Peacekeeping and the modernized Russian armed forces

FFI-Report 2007

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2007/01415

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978-82-464-1188-0

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Kristin Ven Bruusgaard
Reform of the Russian armed forces has been on the agenda of the Russian political leadership ever since the break-up of the Soviet Union. The aim of the modernization of the Russian armed forces is to develop, train and prepare them for modern threats and challenges. These include asymmetrical and guerilla warfare, and tasks connected with peacekeeping, especially in a world where international peacekeepers receive broader and more complex mandates than in the 1990s. This bodes for new perspectives when it comes to Russian-Western joint peacekeeping operations. Until this date, no deep-cutting military reform, in the western sense of the word, has been carried out in Russia. Efforts directed toward such a reform have been thwarted at an early stage, either by lack of finances or political will, or by opposition from within the ranks. The modernization efforts that are currently being carried out within the Russian armed forces consist of small steps toward modern capabilities, rather than radical measures to reconstruct the whole of the armed forces as a modern entity. However, these steps are slowly but steadily creating results, in the form of tangible capabilities that are being developed within Russian units. This process has been accelerated by the surge in defense spending in recent years. The modernized units constitute the most deployable part of the Russian armed forces today. Russian forces already have broad experience with peacekeeping, in the CIS area as well as in NATO and UN operations. Particularly the operations in the CIS area have shaped the Russian understanding of peacekeeping activities. Although some of these operations were substantially different from traditional UN peacekeeping operations in the 1990s, the two types of operations have gradually become more similar, as peacekeeping practices have toughened. Thus, the Russian tradition for ‘muscular peacekeeping’ seems to have become more applicable in the modern world. In addition to the 15th motorized rifle brigade designated peacekeeping tasks, Russia is developing a large capacity for modern war-fighting. The core of this capacity consists of 92 units that are to be on permanent combat readiness. This is a highly valuable capacity that could be drawn on for peacekeeping purposes, also on short notice. In order for that to happen, however, the political leadership would have to identify clear Russian national interest in the deployment of Russian peacekeeping forces outside the CIS area. Political will would also have to be mobilized in favor of reforming the personnel policy of the armed forces, which currently appears to be the largest obstacle to creating a professional force. Only then would the Russian armed forces become truly modern and ready for international peacekeeping operations.

About publication

Report number

2007/01415

ISBN

978-82-464-1188-0

Format

PDF-document

Size

798.4 KB

Download publication

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