The future of Russia’s Special Operations Forces
Russia’s special forces have gained prominence and valuable combat experience in recent years playing crucial roles in Crimea and Syria. Now they are training to engage their NATO counterparts. As a result, Western militaries have been forced to change the way they approach this threat. Though Russian special forces are still playing a game of technological catch-up, they are a tool the Kremlin is increasingly likely to use.
Opinion: Political implications of terminating the INF Treaty
President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty is one in a series of withdrawals from contractual security arrangements. For the U.S., this step changes little in the bilateral relationship with Russia, but among European policymakers and media it has stirred up outrage. Paradoxically, this comes at a time when nuclear missiles – which are political weapons par excellence – have lost much of their significance in Europe.
GIS Dossier: The Italian case
Politically and financially, Italy has come to be regarded as a weak link in the European Union. Its shaky banks and enormous public debt almost blew apart the euro area during the debt crisis of 2010-2012, and could still do so. Its government, a marriage of populists on the left and right, claims to be the precursor of a protest wave that will sweep this year’s European Parliament elections. But as usual, it is hard to tell whether Italy is headed for disaster or more of the same.
Strategic defense: NATO’s conventional deterrent
The undeclared neo-Cold War between Russia and the West mixes 21st-century techniques – below-the-threshold operations, cyberattacks, information warfare through social media – with more traditional forms of military confrontation. As arms races, proxy wars and nuclear blackmail stage a comeback, NATO must rethink conventional deterrence. Yet even a beefed-up force will prove ineffective if the alliance chooses the wrong defensive strategy.
Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces and the new arms race
The Strategic Rocket Forces branch of Russia’s military is getting upgrades for its missiles and improved methods for delivering them. Moscow’s key goal is to maintain the ability to “escalate to deescalate” – likely with nuclear weapons – in case of any confrontation with NATO. With Cold War arms control structures breaking down, Russia’s vulnerabilities are becoming more exposed, increasing the potential for conflict.
A new military buildup in the Balkans
Throughout the world, military spending is reaching new heights, as countries beef up their defense forces. The trend is evident in the Balkans, where both Russia and NATO plan to build new bases and countries in the region reverse their postwar demilitarization. With Kosovo deciding to create its own army and a dangerous land-swap deal with Serbia on the table, tensions are rising.
The U.S. and Canada: chilly relations won’t sever the ties that bind
President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have a contentious relationship. Yet the economic, security and administrative ties that bind the United States and Canada together are far stronger than any hostility between the two countries’ leaders. Though differences in defense policy will exacerbate tensions over the next few years, trade will strengthen their bonds.
Macedonia: A new front in Russia-West tensions
Macedonia is moving forward with changing its name and securing membership in the EU and NATO, even though a referendum to approve these steps failed to meet minimum turnout requirement. But the damage has already been done. Russia, which does not want to see another Balkan country absorbed into Western institutions, has gained clout and could potentially scupper the process. That would leave Macedonia in limbo, creating further instability in this already volatile region.
Russia’s ground forces: No return to large tank armies
Moscow’s propaganda touting the scale of its military maneuvers notwithstanding, the country does not command nearly enough ground forces to defeat NATO or China in a protracted open conflict. The Russian Federation also does not have the demographics to expand its armies significantly. Its military planners, however, have been demonstrating an impressive dexterity in finding ways to address the changing defense needs of the Eurasian colossus.