?

In the most recent issue of the journal International Security, Monica Duffy-Toft and Dominic Johnson, political scientists at Oxford, argue that a new theoretical framework is needed to analyze such behavior, one rooted in evolutionary biology. They write:

Territorial behavior facilitates effective competition for resources such as food, mates, shelter, breeding sites, and security from predators. Territory per se—a particular patch of ground—is not necessarily intrinsically valuable. For example, you cannot eat land, but you can eat food that grows there. Territory is therefore a proxy through which organisms secure access to key resources and protect them from competitors. Across the animal kingdom, as well as in preindustrial human societies, access to and control over resources have been essential for survival and reproduction, and adaptations to acquire these via territorial behavior have been subject to strong selection pressure throughout evolutionary history.

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As Duffy-Toft told me an interview today, “It comes back to survival and reproduction. There’s an instinct that we need land in order to exist. We need to have the capacity to get resources to live our lives.”

But as she points out, territorial behavior need not always lead to violence. “It’s to our advantage to have borders, to delineate them and understand the basis of who lives where,” she said. “[The model] may explain why it is that states go after territories that have no material basis, or that the costs are higher than what they will get out of them.”

Generally speaking, when opponents enter into conflicts—whether birds fighting over a nesting site or states going to war over a border dispute—the actor that previously occupied the territory has an advantage.

“If somebody’s a resident, they seem to fight harder. They’re much more apt to be aggressive,” Duffy-Toft says. “As residents, they know the feel of it and the smell and where to find food, but if they come to the conclusion that they don’t have the capacity to defend that territory, they will abandon it.”

A version of this dynamic played out in Ukraine. Even though Crimea was part of Ukraine,  local sentiment and ground conditions were favorable to Russia, and it was clear that Kiev didn’t have the means to challenge Russia’s territorial aggression. So Putin’s move went unchallenged, and the territory—in terms of de facto control if not international recognition—changed hands without much bloodshed.

Duffy-Toft acknowledges that the thesis is controversial. While their piece is currently the lead article in International Security, one of the more prestigious journals in the field, it took almost 10 years to get it published.

“We’re pushing up against real biases in our field,” she says. “Scholars don’t want to admit that our behavior can be constrained by the fact that we’re animals. They say we’ve developed norms in place to mitigate against that. That’s true, but let’s look at where those institutions came from.”

Fighting over territory may be a fundamental biological impulse, but it’s become much rarer, particularly since World War II. This is part of the argument the United States has used to make the case that Russia’s actions are beyond the pale for a modern state. "You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion," said John Kerry. "The United States does not view Europe as a battleground between East and West," said President Obama, "nor do we see the situation in Ukraine as a zero-sum game. That’s the kind of thinking that should have ended with the Cold War." (This is also key to the controversial distinction Obama drew this week between the Iraq war and the invasion of Crimea. Whatever actions the United States may have taken in Iraq, in Obama’s view, the country’s sovereignty was not violated as Iraq’s borders never changed.)

Part of the reason why territorial wars are now rare may be that the killing capacity of states has increased so much due to improvements in weaponry, particularly nuclear weapons. The costs of challenging a state’s residency in a given territory is now so high that few countries are willing to try it, and international norms have been developed to preserve the current status quo.

This has left us with a situation in which basically every piece of land on the Earth is recognized as part of one state or another and borders are rarely challenged—or at least rarely challenged by force. “There’s a recognition that warfare is a lot more costly today,” Duffy-Toft said. “Preserving [the existing] boundaries is recognition that this equilibrium is the best all-around.”

The small exceptions to that rule—contested territories like the West Bank or Kashmir, breakaway states like Abkhazia or Somaliland—are where fights over territory are most likely to occur.

Ukraine’s residency was weak enough in Crimea that Putin was able to take it without a fight, but that’s not the case in eastern Ukraine, where Kiev’s claim to the territory is much stronger.  An evolutionary model suggests the Ukrainians would feel compelled to fight back if Russia challenged their hold over this territory.

Duffy-Toft, currently attending a conference of the International Studies Association in Toronto, noted that in addition to her paper finally being published, “territoriality has made a comeback” in the world of international relations scholarship. Though the conference was planned before the invasion of Crimea, “there’s a lot of interest this year in questions about human attachment to land, territory, and identity."

This could be a sign, as some are now arguing, that an older model of geopolitics is making a comeback. As Duffy-Toft put it, “people are going back to fundamentals.”

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world_/2014/03/28/the_evolution_of_territorial_conflict_a_new_paper_argues_that_there_s_a.html

 

"Grounds for War: The Evolution of Territorial Conflict"
Dominic D.P. Johnson, Monica Duffy Toft
International Security | volume 38, issue 3 – Winter 2013/14, pages pp. 7-38

SUMMARY

International relations theory has thus far failed to account for the recurrence and severity of territorial conflict, especially over land with little or no value. Evolutionary biology offers a unique explanation for this behavior. An examination of territoriality across the animal kingdom as well as evolutionary game theory that deals with territorial behavior generates novel predictions about when territorial conflict is likely to occur.

Full text of "Grounds for War: The Evolution of Territorial Conflict" (170K PDF)

 

Grounds for Hope: The Evolutionary Science behind Territorial Conflict
Johnson, Dominic D.P. and Monica Duffy Toft
Policy Brief, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, March 2014

This policy brief is based on "Grounds for War: The Evolution of Territorial Conflict" which appears in the winter 2013/14 issue of International Security.

BOTTOM LINES

  • Territory Dominates Past and Present Conflict. Throughout history, and as reflected in today’s most sensitive flash points—such as Jerusalem, Kashmir, the South China Sea—most wars have centered on the conquest, defense, or control of territory. Conflict over territory is unsurprising when it contains material or strategic resources. However, the pervasiveness and severity of territorial aggression remains puzzling, particularly when actors fight over land devoid of material or strategic value.
  • Recurrent Patterns of Territoriality in Nature. Territorial behavior—territoriality—is not unique to humans. It is widespread across the animal kingdom, and scientific research reveals recurrent behavioral patterns that transcend species and context, notably: (1) territorial incumbents tend to win, even against stronger opponents; (2) aggression tends to be the dominant strategy, even when fighting is costly; and (3) territorial behavior varies with the degree of harm combatants can inflict, the value attached to a territory, and the costs of finding alternative territory.
  • New Insights for Conflict Resolution. This wider evolutionary framework suggests why people may be willing to fight over territory even when the costs are high and the probability of success is low, outlines conditions under which territorial aggression is more or less likely, and suggests new ways to avoid it.

TERRITORY DOMINATES PAST AND PRESENT CONFLICT

Throughout history, the defense of or desire for territory has led to recurrent and severe conflict. States are prepared to fight, and individuals to die, even over land with little intrinsic value. Depending on the method of measurement, statistical studies show that territorial disputes account for one-quarter to three-quarters of all wars. Moreover, explicitly territorial disputes are more likely to lead to war than other types of dispute, more likely to lead to recurrent conflict, and more likely to result in high fatalities if war occurs. Areas regarded as "homeland" are particularly volatile and violently contested. When territory holds resources or offers a strategic location, conflict can be perfectly rational. In many territorial conflicts, however, material benefits are absent, and even where they are present, the sensitivity and severity of conflict are so great that territorial aggression poses a significant puzzle in search of an explanation, and an important problem in search of policy innovations.

RECURRENT PATTERNS OF TERRITORIALTY IN NATURE

Territorial behavior is puzzling only if we ignore the context in which it has evolved. From an evolutionary perspective, territoriality is not puzzling, and in fact shows recurrent patterns and common strategies that transcend species and context. Territorial behavior is prevalent not only among humans, but across the animal kingdom. It has evolved independently across a broad array of taxonomic groups and ecological contexts, from the depths of the ocean to rainforest canopies, and from arid deserts to the Arctic tundra. This recurrence of territorial behavior suggests evolutionary "convergence" on a tried and tested solution to a common strategic problem—an efficient way to secure access to key resources. Organisms have thus tended to develop territoriality because it is an effective strategy for survival and reproduction.

A long tradition of research in evolutionary biology has used game theory and fieldwork to explore which strategies tend do well in conflict over territory. The results are consistent and striking. Behaving aggressively over territory—playing "hawk"—is the best strategy wherever the prize at stake exceeds the costs of conflict. Hawk is an "evolutionary stable strategy"—it cannot be trumped by any other. More remarkably, however, even when the costs of conflict exceed the prize, hawk still emerges as the dominant strategy under certain conditions (such as the presence of transfer costs or combat advantages for territory incumbents). Evolutionary game theory thus suggests that territorial aggression is a strategy that one should expect to have evolved even if, or rather precisely because, fighting is costly.

Evolutionary logic suggests that territorial aggression can be an effective long-term strategy, even when it incurs short-term costs, but only if the level of aggression is correctly calibrated to the prevailing environment. The problem with evolved traits (as with food preferences or addictive behaviors) is that they tend to be calibrated to cost-benefit ratios that prevailed in humans’ evolutionary past, not those of the present. Beneficial traits can therefore become detrimental in the modern environment. If human territoriality is influenced—even partially—by evolved behavioral mechanisms, then territorial aggression may today be triggered to some extent irrespective of the value of the land, the costs of conflict, or the probability of victory.

While hawkish strategies are likely to predominate, especially among territorial incumbents, evolutionary game theory also outlines conditions under which such strategies will be more or less common. Three important conditions preserve territorial equilibrium (e.g., where ownership is not challenged and conflict is avoided): (1) combatants can cause great harm; (2) the costs of finding alternative territory are high; and (3) the benefits at stake are not too valuable. The so-called territorial integrity norm after World War II reflects a change in these conditions. The world before 1939 had the ingredients for territorial conflict, at least for the great powers: offensive advantages, unclaimed territory, and valuable resources to be seized. After 1945 the world was characterized by the opposite conditions: defensive advantages (especially given the presence of nuclear weapons); the partitioning of the globe into self-determined territories; and resources that could no longer be easily seized, held, or exploited. Territorial conquest may have paid in the past, but it is increasingly expensive today. Defenders can ultimately benefit from adopting or maintaining the hawk strategy even if they incur significant costs in the process, as the Vietcong and Taliban can attest.

NEW INSIGHTS FOR CONFLICT RESOLUTION

Although an evolutionary perspective suggests that humans have a low threshold for territorial aggression, it is not a fixed response. Territorial behavior varies, and in predictable ways. Like other biological traits, territorial behavior is partially contingent on circumstances, taking advantage of strategic opportunities and avoiding dangers. These changes in circumstances, however, may be perceived rather than real—behavior will change either way. This means that shaping perceptions can be the key to conflict resolution in territorial disputes.

First, perceptions can directly upset the conditions for territorial equilibrium. For example, aggression will increase if actors underestimate the costs of conflict, feel cornered or see alternatives as worse, or see territory as having exclusive ethnic, cultural, or religious precedence. All such perceptions can, in principle, be shaped and altered to help prevent or resolve conflict.

Second, if both sides perceive themselves to be the territorial incumbent—a common phenomenon among historical enemies—the problem looms large because each side may expect to win and expect the other side to back down, despite asymmetries in size and strength. This has been strikingly demonstrated by experiments with animals: when two animals are tricked into believing a particular territory belongs to them, they may fight to the death where normally one would withdraw before sustaining significant injury. Claims to land by more than one group are likely to lead to bloody and prolonged conflict, especially if both perceive it as homeland, or as sacred. In such settings, the hawk-dove logic (a system that in equilibrium reduces the incidence of fighting) breaks down and conflict can escalate despite rising costs, declining benefits, and likely defeat. This "perfect storm" of mutually perceived incumbency and hawkish strategies helps to explain why rivalries over such territories as the West Bank and Northern Ireland have been so enduring and hard to resolve. There are, however, grounds for hope. Given that perceptions and misperceptions can be the cause of incompatible claims, changing perceptions—as well as or instead of facts on the ground—offers a genuine route to conflict resolution.

CONCLUSION

In the future, territorial conflict is likely to become more important, as populations grow and resources decline, and as territorial disputes expand into new domains, such as the polar regions, outer space and near-Earth orbits, radio frequency bands, the internet, and the commercial control of land. To avoid war and to enable other positive effects to follow, resolving conflicts is critical. Should territorial issues be resolved, studies have found that demilitarization and democratization are more likely to ensue. States will have a better chance of achieving these goals if they step back and recognize the broader patterns of territoriality in nature, of which humans are just one particularly deadly example.

RELATED RESOURCES

Gintis, Herb. "The Evolution of Private Property," Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Vol. 64, No. 1 (September 2007), pp. 1–16.

Pearce, Fred. The Landgrabbers: The New Fight over Who Owns the Earth (Boston: Beacon, 2012).

Smith, John Maynard. Evolution and the Theory of Games (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982).

Toft, Monica Duffy. The Geography of Ethnic Violence (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2003).

Vasquez, John A. and Marie T. Henehan. Territory, War, and Peace (New York: Routledge, 2010).

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Dominic Johnson is Alistair Buchan Professor of International Relations at Oxford University and Fellow of St. Antony’s College.

Monica Duffy Toft is Professor of Government and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University and Fellow of Brasenose College.

http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/24074/grounds_for_hope.html

2014 Moscow conference on international security [III]

Moscow european security conference
Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation
May 2014

International conference “Military and Political Aspects of European Security” is held by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation on May 23-24.

Problems of European security are being actively discussed for decades. It is possible to state that significant progress in this sphere has been achieved. Effective instruments to ensure security in Europe have been established. Vienna Document 2011 and the Open Skies Treaty are among them. Bilateral military and technical military cooperation between countries is developing. Significant step has been made towards establishing an atmosphere of openness and predictability and made it possible to develop new principles of interstate relations.

Pressing ahead with new ideas in the sphere of European security could enhance the process of increasing effectiveness of joint struggle against modern challenges and threats. All the necessary conditions exist: nonexistence of principle ideological differences, gradual tangle of economic interests, cultural, scientific and business relations between countries are strengthening.

Nevertheless, there are factors, which detain further movement toward implementing the principle of indivisibility of security for all European countries. These factors are: differences in approaches to developing European security architecture, lack of atmosphere of confidence.

The objective of the conference is open discussion of existing problems and generation of proposals how to search mutually acceptable decisions on ensuring equal security in Europe. Additional arguments, which may deliver additional impulse to discussions, may be found in the course of military and technical military expertise of those issues.

Heads of Defense Agencies of European countries, international organizations such as NATO, EU, CSTO, OSCE as well as competent representatives of Russian and European expert and academic society have been invited to attend the conference.

Moscow Security Conference Highlights Russian Fears of Colored Revolutions
Richard Weitz
Eurasia Daily Monitor
Volume: 11 Issue: 102 – June 2, 2014

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) hosted its third annual International Security Conference in Moscow on May 23–24. This year’s agenda was more diverse than the previous two conferences, which focused on ballistic missile defense in Europe and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) enlargement at Russia’s expense. This year’s conference had special sessions devoted to Afghanistan and the Middle East. Nonetheless, NATO was again the villain: the Russian national security elite railed against what they perceived to be the Alliance’s deliberate campaign to play geopolitical games and overthrow governments in order to secure Western political and economic gains at the expense of Russia and other non-Western governments.

More than 300 public officials and private national security experts from over 40 countries attended the conference (MoD press service, May 23). Although NATO governments boycotted this year’s session, the chief architect of the conference, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, said that Moscow decided to proceed as planned with the event due to the perilous global security situation (MoD, May 20). In his message to the attendees, President Vladimir Putin, who was at a concurrent economic forum in St. Petersburg, lamented that, “The process of developing a new multipolar international system is proceeding with difficulty and [amid] an increase in global instability,” including in the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan (RT, May 23).

As in the past, Russia’s national security elite used the conference to present their interpretation of what ails the world as well as opportunities to meet with their foreign counterparts. For example, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu invited his Iranian counterpart Hossein Dehghan to the conference and held private talks with him, in what Dehghan said “would send a “clear message to the Americans” (Interfax, May 23). Shoigu accepted Dehghan’s invitation to visit Iran, adding that, “Our meeting [in Moscow] creates conditions for developing mutual relations between the defense ministries” (ITAR-TASS, May 23).

Ukraine was not formally on the conference agenda, but it figured highly in the Russian speeches and in their news conferences (Interfax, May 6). Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov traced the crisis back to the West’s refusal to accept Russia as an equal security partner and its policy of creating dividing lines in Europe by forcing former Soviet bloc countries to choose between Russia and the West in order to limit Moscow’s influence. He called for an end to such “zero-sum games” and for the West to abandon its “xenophobic, neo-Nazi moods” and “dangerous superiority complex” (Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, May 23). The chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Army-General Valery Gerasimov, accused the West of employing militants from extremist organizations to overthrow Ukraine’s government in February and then utilizing them to suppress popular protests. He termed NATO’s military buildup around Ukraine a threat to Russia, telling listeners that “we cannot ignore these events. We have to take measures in response” (Interfax, May 23).

More unusual was the extent to which the Russian speakers drew parallels between events in Ukraine and those in the Middle East and North Africa. Lavrov accused the West of “multiplying trouble spots on the world map” by attempting to impose its political system and values on other states through externally driven “colored revolutions,” heedless of these countries’ “traditions and national peculiarities.” Lavrov declared Russia’s “preference for evolutionary, non-violent transformation based on a dialogue aimed at attaining nation-wide consent for any change” (Russian Foreign Ministry, May 23).

Gerasimov accused NATO governments of using various fake excuses—humanitarian considerations in the Balkans and Libya, terrorism in Afghanistan, and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation in Iraq and Syria—to intervene in foreign countries. Gerasimov attacked what he saw as NATO’s arrogating to itself the right to act in the name of international law and human rights despite its killing many innocent civilians, inflicting massive economic damage, and generating considerable international instability. Gerasimov believed that the real motive for such interventions was that the United States and its allies cannot stomach the formation of new centers of power” and will seek to weaken potential rivals through a combination of information wars, various sanctions, proxy criminal structures and extremist groups, and the use of military force (RT, May 23).

In Syria, Gerasimov claimed that Western governments were buying weapons, hiring foreign mercenaries, and using private security companies to force a change in the regime in Damascus. Gerasimov argued that the similar policy of regime change in Libya had resulted in a security vacuum in which illegal military formations engaged in constant internecine warfare and facilitated the spread of crime, weapons and terrorism to other regions. Explaining Moscow’s veto of a recent Western-backed United Nations resolution on Syria, Lavrov said that “attempts to use the humanitarian crisis or other aspects of this conflict to justify an external interference by force are counterproductive.” He called for a political compromise between the opposition and President Bashar al-Assad’s government based on the Geneva negotiations, which built on “the positive experience of local cease-fires like the one when Homs was freed from militants” (MoD, May 23)

Shoigu said that the color revolutions were “becoming a significant factor in the destabilization of the situation in many regions of the world,” but he claimed that the West was promoting them as a form of low-intensity combat to acquire the natural resources of countries suffering socioeconomic problems. Shoigu even extended his analysis well beyond the conference’s geographic scope to include Venezuela, where he identified purported foreign-backed opposition groups seeking to overthrow the country’s legitimate government (MoD, May 23).

Russia’s national security leaders were equally alarmed by the situation in Afghanistan, where the West was faulted for different reasons—spending a dozen years and almost a trillion dollars in a post-war reconstruction effort that Russian analysts believe will leave the country less secure than at the time of the US military intervention. The Russian speakers at the panel devoted to Afghanistan doubted that NATO would withdraw all its troops any time soon or prove willing to cooperate regionally with the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Shoigu said that Russia would nonetheless work on its own with its CSTO allies in Central Asia to counter the growing Afghan narco-terrorism threat to the region (MoD, May 23).

Amid intense Western pressure on Russia for its aggressive actions in the post-Soviet space, Moscow will continue to make use of such forums as the Moscow International Security Conference to lash out against what it sees as the West’s hypocritical and threatening moves. But for as long as tensions remain high, Russia is unlikely to find many countries other than the likes of Iran that will openly side with it on these issues.

 

2014 Moscow conference on international security [II]

Moscow Conference Identifies ‘Color Revolutions’ as War
by Tony Papert
Executive Intelligence Review | June 13, 2014

June 7—The Russian and Belarusian military speakers at the May 23 Third Moscow Conference on International Security, spelled out in increasing detail how what they called "color revolutions," foreign-controlled attempts to overthrow governments under the initial cover of democracy promotion, are actually nothing but a new form of aggressive war. This yearly conference has been a venue for significant Russian policy statements, such as in 2012, when Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov made a detailed analysis of how NATO’s BMD plans threaten to strip Russia of its defenses.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu opened this year’s conference by reading a message from President Vladimir Putin, who was unable to be present, in which he explicitly attacked the "color revolutions." "It’s time to stop playing geopolitical games," read the headline of the Voice of Russia report on the message. They then report the following remarks from the Russian President:

"The process of development of a new polycentric system of international relations is proceeding with difficulty and is accompanied by an increase in global instability. We have not been able to make considerable headway in the formation of a union space of peace, security and stability in Europe and the Atlantic."

"The situation in the Middle East and Northern Africa remains tense, and serious risks are associated with the situation in Afghanistan," the President said. "Obviously, modern challenges and threats make it necessary to stop the archaic logic of geopolitical games with a zero sum game, the attempts to force your own methods and values on other peoples, including by color revolutions."

Indeed, according to the reports available in the West, the major theme of the conference centered on the threat which so-called "color revolutions," like those that occurred in the Philippines, Georgia, Ukraine, and the like, represent to a stable international order, based on national sovereignties. Thanks to the Obama Administration-instigated boycott of Russia, there were few Americans attending the event, but two who did, have posted extensive notes, along with the PowerPoint slides shown. This report on the conference is based on these notes.

A View That Should Not Be Ignored

Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) was so struck by the laser-like focus of the Russian and Belarusian military speakers at the conference that he posted 52 pages of his raw notes, with PowerPoints, to the CSIS site under the title, "Russia and the Color Revolution: A Russian Military View of a World Destabilized by the U.S. and the West (Key Briefs)."

He wrote,

"Key Russian officers and officials presented a view of the U.S. and the West as deliberately destabilizing nations in North Africa, the Middle East, and the rest of the world for their own ends. They describe such actions as having failed, and been a key source of terrorism. Cordesman indicated that they see the West as rejecting partnership with the Russia and as threatening Russia along all of its borders with Europe.

"Senior Russian officials are also using the term ‘Color Revolution’ in ways that are far more critical than in the past. For example, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has accused the United States and the European Union of an attempt to stage yet another color revolution in Ukraine, and said during the Conference that, ‘Attempts to impose homemade recipes for internal changes on other nations, without taking into account their own traditions and national characteristics, to engage in the export of democracy, have a destructive impact on international relations and result in an increase of the number of hot spots on the world map.’

"What is critical is that the U.S. and Europe listen to what Russian military leaders and strategists are saying. These are not Russian views the U.S. and Europe can afford to ignore" (emphasis in original).

Defense Minister Shoigu

In his keynote address, Defense Minister Shoigu addressed the negative impact of color revolutions on international stability. The following summary was provided by Dmitry Gorenburg, a Russian military analyst at the CNA Corporation, a non-profit research organization that runs the Center for Naval Analyses and the Institute for Public Research.

Shoigu said that color revolutions were a new form of warfare invented by Western governments seeking to remove national governments in favor of ones that are controlled by the West, in order to force foreign values on a range of nations. He made the argument that the same scheme has been used in a wide range of cases, with the initial goal of changing the government through supposedly popular protests, shifting into efforts at destabilizing and fomenting internal conflict if the protesters are not successful. This scheme was used in Serbia, Libya, and Syria—all cases where political interference by the West transitioned into military action. Now the same scheme is being followed in Ukraine, where the situation in recent weeks has become a virtual civil war, and in Venezuela, where the so-called democratic opposition is actually organized by the United States.

Shoigu pointed out that the consequences of color revolutions are very different from the protest organizations’ initial stated goals. The main result has been instability. The Arab Spring, for example, has destabilized the Middle East and North Africa. Now, a whole range of African states are near collapse because of the effects of events in Libya. Afghanistan is increasingly unstable, which has forced Russia to increase its military presence in Central Asia in order to contain threats coming from the south.

Others addressing this theme in detail included General Gerasimov, Belarusian Defense Minister Yuri Zhadobin, Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha, and Gen. Vladimir Zarudnitsky, head of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff, who spoke on a panel on the Mideast and North Africa.

Chief of Staff Gerasimov

Gerasimov reiterated the idea that the United States has developed a new method of warfare, beginning with using non-military tactics to change opposing governments through color revolutions that utilize the protest potential of the population to engineer peaceful regime-change. The two graphics from his presentation that we reproduce here (Figures 1 and 2), give a good idea of his strategic argument about what the Western policy has done.

Gerasimov emphasized that military force is concealed behind the color revolutions. If the protest potential turns out to be insufficient, military force is then used openly to ensure regime change. Libya was cited as a textbook example. In Syria, the West is using mercenaries and military assistance in an effort to overthrow the government. What began as a purely internal conflict has turned into a battle between religious radicals and the government.

The following raw notes from Cordesman detail the flow of Gerasimov’s argument.

•The breakup of the former Soviet Union has led the U.S. to act as if it were the only superpower, and for its own ends using a mix of force and sanctions using its NATO allies.

•The U.S. military interventions in Iraq in 1991, in Yugoslavia in 1999, in Afghanistan, and then again in Iraq in 2003 used pretexts to allow aggression that violated international norms and law.

•Color revolutions have led to civil wars and threats to civilian populations that only make things worse, and leave major parts of the state under militant control, which become training areas for terrorists.

•Afghanistan has seen more than 10 years of war, and a 30-fold increase in drug production. There has been no concern for the civilian population; drones have killed some 2,500 in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. Create revolutions so as to be able to use military forces.

•Crises in Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Georgia, Ukraine. Tensions in many other areas like Algeria and Mauritania.

•Use transfers of arms, SOF (special operations forces), mercenaries, and foreign fighters.

•Claim to protect civilians and deal with WMD, but use to change regimes and force support of the U.S. and NATO.

•Syria sees influx of foreign troops, U.S. double standards. Use of SOF and weapons supplies, threat of military operations like cruise missiles, and constant use of information warfare.

•The adaptive approach to Color Revolutions allows the U.S. and Europe to fight low cost wars at the expense of local populations.

•Libya is a warning of the costs: terrorism, migration, fragmentation, suffering, spread of MANPADs to Mali, Tunisia, etc. Then [they] left Libyans to themselves without assuming any responsibility for order.

•Russia favors collective action to bring stability and unity.

•Ukraine is another case in point:

•Pressed to change the regime;

•Overturned the legitimate power;

•Suppressed protests;

•Operations by private military groups;

•Use anti-government demonstrations;

•Army used against the people;

•Makes legitimate economic development impossible;

•Increasing use of force;

•Threaten European security;

•NATO build-up in Baltic, Poland, areas near Russia;

•Sanctions end European and Russian cooperation;

•Entire region sees growth in mercenaries, terrorism, extremism, transnational crime;

•All in the guise of a Color Revolution.

Military Threat Integral to Color Revolutions

According to Cordesman’s notes, Belarusian Defense Minister Zhadobin "mentioned Gene Sharp as the originator of the strategy used in these revolutions," thus bringing in the British hand behind the policy, as EIR has documented (see article by Rachel Douglas in this section). Zhadobin also noted that color revolutions are always set up from outside. In the three PowerPoint slides (Figures 3, 4, and 5) we republish from his address, his central point is clear.

But the speaker who delved into the most detail on the color revolution strategy appears to have been General Zarudnitsky, head of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff. This is Gorenburg’s summary of Zarudnitsky’s talk:

"Like the plenary speakers, Zarudnitsky focused on the military aspects of colored revolutions. He argued that while the West considers colored revolutions to be a peaceful way of overthrowing undemocratic regimes, events in the Middle East and North Africa have shown that military force is an integral part of all aspects of colored revolutions. This includes external pressure on the regime in question to prevent the use of force to restore order, the provision of military and economic assistance to rebel forces, and if these measures are not sufficient, the conduct of a military operation to defeat government forces and allow the rebels to take power. Colored revolutions are thus a new technique of aggression pioneered by the United States and geared toward destroying a state from within by dividing its population. The advantage of this technique is that it requires a relatively low expenditure of resources to achieve its goals.

"Zarudnitsky argues that since this type of warfare is based on the network principle, it has no front line. It is used primarily in urban areas, frequently using civilians as shields. Commonly accepted rules of warfare are ignored, since official state-run armed forces are not used. Instead, criminal and terrorist forces and private military companies are allowed to act with impunity. Counter-guerrilla warfare tactics are required to defeat this type of warfare.

"The key question for military planners is which state will be targeted next. Weak states with poor economies are generally the most vulnerable to these tactics, but the main factor in determining targets is the geopolitical interest of the provoking state. For this reason, such revolutions are organized primarily in countries with significant natural resources or ones that have an important strategic position and conduct an independent foreign policy. The destabilization of such countries allows for a major shift in the balance of power in a particular region (in the case of the Arab Spring—the Middle East and North Africa)."

Cordesman’s more inclusive account adds the following points from Zarudnitsky:

The Color Revolution is:

•Delegitimizing war

•Urban areas are targets

•Use of human shields

•Goes beyond boundaries of humanitarian behavior and international law

•Criminalizing war

•Seizes and uses religious values as weapons

•Use private military units, SOF disguised as rebels: forces like Blackwater

•The most disgusting medieval methods of violence.

Coming to a Head

The Russian leadership’s understanding that the irregular warfare, or color revolutions, being instigated in the nations around it, are an undeclared war against it, has been evident at least as far back as 2011, when, in the aftermath of the Libyan war, the subversive apparatus of several hundred NGOs in Russia, championed by U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul, moved, after the Dec. 4, 2011 parliamentary election, to try to prevent Prime Minister Putin from being elected President in May 2012.

On Dec. 8, 2011, Putin spoke to his National People’s Front, declaring that the U.S.A. had invested "hundreds of millions of dollars" to shape the Russian electoral process. "We must develop forms of protecting our sovereignty, protecting ourselves from outside interference," he said. Subsequently, Russia passed laws requiring rigorous registration of NGOs operating in Russia as agents of the foreign organizations supporting them. The U.S. has had exactly the same law since 1938, according to Putin.

http://www.larouchepub.com/other/2014/4124moscow_conf_colors.html

 

Moscow Conference on International Security 2014, part 1: The plenary speeches
Dmitry Gorenburg
Russian Military Reform | May 29, 2014

Last week, I attended the Russian MOD’s Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS). Over the next few days, I plan to share my impressions of the event. First up, the keynote speeches. The lineup of presenters at the plenary session could not have been more prominent. The key Russian speakers included Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov. The other speakers included Belarusian Defense Minister Yuri Zhadobin, Pakistan Defense Minister Asif Khawaja, Iranian Defense Minister Hossien Dehghan, CSTO Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha, the political commissioner of China’s Lanzhou Military District General Li Changcai, Egyptian Deputy Defense Minister Mohamed Said Elassar, and Indian Deputy Defense Minister Anuj Kumar Bishnoi. So quite an all-star cast. The links above go to videos of the speeches  (with audio in Russian) whenever they are available. Text summaries of the Shoigu and Gerasimov speeches have been posted online in Russian.

For those who don’t understand Russian, here are some highlights. I didn’t take verbatim notes, so consider these the key points — what seemed to me to be most significant from what was said.

Sergei Shoigu opened the conference. After some preliminary remarks, he launched directly into what turned out to be the main theme — the negative impact of colored revolutions on international stability. He made the claim that popular protests of this type were a new form of warfare invented by Western governments seeking to remove national governments in favor of ones that are controlled by the West in order to force foreign values on a range of nations around the world. He made the argument that the same scheme has been used in a wide range of cases, with the initial goal of changing the government through supposedly popular protests shifting into efforts at destabilizing and fomenting internal conflict if the protesters are not successful. This scheme was used in Serbia, Libya, and Syria — all cases where political interference by the West transitioned into military action. Now the same scheme is being followed in Ukraine, where the situation in recent weeks has become a virtual civil war, and in Venezuela, where the so-called democratic opposition is actually organized by the United States.

Shoigu pointed out that the consequences of colored revolutions are very different from the protest organizations’ initial states goals. The main result around the world has been instability. The Arab Spring, for example, has destabilized the Middle East and North Africa. Now, a whole range of African states are near collapse because of the effects of events in Libya. Afghanistan is also increasingly unstable, which has forced Russia to increase its military presence in Central Asia in order to contain threats coming from the south.

The second speech was by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. He noted that Western states have been focused for years on containing Russia. They wanted to force CIS states to choose between East and West. This is what led to the crisis in Ukraine. Lavrov called for an end to zero-sum games and said that a Euro-Atlantic security regime was needed, with Russia and the U.S. involved on equal terms rather than having each side looking for geopolitical gains. What is needed is a new poly-centric international system.

He also noted that the same forces that the West are assisting in one country (Libya, for example) subsequently start being labeled as terrorists when they move on to a neighboring state (Mali). Lavrov then restated the main theme — “the export of democracy without taking local values into account leads to instability.”

Valery Gerasimov also focused on the role of the U.S. in international relations. He argued that the U.S. can’t deal with more equal relations among states, so it is using new tactics to assure its supremacy. These include sanctions and assistance for protesters, all backed up with the potential of using military force. He said that the U.S. and NATO are responsible for initiating the majority of conflicts in the world, including those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia. The only difference among these cases is the specific pretext for the military operation with which the United States seeks to eliminate opposing governments. The ostenisble goal of peace and stability is not achieved. Instead, the result is an increase in instability and many casualties.

Gerasimov then reiterated the idea that the United States has developed a new method of warfare, beginning with using non-military tactics to change opposing governments through colored revolutions that utilize the protest potential of the population to engineer peaceful regime change. But military force is concealed behind this effort. If the protest potential turns out to be insufficient, military force is then used openly to ensure regime change. Libya was cited as a textbook example. In Syria, the West is using mercenaries and military assistance in an effort to overthrow the government. What began as a purely internal conflict has turned into a battle between religious radicals and the government.

In Libya, the post-conflict period has been characterized by a crisis of power, with tribal control of parts of the country, widespread terrorism, large numbers of refugees, and the spread of arms to neighboring states that have also been destabilized as a result. Western countries have failed to take responsibility for post-conflict security in Libya. The same thing would happen in Syria if the government was overthrown. The Ukraine crisis is now turning into a civil war, with paramilitary groups being used against the peaceful population in eastern Ukraine. Mercenaries have arrived and it is not clear what will happen next, though military force is increasing in importance.

NATO is turning more anti-Russian, organizing a military build-up on its eastern borders. This will necessitate a Russian response. What is needed is more cooperation between Russia and NATO, but this is frozen. Again, colored revolutions are causing instability throughout the world.

Next up was Yuri Zhodobin, the Belarusian Minister of Defense. He began, not surprisingly, by focusing on how colored revolutions spread conflict to neighboring states. He even mentioned Gene Sharp as the originator of the strategy used in these revolutions, noting that colored revolutions are always set up from outside. The model is to train local activists for peaceful action. If that’s not effective, then paramilitary organizations are brought in and trained. He then went on to a discussion of how to counter colored revolutions, focusing on the importance of international organizations and joint defense and security structures.

Zhodobin highlighted the danger of arms falling into the wrong hands. He also mentioned that the Baltic States are not subject to any conventional arms control regime and could be used to concentrate and prepare forces that could then be used in third countries. He also highlighted the danger posed by a new NATO military buildup in Eastern Europe, with five NATO military exercises going on now in the region. He noted the danger of a new Cold War and mentioned the need to develop rather than destroy existing East-West military contacts.

Nikolai Bordyuzha made a few interesting arguments:

  • The information war is always lost by those who speak the truth.
  • The US has to block Russia from Europe in order to maintain control of the European economy.
  • Ukrainian scenario follows directly from US policy on Yugoslavia.

And, to conclude, a summary of Li Changcai‘s key points:

  • Russia and China are friends.
  • China is being provoked regarding the ownership of several island groups.
  • The Ukrainian crisis has a complex history and should be solved through dialogue on the basis of the Geneva agreements.
  • Terrorism and extremism are the greatest threat in Asia.
  • China will not allow the violation of Chinese sovereignty and interests.
  • China supports further EU integration.
  • Chinese economic development should be seen as an opportunity for the world.

http://russiamil.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/moscow-conference-on-international-security-2014-part-1-the-plenary-speeches/

 

Moscow Conference on International Security 2014, part 2: The panels
Dmitry Gorenburg
Russian Military Reform | June 2, 2014

In addition to the plenary panel, the MCIS conference included two panel discussions, one on the Middle East and North Africa and the second on Afghanistan.

The panel entitled “Finding Ways of Stabilization in the Middle East and North Africa” was moderated by Vitaly Naumkin of the Institute of Oriental Studies. Participants included Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, General Vladimir Zarudnitsky — the head of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, Deputy Syrian General Staff Chief Mahmoud Abdul Wahab Shawa. Deputy Director of the Israeli Institute for National Security Udi Dekel, Director of the Iranian Institute for Middle East Strategic Studies Kayhan Barzegar, Chief of Military Intelligence and Counterintelligence of the Lebanese Army Fadel Edmond, and CIS Executive Secretary Sergey Burutin.

Since I am not a MENA specialist, I was primarily interested in how the region influenced Russian foreign policy. The only speech directly relevant to this topic was by Vladimir Zarudnitsky. The Russian language text of his remarks is also available. Like the plenary speakers, Zarudnitsky focused on the military aspects of colored revolutions. He argued that while the West considers colored revolutions to be a peaceful way of overthrowing undemocratic regimes, events in the Middle East and North Africa have shown that military force is an integral part of all aspects of colored revolutions. This includes external pressure on the regime in question to prevent the use of force to restore order, the provision of military and economic assistance to rebel forces, and if these measures are not sufficient, the conduct of a military operation to defeat government forces and allow the rebels to take power. Colored revolutions are thus a new technique of aggression pioneered by the United States and geared toward destroying a state from within by dividing its population. The advantage of this technique is that it requires a relatively low expenditure of resources to achieve its goals.

Zarudnitsky argues that since this type of warfare is based on the network principle, it has no front line. It is used primarily in urban areas, frequently using civilians as shields. Commonly accepted rules of warfare are ignored, since official state-run armed forces are not used. Instead, criminal and terrorist forces and private military companies are allowed to act with impunity. Counter-guerrilla warfare tactics are required to defeat this type of warfare.

The key question for military planners is which state will be targeted next. Weak states with poor economies are generally the most vulnerable to these tactics, but the main factor in determining targets is the geopolitical interest of the provoking state. For this reason, such revolutions are organized primarily in countries with significant natural resources or ones that have an important strategic position and conduct an independent foreign policy. The destabilization of such countries allows for a major shift in the balance of power in a particular region (in the case of the Arab Spring — the Middle East and North Africa).

—–

The final panel covered the situation in Afghanistan and its impact on regional security. It was moderated by Deputy Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov. Speakers included GRU Chief Igor Sergun, Special Representative of the Russian President for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov, First Deputy Kyrgyz Defense Minister Zamir Suerkylov, Deputy SCO Secretary General Keneshbek Dushbaev, President of Islamabad Policy Research Institute Sohail Amin, and Indian Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis Senior Fellow Phunchok Stobdan.

Zamir Kabulov described the security situation in Afghanistan, noting that the Taliban is active in all parts of the country and has parallel organs of power. Most Afghans are opposed to the Taliban but fear and insecurity make it difficult for people to express their opposition. He also mentioned that there are more than one kind of Taliban fighters, including nationalists fighting against foreign occupation, local religious activists, and global jihadis of the younger generation.

Igor Sergun‘s speech was made available on the conference website. He noted that the Taliban views the withdrawal of ISAF forces as a success. They expect victory, so see no reason to bother with negotiations at this point. He discussed the three most likely scenarios for future developments in Afghanistan, including some fairly ridiculously exact percentage likelihoods for each scenario:

  1. Balance of political forces within the country remains relatively unchanged, supported by a limited Western presence. Afghanistan remains a source of terrorist, extremist, and drug threats for Central Asia. Likelihood 39 percent.
  2. Taliban seizes power in the absence of a foreign presence. Islamists could begin infiltrating Central Asian states. Likelihood 27 percent.
  3. Afghanistan disintegrates and is divided into ethnic enclaves. This scenario leads to an increase in battle for influence by local and regional powers. Likelihood 31 percent.

In the second part of this speech, Sergun discussed the logistics of the ongoing withdrawal of ISAF forces from Afghanistan. Given the amount of equipment present in the region, his analysis showed that Western states would not be able to withdraw their equipment in the allotted time frame. He argued that while the 40,000 personnel could be withdrawn by the end of 2014,  it would be impossible to complete the withdrawal of 40,000 vehicles and 300 helicopters any earlier than 2017. As a result, he claimed that Washington will soon need to start a propaganda campaign to convince the international community that U.S. presence in the region will need to be extended at least through 2024 in order to ensure regional stability. However, this will not change the threat posed by the Taliban to Central Asian states.

(A small editorial comment on this score. While I claim no expertise in logistics and have no idea whether the GRU analysis is valid or not, it does seem clear that it ignores the fact that a large part of US equipment in Afghanistan is being scrapped on site, rather than removed. That seems likely to change the calculations of how much equipment can be removed by what date.)

And, to conclude, a few key points from other speakers and from the Q&A.

Sokhail Amin‘s key points

  • The drawdown in Afghanistan is well-planned and being done gradually
  • If it is done right, Afghanistan will be stable for the future
  • The process of reconciliation in the country must be led by Afghans

Phunchok Stobdan‘s key points

  • It would be best to have power-sharing between the leading candidates for president of Afghanistan
  • The West is preparing for future activity in Central Asia
  • Sectarian conflict is spreading from the Middle East to Afghanistan, in part through the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia
  • There are training camps in Central Asia, Chechnya, and Pakistan’s FATA region that have been negatively affecting Afghanistan’s security

Key points from Q&A

  • A journalist asked about the fate of the joint NATO/Russia helicopter project for Afghanistan’s military. The cancellation of this project was described as a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. (Actually, the project was not canceled, the U.S. just chose to not pick up the option on additional orders — DPG) Stopping other NATO/Russia cooperation, such as counter-narcotics work and training in demining, is also not helpful.
  • It seems that NATO is removing itself from responsibility for Afghanistan, handing it over to the international community.
  • Alexei Arbatov noted that the U.S. operation in Afghanistan was the greatest blow against the success of the operation to stabilize Afghanistan. It gave comfort the the Taliban. Now, the Taliban is trying to maximize civilian casualties to increase discontent and fear. They have lots of financing and can stay in the field indefinitely. He argued that if they win in Afghanistan, the Taliban will definitely try to destabilize Central Asia.
  • Yevegeny Kozhokhin argued the the Taliban threat to Central Asia is overstated. When the Taliban previously controlled Afghanistan, they showed no intention to attack Central Asia and instead sought talks with Russia.

http://russiamil.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/moscow-conference-on-international-security-2014-part-2-the-panels/

2014 Moscow conference on international security [I]

Color revolutions threaten global stability – Russian Defense Minister
Voice of Russia | 23 May 2014

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said there is a threat of the spread of "color" revolutions in the world, that are increasingly resembling forms of warfare. "The phenomenon of ‘color revolutions’ is becoming a significant factor in the destabilization of the situation in many regions of the world. Foreign values are being forced on peoples under the guise of democracy," Shoigu told at conference on international security held in Moscow on Friday.

"The socioeconomic problems of some countries are used for replacing nationally oriented governments with regimes controlled from abroad," Shoigu said.

"They, for their part, provide their patrons with unimpeded access to these countries’ resources," Shoigu said.

"These ‘color’ revolutions are increasingly looking like combat and are developed according to the military arts," the minister said.

It’s time to stop playing geopolitical games – Russian President

Russian President Vladimir Putin said global instability is on the rise and it is now time to stop forcing someone’s methods and values on countries.

"The process of development of a new polycentric system of international relations is proceeding with difficulty and is accompanied by an increase in global instability. We have not been able to make considerable headway in the formation of a union space of peace, security and stability in Europe and the Atlantic," Putin said in his address to participants in a security conference, which was read at the opening ceremony by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

"The situation in the Middle East and Northern Africa remains tense, and serious risks are associated with the situation in Afghanistan," the president said.

"Obviously, modern challenges and threats make it necessary to stop the archaic logic of geopolitical games with a zero result, the attempts to force your own methods and values on other peoples, including by color revolutions," the address says.

The 3rd conference on international security is to be held in Moscow on Friday. The forum is to be attended by Defense ministers or Deputy Ministers from the member-countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as well as a number of Middle Eastern, European, and Asian countries.

Participation of the Defense ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Iran, Pakistan, Serbia, and Deputy Ministers, among them the Chiefs of the General Staff of Syria and Iraq, has been confirmed. In all, more than 300 representatives from 40 countries are to take part in the conference. NATO and European Union countries have declined to participate.

The forum is to begin with a plenary meeting on the themes of global security and regional stability. The following persons will address those present: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov, Chief of Russia’s General Staff Valery Gerasimov, as well as Defense ministers of other states and the chiefs of international organizations — CSTO Director-General Nikolai Bordyuzha, Lieutenant-General Yuri Zhadobin, Belarusian Minister of Defense, Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan, Iran’s Defense Minister, and others.

There will be two panel discussions on the themes of "The Search for Ways to Stabilize the Situation in the Middle East and North Africa" and "Afghanistan and Regional Security."

Participants in the panel meetings are to discuss, in particular, the lessons of the "Arab spring", the impact of the situation in Afghanistan on neighboring states, possible ways for interaction between the CSTO and NATO, and other themes.

The forum is to take place in the capital’s Ukraine Hotel. However, the theme of the crisis in Ukraine, which was originally planned for discussion at the conference, has been struck off the forum’s agenda.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, and Deputy Minister of Defense Anatoly Antonov are to hold a number of meetings on the sidelines of the conference. Thus, Shoigu, in particular, is to hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Iran, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Serbia, and Armenia

About 200 Russian and foreign journalists will cover the conference. More than 350 experts expressed desire to take part in the conference. The Russia-24 and Zvezda (star) television channels and the official website of the Russian Defense Ministry will broadcast conference proceedings live.

On May 24, participants in the conference will visit the firing range of the Taman motorized rifle division at Alabino where international tank biathlon competitions are due to take place in August.

The first Moscow conference on international security was held in 2012 and dealt with antimissile defense in Europe. Participants in the 2nd conference in 2013 discussed matters aimed at ensuring European security.

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_05_23/Colored-revolutions-threaten-global-stability-Russian-Defense-Minister-7815/

 

Kremlin Paranoia Cooks Up New Threats
By Dmitry Gorenburg
The Moscow Times | Jun. 08 2014

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The May 23 to 24 Moscow Conference on International Security, sponsored by Russia’s Defense Ministry, focused not on conflict zones or technology advances, but on the role of popular protest — specifically "color revolutions," in international security.

The speakers, among them top Russian military and diplomatic officials such as Sergei Shoigu and Sergei Lavrov, argued that color revolutions are a new form of warfare invented by Western governments seeking to remove independently minded national governments in favor of ones that are controlled by the West. They argued that this was part of a global strategy to force foreign values on a range of nations around the world that refuse to accept U.S. hegemony, and that Russia was a particular target of this strategy.

While the West considers color revolutions to be peaceful expressions of popular will opposing repressive authoritarian regimes, Russian officials argued that military force is an integral part of all aspects of color revolutions.

According to them, Western governments first attempt to topple opposing governments with peaceful protests. But military force is is still an option.

If the protests turn out to be insufficient, military force is then used openly to ensure regime change. This includes the use of external pressure on the regime in question in order to prevent the use of force to restore order, followed by the provision of military and economic assistance to rebel forces.

If these measures are not sufficient, Western states organize a military operation to defeat government forces and allow the rebels to take power. Russian officials at the MCIS conference described color revolutions as a new technique of aggression pioneered by the U.S. and geared toward destroying a state from within by dividing its population. The advantage of this technique, compared to military intervention, is that it requires a relatively low expenditure of resources to achieve its goals.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu argued that this scheme has been used in a wide range of cases, including Serbia, Libya, and Syria — all cases where political interference by the West transitioned into military action. Now the same scheme is being followed in Ukraine, where anti-regime protests have over several months been transformed into a civil war, and in Venezuela, where the so-called democratic opposition is supposedly organized by the United States.

This perspective appears to be at the core of a new national security strategy that Russia is developing. Although Western readers may find it hard to swallow the lumping together of uprisings as disparate as those in Serbia in 2000, Syria in 2011, and Venezuela in 2014, from the Russian point of view they all share the common thread of occurring in countries that had governments that were opposed to the U.S.

Although uprisings in countries whose governments were closely allied to the U.S., such as Kyrgyzstan in 2010 and Egypt and Bahrain in 2011 are harder to explain, such inconsistencies appear to not trouble the Russian government.

Listening to the speeches at the conference, I was left with one big question: Do the Russian officials actually believe this? Or is it just propaganda meant to convince the Russian population and leaders of other countries?

If it is merely propaganda, then perhaps Russian leaders are acting from a realist playbook. In that case, the West just needs to convince them that it is against their interests to try to create a bipolar world where countries are either with the West or against it.

But if the former is true, then the opposition to the U.S. and the West is about mindset and has nothing to do with interests. If this is true, it is not worth spending time to try to convince the current leadership to pursue more cooperative policies. If they truly believe that the U.S. is seeking to force them out of power and is simply waiting for an opportune moment to strike, then Russian policies will remain committed to ensuring that the U.S. does not get such an opportunity.

In this environment, Russia’s current policy in Ukraine is not just about geopolitical calculations regarding Ukraine’s economic ties with the EU versus the Eurasian Union, or even potential Ukrainian NATO membership. Instead, a main goal may be to strengthen President Vladimir Putin’s regime domestically by increasing patriotic attitudes among the Russian population.

Patriotism would thus be the means by which the Russian government inoculates the population against anti-regime or pro-Western attitudes. This goal would explain the obsessive focus on building an anti-Ukrainian and anti-U.S. domestic media narrative from an early stage in the Ukraine conflict.

One thing that may strike observers is that the supposed U.S. strategy laid out by Russian officials very closely parallels Russia’s actions in Ukraine in recent weeks. While Russian officials certainly did not organize the Maidan protests, NATO has accused Russia of backing pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The Kremlin has repeatedly used the threat of force to try to influence the actions of the new Ukrainian government, both by making statements in which they reserve the right to intervene in the conflict and by staging several military exercises on the Ukrainian border.

Is this a case of Russian officials giving the U.S. what they think is a taste of its own medicine? Perhaps the Kremlin thinks that U.S. policy is aimed at destabilizing opposing regimes because such activities are a standard part of their own policy toolkit.

Dmitry Gorenburg, Ph.D. is a senior research scientist with CNA Corporation’s Strategic Studies division and an associate at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/kremlin-paranoia-cooks-up-new-threats/501717.html

 

Russia and the “Color Revolution”
A Russian Military View of a World Destabilized by the US and the West
Anthony H. Cordesman
Center for Strategic and International Studies | May 28, 2014

The British strategist, Liddell Hart, stressed the need to understand rival views of grand strategy and military developments, or "the other side of the hill.” A range of Russian and Belorussian military and civil experts presented a very different view of global security and the forces behind it at the Russian Ministry of Defense’s third Moscow Conference on International Security on May 23, 2014.

The first session of the Conference presented an overview of the security situation, focusing on what Russian experts called the “Color Revolution.” Russian analysts have used this term since the “Rose Revolution” in Georgia in 2012, in discussing the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine in 2004, and the "Tulip Revolution" that took place in Kyrgyzstan in 2005.

Russian military officers now tied the term “Color Revolution” to the crisis in Ukraine and to what they saw as a new US and European approach to warfare that focuses on creating destabilizing revolutions in other states as a means of serving their security interests at low cost and with minimal casualties. It was seen as posing a potential threat to Russian in the near abroad, to China and Asia states not aligned with the US, and as a means of destabilizing states in the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, and South Asia.

The second session repeated these themes, focusing on the instability in the Middle East, and the final session addressed the war in Afghanistan and South Asia.

Many of the speakers at the meeting from other countries touched on very different themes, but the Russian and Belorussian military speakers provided a consistent and carefully orchestrated picture of the “Color Revolution” – backed by detailed PowerPoint presentations, some of which came from the audience during what would normally have been the question period.

Key Russian officers and officials presented a view of the US and the West as deliberately destabilizing nations in North Africa, the Middle East, and the rest of the world for their own ends. They describe such actions as having failed, and been a key source of terrorism. They see the West as rejecting partnership with the West as a threatening Russia along all of its borders with Europe.

Senior Russian officials are also using the term "Color Revolution” in ways that are far more critical than in the past. For example, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has accused the United States and the European Union of an attempt to stage yet another “color revolution” in Ukraine, and said during the conference that, “Attempts to impose homemade recipes for internal changes on other nations, without taking into account their own traditions and national characteristics, to engage in the ‘export of democracy,’ have a destructive impact on international relations and result in an increase of the number of hot spots on the world map.” (RIA Novosti, May 23, 2014 ‘Color Revolutions’ Cause Apparent Damage to International Stability – Lavrov,http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/color-revolutions-upset-global-stability-russian-foreign-minister/. )

The end result is a radically different reading of modern history, of US and European strategy, their use of force, and US and European goals and actions from any issued in the West and in prior Russian literature.

Western experts can argue the degree to which this represents Russian anger over the West’s reaction to event in the Ukraine, Russian efforts at persuading developing nations and Asia to back Russia in a reassertion of its strategic role in the world, propaganda to cloak the character Russian actions in the Ukraine and near abroad, an effort to justify Russian action in Syria, very real Russian concern over US and European actions that have destabilized key MENA and Central Asian states, and a host of other possible motives and intentions.

What is critical is that the US and Europe listen to what Russian military leaders and strategists are saying. These are not Russian views the US and Europe can afford to ignore.

The Burke Chair has prepared two versions of a briefing that presents the key points raised by Russian speakers in note form. It should be stressed that the summaries in these briefs have to be made using quick personal notes taken during the actual speeches, and are not quotes. They are only a very rough indication of what the speakers said, and lack important nuances.

Most speakers spoke in Russian and translation may have also have used wording the speakers did not fully intend.

These notes are, however, backed by photos of many of the “slides” used in the PowerPoints during the meeting – many of which were kindly provided to me by colleagues. These slides clearly present the views of the speakers in the form they chose.

http://csis.org/publication/russia-and-color-revolution

Download PDF file of Russia and the “Color Revolution” Full Report

Lavrov focuses on Syria, Afghanistan at Int’l Security Conference in Moscow
Voice of Russia | 23 May 2014

The 3rd conference on international security is held in Moscow on Friday. The forum is attended by Defense ministers or Deputy Ministers from the member-countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as well as a number of Middle Eastern, European, and Asian countries. Russian Foreign Affairs Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has shared the Russian Ministry’s stance on the most significant securuty issues that are worrying the international community these days.

Syrian peace process

The search for compromises in the Syrian peace process cannot be based on regime change ultimatums, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. "We stand for the resumption of the Geneva negotiations and the continuation of the inter-Syrian dialogue consistent with the approved agenda, whose first item is the termination of violence and the suppression of terrorism. The discussion of transitional period issues should concentrate on the search for compromises and accord rather than ultimatums demanding a regime change," Lavrov said at the Moscow international security conference on Friday. He said the attempts to use the humanitarian crisis or other aspects of the Syrian crisis as an excuse for foreign military interference were counterproductive. "Importantly, delegations of opposition groups negotiating with the government should be truly representative," Lavrov said.

Afhganistan and its post-US development

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has urged the prospective Afghan president to mind regional stability interests in deciding on the presence of US forces in Afghanistan after 2014. "As to the security cooperation agreement between Afghanistan and the United States, we believe that the new president of Afghanistan will make a decision proceeding from the interests of the Afghan people and regional security considerations," Lavrov said at the Moscow international security conference on Friday. The security agreement lays the legal groundwork for the US military presence in Afghanistan after the international coalition withdrawal in late 2014. Outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai has bluntly refused to sign the deal with the United States.

Reportedly, practically every Afghan presidential candidate supports this agreement. Russia has repeatedly said it has questions about the US plans to keep military bases in Afghanistan after 2014. Afghanistan will hold the second round of presidential elections on June 14 between former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai.

Ukrainian crisis

Russia on Friday accused the West of triggering the Ukrainian crisis by its "megalomania," as fighting continued in Ukraine’s east between federalization supporters and government forces two days before presidential election.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov urged the West to reach a settlement based on mutual interests.

"If we sincerely want to help the Ukrainian people overcome this crisis, it’s necessary to abandon the notorious zero-sum games, stop encouraging xenophobic and neo-Nazi sentiments and get rid of dangerous megalomania," Lavrov said in a speech at a security conference in Moscow organized by the Russian Defense Ministry.

Participation of the Defense ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Iran, Pakistan, Serbia, and Deputy Ministers, among them the Chiefs of the General Staff of Syria and Iraq, has been confirmed. In all, more than 300 representatives from 40 countries are to take part in the conference. NATO and European Union countries have declined to participate.

The forum is to begin with a plenary meeting on the themes of global security and regional stability. The following persons will address those present: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov, Chief of Russia’s General Staff Valery Gerasimov, as well as Defense ministers of other states and the chiefs of international organizations — CSTO Director-General Nikolai Bordyuzha, Lieutenant-General Yuri Zhadobin, Belarusian Minister of Defense, Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan, Iran’s Defense Minister, and others.

There will be two panel discussions on the themes of "The Search for Ways to Stabilize the Situation in the Middle East and North Africa" and "Afghanistan and Regional Security."

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_05_23/Lavrov-focuses-on-Syria-Afghanistan-at-Intl-Security-Conference-in-Moscow-3093/

INF Treaty–4 Aug 14

The Problem With Russia’s Missiles
Why is the United States taking Moscow to task over noncompliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty?
Jeffrey Lewis
Foreign Policy | JULY 29, 2014

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The State Department’s annual "Compliance Report" is about to drop. According to Michael Gordon at the New York Times, the State Department will accuse the Russians of cheating on the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Gordon even has the money sentence:

"The United States has determined that the Russian Federation is in violation of its obligations under the I.N.F. treaty not to possess, produce or flight test a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) with a range capability of 500 kilometers to 5,500 kilometers or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles."

Gordon’s story is part of a formal rollout. Secretary of State John Kerry gave Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a courtesy call on Sunday, and the U.S. Embassy delivered a letter from President Barack Obama to Vladimir Putin.

Let’s get this out of the way first: The decision to accuse Russia in print of violating the 1987 INF Treaty is not about Ukraine. Putin certainly hasn’t done himself any favors in recent months, of course, but American concerns about Russia’s compliance have been building for a long time. Rose Gottemoeller, the U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, began raising the issue of INF compliance with the Russians more than a year ago, in May 2013. After failing to get satisfaction from Moscow, she briefed the NATO Arms Control, Disarmament, and Non-Proliferation Committee on the compliance issues in January 2014. As early as this spring, it was clear that there was a possibility of using State’s annual Compliance Report to make public the concerns that U.S. diplomats had expressed in private. I argued in April that, given the mounting evidence, it was time to let the Russians have it.

And now it is that time of year. The Compliance Report is due every year on April 15, but congressionally mandated reports are always late. August is actually pretty early. Recall that the Bush administration didn’t even bother to submit a compliance report during six of the eight years it was in office.

The decision to focus on the R-500 cruise missile is interesting. Russia is actually testing two different systems that raise compliance questions — the R-500 cruise missile and the RS-26 ballistic missile. The Obama administration, according to Gordon, has decided to make an issue of Russia’s R-500 cruise missile, developed for the Iskander tactical missile system. Although this cruise missile has a stated range of 500 kilometers, Russian officials have been clear that they could easily extend the range beyond the 500 km limit imposed by the INF treaty. According to Gordon’s January 2014 story, Gottemoeller told NATO allies that Russia had tested the R-500 to ranges beyond 500 km. (Gordon doesn’t report what the U.S. intelligence community believes the actual range is in either story.)

The Obama administration appears to have focused on the R-500 for two reasons: It is easier to prove and may be easier to solve. First, of the two issues, the R-500 is apparently the more blatant violation. The RS-26, on the other hand, has been referred to as a "circumvention" of the INF in deference to the ambiguity of its status. (Russia asserts that the RS-26 is an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, to be counted under the New START treaty.) So the Obama administration is probably right to start with the more blatant case of cheating.

Second, the White House may believe that Russia is on the verge of moving from testing the prohibited cruise missile to deploying it. Douglas Barrie and Henry Boyd of the International Institute for Strategic Studies recently noted a Russian article that appears to show an R-500 canister on a deployed Iskander. If Russia is indeed on the verge of deploying large numbers of R-500 cruise missiles, now is the time to start talking about it. It’s much easier to prevent something with arms control than to roll it back. The Obama administration apparently hopes that pressure now will persuade Russia to forego deployment of the new cruise missile. I wouldn’t hold my breath.

But even if the administration is right to start with the R-500, over the long-term the RS-26 might be a bigger threat. A two-stage ballistic missile with multiple nuclear warheads, the RS-26 looks a lot like the SS-20 that prompted the INF discussion in the first place. The R-500 is a serious compliance issue, but it is also probably a conventionally armed missile that may only slightly exceed the range limits set by the INF treaty. The RS-26, on the other hand, is designed to hold Western European capitals at risk of attack with nuclear weapons. While Russia might hint that the RS-26 is intended for China, the reality is that it also seems to designed to threaten NATO forces in Western Europe to deter them from coming to the aid of the alliance’s newer members closer to Russia’s tender embraces.

Even if the R-500 and RS-26 pose a challenge for NATO, it does not make sense for the United States to withdraw from the INF Treaty. It isn’t often that I agree with former Bush administration official Stephen Rademaker, but he was exactly right when he testified: "I do not believe the appropriate remedy in this case is for the United States to withdraw from the treaty. Rather, since Russia so clearly wants out, we should make sure that they alone pay the political and diplomatic price of terminating the treaty. But it is also clear that we cannot and should not ignore the violations."

Putting public pressure on Russia is the right strategy, but sometimes the right strategy still falls short. The Russians would like to have intermediate-range nuclear forces, but without taking the political hit for withdrawing from the treaty. Keeping things quiet lets Russia violate the treaty, but without paying any political or diplomatic costs. The Russians hate having to talk about this in public. When Ivo Daalder raised the issue at the Munich Security Conference, Lavrov fumed. Making an issue of Russia’s R-500 forces Moscow to choose between its new cruise missile and its propaganda line about the threat from NATO. Russia might ultimately withdraw from the INF treaty anyway, but at least it will be clear who’s undermining stability and security in Europe.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/07/29/the_problem_with_russia_s_missiles_r500_rs26_inf_treaty

 

Welcome to Russian Nuclear Weapons 101
A blast from the Soviet past? You decide.
Tom Nichols
The National Interest | May 9, 2014

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Americans don’t think very much about nuclear weapons, and they certainly don’t think very often about their own arsenal, at least until something goes wrong with it, like the recent scandals involving the U.S. ICBM force. The Obama administration completed a nuclear posture review in 2010, a document that supposedly lays out the purpose and future of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Like previous U.S. reviews conducted in 1994 and 2002, it sank without a trace. The fact of the matter is that nuclear weapons and their mission simply do not matter much to post–Cold War American leaders.

Nuclear weapons, however, certainly matter to the Russians. Nuclear arms have always been the source of superpower status for both Soviet and Russian leaders. This is especially true today: the Soviet collapse left the Russian Federation a country bereft of the usual indicators of a great power, including conventional military force or the ability to project it. Little wonder that Moscow still relies on its nuclear arsenal as one of the last vestiges of its right to be considered more than merely—in President Obama’s dismissive words—a “regional power.” (Or in the caustic words of Senator John McCain: “A gas station masquerading as a country.”)

Today, nuclear weapons have retained not only their pride of place but an actual role in Russian military planning. Unlike the Americans, who see little use for nuclear weapons in the absence of the Soviet threat, the Russians—wisely or not—continue to think about nuclear arms as though they are useful in military conflicts, even the smallest. Some of this might only be the bluster of officers who have never overcome their Soviet training, but some of it is also clearly based on the Russian General Staff’s understanding of Russia’s military weakness against far superior adversaries, including the United States and NATO.

Before considering the future of the Russian nuclear arsenal and its role in Russian defense policy, a quick review of the development of Russia’s nuclear forces might be helpful.

Once freed from Stalinist orthodoxy, Soviet thinkers, like their Western colleagues, wrestled throughout the Cold War with the implications of nuclear weapons. Early on, Soviet theorists decided that while nuclear warheads were a remarkable development, it was not only their appearance but the ability to deliver them rapidly over long distances—that is, the development of ICBMs—that overall constituted a “revolution in military affairs.” (This phrase was later adopted and almost completely misunderstood by American strategists in thinking about the role of technology in warfare, but the Soviets pioneered the term.)

The Soviets rejected—at least in public—any notion that the sheer destructiveness of nuclear weapons defeated traditional aims of strategy. They held firmly to the assertion that nuclear war, as awful as it would be, would nonetheless be a war with a political character like any other, with a winner and a loser. Later evidence revealed that this idea was prevalent mostly among the Soviet military; Soviet civilians were far less sanguine about nuclear war and far less willing than their generals and marshals to court it. (There are undeniable and unsettling parallels here with American civil-military relations on nuclear issues.)

During this time, the Soviets and the Americans constructed nuclear forces that mirrored each other in important ways. Both relied on a mixture of ICBMs, submarine-launched missiles, and bombers to ensure the survivability of their deterrent and to maintain the ability to deliver a massive retaliatory strike no matter how bad the first wave of nuclear exchanges. To this day, only Russia and the United States maintain this “triad” of delivery systems. There were differences, however, that reflected geography and tradition: the Soviet Union, a massive land empire spanning two continents, commanded plenty of real estate and therefore buried most of its deterrent in silos. The United States, a maritime superpower, put most of its megatonnage underwater on submarines. The Soviet long-range bomber force never progressed beyond propeller-driven aircraft that had only enough range for one-way suicide missions, while the Americans developed the workhorse B-52 bomber and its stealth follow-on, the B-2.

Because of the Cold War standoff in Europe, East and West also developed a large arsenal of battlefield nuclear weapons. By the late 1960s, the United States and the USSR had tens of thousands of strategic and tactical weapons. Even more worrisome, each side fielded highly destabilizing INF, or intermediate-range nuclear forces, in the 1970s and 1980s. These weapons could reach all European NATO capitals from Soviet territory, and conversely, could reach Moscow from NATO bases, in a matter of minutes, cutting decision times for national leaders from minutes to literally seconds. This entire class of weapons (that is, with flight ranges more than 500 km but less than 5500 km, was banned by Soviet-American agreement in the INF Treaty of 1987.)

The jewel in the Soviet nuclear crown was the Strategic Rocket Forces, a separate branch of the armed forces dedicated solely to ICBMs. The United States, by contrast, divided the strategic mission between the Navy and the Air Force. (Although the Americans created a Strategic Command in 1992, the day to day operation of U.S. long-range forces still resides with the USN and USAF.) The Russian Strategic Rocket Forces still enjoy this privileged position, both in prestige and resources. Like the other Russian branches, they even have their own patron saint: St. Barbara, the patroness of people who, for want of a better description, work with things that explode. (Tellingly, the officially atheist Soviets established the SRF on St. Barbara’s Day—December 17—in 1959.)

The Russian nuclear arsenal in 2014 is much like its American counterpart: a kind of Mini-Me of its Cold War incarnation. It is a far smaller inventory than the huge Soviet force of the 1980s, but it is more than capable of destroying the United States, Europe, and the Northern Hemisphere. The Russian Federation officially claims to have 1400 nuclear warheads associated with 473 deployed strategic launchers of various types, although other estimates place that number somewhere between 1500 and 1700 warheads. The Americans, for their part, have 1,585 warheads deployed on 778 launchers. Each side actually has thousands more weapons, some nondeployed, others awaiting dismantling. (For a full, down-to-the-warhead accounting of the Russian arsenal, there is no better source than scholar Pavel Podvig’s website, from which these numbers are taken.)

In every respect, the current Russian deterrent is structured like its Soviet predecessor. ICBMs, launched either from silos or mobile launchers, remain the most reliable weapons and the mainstay of the Russian nuclear force. The Russian submarine force, almost moribund since the Soviet collapse and crippled yet again by a disaster in 2000 aboard the Russian submarine Kursk, has recovered somewhat, and Russian nuclear-missile-carrying submarines are now engaging in more patrols closer to the United States since 2009. Only the Russian bomber force remains mired in its Soviet-era decrepitude, in part because Russian jet design has been the poor stepchild of Russian military research and development efforts. Although Russia’s bomber pilots are flying more hours and trying to return to their Cold War games along North American and European airspace, Russian bombers remain little more than a small adjunct to the submarine and land-based threats.

At the strategic level, the difference between the U.S. and Russian arsenals is small, and both sides have committed to the cap of 1550 warheads mandated by the New START Treaty of 2010. But strategic nuclear reductions are, in a sense, the easy task, especially because New START uses simplified counting rules—treating bombers, for example, as one launcher with one weapon—that suggest that neither side really cares very much about the great bugaboo of 1970s-era arms control, “strategic superiority.” (Arms-control expert Hans Kristensen summarized New START’s rules more succinctly: “Totally nuts.”)

There are, however, several questions for Western policy makers to consider about Russia’s nuclear future.

Why are the Russians engaging in strategic modernization?

The Western press has made much of Russia’s recent moves to modernize its long-range nuclear force, but in part this is because long-planned retirements and replacements in the Russian force structure get treated as “new.” The Russians, never ones to forego the political advantages of poor information, play along and present plans they made years ago as responses to current U.S. policies.

When the Russians announced that they were replacing the massive SS-18 ICBM, for example, there was a flurry of stories in 2011 and 2012 about how the Russians were building a “monster” 100-ton missile, and how it was a response to America and its missile-defense plans. Of course, the SS-18 was coming to the end of its service life anyway, and the Russians had announced plans to replace it a long time ago—not least to keep all the people involved in making nuclear missiles gainfully employed. (Or, at least, gainfully employed in Russia.)

The point is that the Russians will modernize their strategic arsenal, and this shouldn’t cause undue worry in the West. The Russian rocket forces are a military jobs program, and Moscow’s plans to replace its strategic missiles long predate any current crisis. Although the Russians claim their warheads will evade any U.S. missile defense, we needn’t worry too much about that, since we have no national missile defenses, and the Russian “capability” to defeat our nonexistent defenses isn’t scheduled to be deployed until the mid-2020s, if ever.

Why won’t they get rid of their tactical nuclear arms?

NATO has about 300 or so tactical nuclear weapons left in Europe, and we don’t know what to do with them, largely because all of their former Cold War targets were located in Warsaw Pact nations that are now actually inside NATO itself. Modernizing these aging battlefield weapons will be hugely expensive: the Obama administration has, after a great deal of agonizing, pushed for an upgrade, and has already run into trouble on Capitol Hill.

The Russians, however, still keep an inventory of some 2000 tactical nuclear weapons. Why?

One reason is that Russia, like NATO, doesn’t know what to do with them. Nuclear weapons cannot simply be left by the curb on “fissile-material removal day,” and these small weapons are likely safer under military control than they are in storehouses. The other reason, however, is that the Russian General Staff still thinks these weapons have some kind of utility. In 2011, the Russian Chief of the General Staff, Nikolai Makarov, said that he could not “rule out that, in certain circumstances, local and regional armed conflicts could grow into a large-scale war, possibly even with nuclear weapons.”

It’s hard to imagine the difference between a “local” and a “regional” conflict, especially when nuclear weapons are involved. Although Makarov growled at NATO in his statement, it’s also likely he was looking to his unstable southern borders with Islamic countries. In either case, Makarov’s point is directly related to an admission he and other Russian officers have made before: that without nuclear weapons, Russia’s ability to sustain a major conventional conflict in any direction is severely limited. Who the Russian military chiefs think they’re going to fight is another matter, but like all militaries, their job is to make plans, not policy. Makarov stepped down in 2012 and was replaced by the much younger Valerii Gerasimov (age 58), but what’s more worrisome in all this is that there are least some officers in the General Staff who see nuclear and conventional power as fungible and interchangeable, with one usable in place of the other. So far, they have not had a chance to test that theory.

Does Russian military doctrine really think nuclear weapons are usable?

So far, the answer seems to be yes. Over five years ago, Russia put forward a draft national security concept, a kind of white paper on Russian security, and it included language about preventive nuclear strikes. After raised eyebrows in NATO and elsewhere, a scrubbed version was rereleased, with the rest classified and held back. (In fairness, that’s how the Bush administration did its 2002 nuclear review, with the same poor public relations effect.)

For now, the Russians seems to have adopted the notion—again, as a function of their conventional weakness—that nuclear weapons can be used to “de-escalate” conflicts. It’s doubtful that the Russians are really believe that nuclear strikes (especially on the United States or NATO) could be de-escalatory, but in the absence of any other ability to project force, old Soviet habits are hard to break. On May 7, for example, the Russian military floated the idea of stationing nuclear-capable short range missiles in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad if NATO increased its conventional forces in the region, a threat as unsurprising as it is meaningless.

Are they cheating on the INF Treaty?

For over a year, the Russians have been taunting the West by breaking, in spirit if not in letter, the INF Treaty. It’s a clever approach: they’re not actually building intermediate-range nuclear forces, they’re just taking long-range nukes and then testing them at intermediate range. In other words, they’re skirting the treaty, no doubt as a clear sign to Europe and NATO that they are not immune from nuclear attack in the brave, new post–Cold War world. Indeed, the Russians have openly mooted quitting the INF Treaty, even though the weapons they banned no longer exist and there are no Russian or American plans to make any.

The Obama administration’s usual approach to the Russians has been to lag behind more nimble Russian diplomacy, but in this case the administration’s low-key response is the right approach. What the Russians are doing is, in effect, goading NATO, and showing that they still have the old Soviet charisma that created NATO in the first place. It is not news that Russian nuclear forces can reach Europe; what’s different is that the Russians are trying to emphasize that capability by testing weapons as though the calendar is stuck on 1981.

Where’s the real danger?

In sum, the outlook for Russia’s nuclear forces is less important than the serious improvements Russia is seeking to make in its conventional forces, especially in Europe. The Russians have relied on nuclear arms to compensate for conventional weakness, a practice even Moscow realizes is unsustainable and dangerous. The real threat to NATO will occur if Western military forces on the ground continue to be hollowed out by budget cuts and a lack of purpose, while Russian forces continue to improve and to recover from the disarray of the Soviet collapse.

During the current crisis in Ukraine, many in the West and in Ukraine itself lamented the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, in which Russia, the United States, and Britain agreed to respect Ukrainian borders and sovereignty in exchange for Ukraine releasing any claims on the last remnants of the Soviet nuclear arsenal on its territory. If Ukraine had kept its weapons, the reasoning goes, Russia would never have dared to threaten Crimea and eastern Ukraine. But this is the wrong lesson: what seems to have given Moscow pause is the willingness of Ukraine, outnumbered and outgunned, to fight back. What may be serving to cool further Russian ambitions, in other words, is Russian conventional weakness. Had Ukraine kept its nuclear weapons, a Russian invasion might have taken place a decade ago on the pretext of “securing” those systems, but if Ukraine avoids a Russian invasion now, it will not be because of anyone’s nuclear arms, but because Russia is aware that it might face a serious conventional fight even against an admittedly weaker country.

If Moscow redresses those conventional shortcomings without an answer from the West, nuclear issues will seem, in comparison, like a quaint problem from the past.

Tom Nichols is Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval War College and an adjunct at the Harvard Extension School. His most recent book is No Use: Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security (University of Pennsylvania, 2014) The views expressed are his own.

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/welcome-russian-nuclear-weapons-101-10432

Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO)–4 Aug 14

Is Putin Gearing Up For Intervening In Asia Next? – Analysis
P. Stobdan
Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses | August 4, 2014

Few may have paid attention to the recently held (June 21-28) massive military “snap inspection” drill by Russia in its Central Military District (CMD) that involved 65,000 troops including Russian troops stationed in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. More than 180 aircraft and 60 helicopters took part in the war game. According to media reports, President Vladimir Putin had ordered the drill to keep the armed forces on constant alert.1 In fact, when this author was on a visit to Central Asia in June, the “snap inspection” had begun at the Russian Kant air base in Kyrgyzstan and the 201st Russian military base in Tajikistan. Media had quoted Yaroslav Roshchupkin, District Assistant Commander of CMD that a comprehensive inspection was taking place simultaneously in all military units of CMD’s 29 regions.

According to Eurasia Daily Monitor quoting Russian news agency Interfax (June 20–29) and Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozrenuya (June 29), the exercise involved forces from all the four Military Districts, which included “the 57th, 59th and Motorized Rifle Brigades and the 8th Surface-to-Air (SAM) Brigade of the Eastern Military District’s 5th Combined Arms Army (CAA). The 27th Motorized Rifle Brigade in addition to the elements of the Northern Fleet and the 790th Fighter Aviation Regiment (providing MiG-31, MiG-31BM, and Su-27) represented the Western Military District. The Airborne Forces (VDV) 7th Air Assault Division (Novorossiysk) represented the Southern Military District. However, the Central Military District deployed the bulk of the forces. These included the 2nd Air Forces and Air Defense Forces Command (562nd Base) Tolmachevo (Mi-8 and Mi-24); VDV 31st Air Assault Brigade (Ulyanovsk), 3rd Spetsnaz Brigade, the 28th, 23rd (Medium) and 21st (Heavy) Motorized Rifle Brigades, the 15th Motorized Rifle Peacekeeping Brigade, 385th Artillery Brigade and the 297th SAM Brigade.”2

Coming on the heels of Russia’s faceoff with Ukraine, the snap drill surprised many. Western analysts including the NATO officials viewed this as a gambit to wield additional pressure on Ukraine and further escalation of the crisis. The Russian Defence Ministry website gives no details but Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that the drill evaluated the operational readiness for any possible intervention in Central Asia in the near future. The June snap inspection was supposedly the largest operational-strategic exercise since Zapad 2013. The Central Military District acted the role of strategic reserve for other three military theaters in addition to forces deployed in Russian bases in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. At the end of the inspection, Russia’s Defense Ministry officials announced that it had achieved the goal of creating a self-sustaining strategic operational force and strategic mobility capabilities.3 Strategic mobility over the swath of territory has been a big issue for the Russian army. Traditionally, Russians military depended heavily on railway transportation, but the exercise this time believed to have paid extra attention to using airlift to enhance mobility. Russian An-124-100 Ruslan heavy-lift transporters airlifted Mi-24 helicopters from Tolmachevo Airbase (Novosibirsk Region) to Koltsovo airfield (Sverdlovsk Region). Russian media mentioned that the drill tested out the mobility range covering a strategic depth of 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) within three days period.

Quite clearly, the “snap inspection” was Russia’s own drill separate of annually conducted maneuver by the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) under the rubric Rubezh (“Frontier”) exercise. This meant that Russia was building its own capability either to act along with the CSTO’s Rapid Reaction Forces or to intervene unilaterally in the Central Asian Theater if required. However, the force structure comprising all forms of Motorized Rifle Brigades was different from the formation Russia used for annexing Crimea early this year. Clearly, the June snap inspection was a preparation for meeting the threats emanating from the southern frontiers or perhaps a rehearsal for supporting a crisis in Central Asia. As the CMD representative said, the main target was to neutralize international terrorists.4

Soon after another command-and-staff drill codenamed “Rubezh (Frontier) 2014” followed the “snap inspection” drill in Chelyabinsk region on July 15-18 under the aegis of CSTO with the participation of armed forces of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan, as well as joint staff and secretariat of the CSTO. 5 Rubezh is an annual drill mainly to display the joint operational capabilities of CSTO’s Collective Rapid Reaction Forces under a single command. It is also a platform for interactions and exchanging experiences. The drill also aimed at neutralizing extremist threats emanating from the south – the primary source of concern for the Central Asian states for two decades.

A series of CSTO war games scheduled for this year also include Vostok 2014 in the Far East in September. Not only this covers the challenges emanating from the Chinese Flank but also to counter the threats posed to Russian interests by the US in the Asia-Pacific. Interestingly, all these military maneuvers are being planned against the backdrop of the US and NATO troops pulling from Afghanistan and Central Asia. Moscow probably feels pressed to do something to defend the Central Asia flank where Russian interests are mostly concentrated. Although the scope of these maneuvers are wider to tackle conflicts erupting in any direction of Russia’s near-aboard, but considerations seem more to do with the Afghan-scenario. To be sure, the larger context of the shift of focus on Central Asia could be for the following reasons:

 

  1. To deal with the eventual Afghan fall outs after the impending withdrawal of International Security Assistance Force this year;
  2. To prepare for any eventualities especially the possibility of the West propping up Ukraine-type regime change in Central Asia that would threaten the existing regimes and the Russian interest in Asia;
  3. To consolidate support for ethnic Russians living near-abroad especially in Central Asia;
  4. To assess the possibility of sectarian and extremist forces spreading into the Caucasus and Central Asian regions;
  5. To signal the Chinese of their limits of influence in Eurasia hitherto increased unchecked.

Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDSA or of the Government of India

Notes:

1 ITAR-TASS, June 21, 2014

2 Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 11 Issue: 119, July 1, 2014

3 RIA Novosti, June 27

4 Colonel Yaroslav Roshupkin described, “In one of the regions, the reconnaissance unit detected international extremist organisations attempting to intimidate and enlist locals, and store ammunition, arms and drugs in warehouses. Command has made the decision to block and destroy the extremists by using artillery and air force.” Novosti reported on July 17, 2014 [http://en.ria.ru/military_news/20140717/190983408/CSTO-Holds-Military-Exercises-in-Central-Asia.html]

5 [http://en.itar-tass.com/russia/740724], 17 July 2014]

http://www.idsa.in/idsacomments/IsPutinGearingUpforInterveninginAsiaNext_pstobdan_010814.html

 

Russian Analytical Digest No 152: CSTO and SCO
21 July 2014

This edition of the RAD focuses on two regional security organizations in which Russia plays a prominent role — the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Indeed, the first article examines the next-step challenges an increasingly comprehensive CSTO faces, while the second one focuses on the SCO’s quest for socio-economic cooperation and regional stability, even though its members don’t share a common security strategy with each other.

2014 Research Centre for East European Studies (FSOE) and Center for Security Studies (CSS)

Download: English (PDF · 8 pages · 231 KB)

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