The many incidents with the Russian military over the last few weeks are not a coincidence. It looks like a prelude to intervention in Belarus.
Military strategy and politics
Kaliningrad is a military stronghold in the Baltic Sea. It is also an interesting case of Russia’s joint approach to defense under the leadership of the Baltic Fleet. Here is a quick overview.
Defense analyst Ilya Kramnik has been fired from Izvestia for publishing a critical analysis of an interview with defense minister Sergey Shoigu. Kramnik particularly addressed Shoigu’s inclination to taking credit for other people’s achievements and the propagandized nature of the Defense Ministry’s PR-practices under Shoigu.
The Arctic will not be a peaceful exception in a militarized world. In this post I compare the security situation in the Baltic and the Arctic. Both regions are militarized these days, but in very different ways. The most dangerous dynamics are in the Arctic, and it will get worse in the coming years.
Rumors that Russia would attack Ukraine during Christmas turned out to be false. That was predictable. If Russia wants to attack Ukraine, they are strong enough to do it whenever they want. They don’t need to check the Western holiday calendar. An escalation in January seems more likely.
It is doubtful that Western sanctions have had any effect on Russia’s behavior but that doesn’t mean that the sanctions don’t work. They will be good bargaining chips some day when things are less emotional.
Before the INF Treaty collapses, it is worth pondering why Russia is building a missile that breaks it. I argue that it is because they want a conventional missile akin to Tomahawk. It is silly if we turn this into a nuclear race.
Traditional theories about International Relations are simply not good enough to explain what is going on between Russia and the West. Andrej Krickovic delivers the argument in this policy memo for PONARS Eurasia.
The notion that Russia is about to collapse is way too common in Western discourse. Mark Galeotti reacts against this trend in an almost entertainingly scathing review of one such apocalyptic article.
Nowhere near 300,000 soldiers took part in the exercise, but it was still interesting. Not least for its focus on a free-play scenario instead of the usual rehearsal of predefined maneuvers.