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.
GIS Dossier: Angela Merkel
When Angela Merkel finishes her term as German chancellor in 2021, it will mark the end of an era. Love her or hate her, this shrewd political operator has had a huge impact on Germany, Europe and the wider geopolitical scene. This GIS Dossier compiles our experts’ analysis of her policies and the effects they have had across the globe.
Kazakhstan: Russia’s staunchest ally wavers
Could the linchpin in Russia’s plan to reassert its control over former Soviet states be in danger of slipping away? Moscow fears it might. Kazakhstan has been making overtures to the U.S. and China, and chipping away at key cultural ties. For now, Astana cannot afford to break away from Russia’s orbit, especially in security matters, but an overreaction by the Kremlin could tip the balance.
The sense and nonsense of economic sanctions
Economic sanctions are occasionally useful in trade conflicts, but they work poorly when employed as a political tool. The United States and the EU would have accomplished more had they responded to Russia’s 2014 aggression against Ukraine with immediate increases in defense spending and kept their military options open.
Pitfalls and dilemmas of arming Ukraine
Washington’s decision to sell modern U.S. anti-tank missiles to Kiev means that a red line in the West’s involvement in the Ukrainian crisis has been crossed. Whether the delivery of this expensive weapon system to the embattled nation serves U.S. national security interests or brings Kiev closer to reclaiming the territories it had lost to Moscow-backed insurgents is highly debatable.
Kadyrov’s Chechnya poses a growing risk for Putin
In Ramzan Kadyrov, Russian President Vladimir Putin has found someone who can both keep Chechnya under control and supply ruthless troops for conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. But the Kremlin's hold over its Chechen warlord is tenuous and risks backfiring in the long term. Acting now could have dire consequences as well.
No solution in Donbas
A close look at how events are unfolding in the Ukraine conflict makes clear that the Minsk agreement and the Normandy format, which were supposed to help lead to a resolution, are irrelevant. Russia is digging in, while the West has few strategic options. The most likely scenario now is one where the conflict remains frozen and the Kremlin retains a de facto veto over any Ukrainian move toward the West.
Surprising evolution in U.S. policy toward Ukraine
In no time, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was elevated from Donald Trump’s doghouse to the status of an honored guest at the White House. The U.S. president has discovered reasons to demonstrate to his NATO allies, and the world, his tough stand on Russia. As East-West tension mounts, the conflict over Donbas, a portion of eastern Ukraine captured by Moscow-backed secessionists, may quickly degenerate into a U.S.-Russia proxy war.
The rise of mercenaries in Russian military operations
It is common for global powers to use private military contractors when they do not want their own armed forces to get involved in dirty work. However, Russia’s increasing use of them in places like Ukraine and Syria – where they have taken on major operations – signals the Kremlin’s expectation that it will expand its use of force around the world.
Russia’s 2018 elections: Why the Kremlin is running scared
The outcome of Russia’s presidential election in 2018 appears a foregone conclusion: President Vladimir Putin will remain in power. The issue is the cost of renewing his official mandate, as anger is growing among ordinary Russians at worsening economic conditions and the shameless enrichment of the ruling elite. Next year’s election campaign will offer the disaffected an opportunity to vent their frustration and protest in public. If things get nasty, Russia will not be the only country to feel the consequences.