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10/27/2016

Russia's Foreign Policy

Peter Zwack, retired brigadier general from the U.S. Army, is the Senior Russia-Eurasia Fellow at the National Defense University’s Institute of National Security Studies.  From 2012 to 2014, he was the senior U.S. defense attach to Russia.  The other day he wrote a piece for Defense One on Russia’s current foreign policy.

[Excerpts]

“Judging from the positive reception that President Vladimir Putin received at the recent G20 summit in China, Russia appeared to be working out of its post-Crimea isolation.  But that looks to have been temporary. A fleeting opportunity is being missed: Russia might have targeted ISIS in Syria, complementing the offensive launched by Iraqi and Kurdish forces against ISIS-held Mosul in neighboring Iraq. Or it might have accepted several UN-backed cease-fire proposals.  Instead, it pressed a ruthless, lawless effort to force a decision in Aleppo.

“There is a sense that Moscow has lost control of its own narrative.  It is certainly losing its best chance to be a credible part of any lasting, globally-supported solution in Syria. Without such, it will be stuck, expensively alone with its proxies, in a seemingly endless civil war.  Increasingly a pariah state, Russia may become committed to a future of economic and political isolation as the price for a higher-profile international standing built upon military excesses in Crimea, eastern Ukraine, and Syria.  If so, Moscow may become even more reactionary and aggressive, feeling it has little to lose.

“Already, its military, improved but stretched, is increasingly a policy tool of choice. As this is written, Russia’s sole aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and its well-armed escorts are cruising in a highly publicized sortie toward the eastern Mediterranean.  The flotilla will likely slip under Russia’s reinforced A2AD (anti-access, area denial) air-defense network in Syria and add its aerial and missile arsenal to the bombardment just days before the U.S. election. This follows the consecutive and likely coordinated deployments of S-300 air-defense missiles to Syria and the SS-26 Iskander short-range ballistic missile to Baltic Kaliningrad.

“Will the largely loyal, but sanctions-strained Russian population, back this recklessly defiant course indefinitely?  Only time will tell....

“As one who came to appreciate the hardy Russian people and their distinct culture over three decades of interaction, I had hoped, and still do, that Russia, faced with firm boundaries and patient diplomacy, can find a way back to the international mainstream of law-abiding nations.  Until then, Russia will reap what it sows.”

Hot Spots will return in a few weeks.

Brian Trumbore



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-10/27/2016-      
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Hot Spots

10/27/2016

Russia's Foreign Policy

Peter Zwack, retired brigadier general from the U.S. Army, is the Senior Russia-Eurasia Fellow at the National Defense University’s Institute of National Security Studies.  From 2012 to 2014, he was the senior U.S. defense attach to Russia.  The other day he wrote a piece for Defense One on Russia’s current foreign policy.

[Excerpts]

“Judging from the positive reception that President Vladimir Putin received at the recent G20 summit in China, Russia appeared to be working out of its post-Crimea isolation.  But that looks to have been temporary. A fleeting opportunity is being missed: Russia might have targeted ISIS in Syria, complementing the offensive launched by Iraqi and Kurdish forces against ISIS-held Mosul in neighboring Iraq. Or it might have accepted several UN-backed cease-fire proposals.  Instead, it pressed a ruthless, lawless effort to force a decision in Aleppo.

“There is a sense that Moscow has lost control of its own narrative.  It is certainly losing its best chance to be a credible part of any lasting, globally-supported solution in Syria. Without such, it will be stuck, expensively alone with its proxies, in a seemingly endless civil war.  Increasingly a pariah state, Russia may become committed to a future of economic and political isolation as the price for a higher-profile international standing built upon military excesses in Crimea, eastern Ukraine, and Syria.  If so, Moscow may become even more reactionary and aggressive, feeling it has little to lose.

“Already, its military, improved but stretched, is increasingly a policy tool of choice. As this is written, Russia’s sole aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and its well-armed escorts are cruising in a highly publicized sortie toward the eastern Mediterranean.  The flotilla will likely slip under Russia’s reinforced A2AD (anti-access, area denial) air-defense network in Syria and add its aerial and missile arsenal to the bombardment just days before the U.S. election. This follows the consecutive and likely coordinated deployments of S-300 air-defense missiles to Syria and the SS-26 Iskander short-range ballistic missile to Baltic Kaliningrad.

“Will the largely loyal, but sanctions-strained Russian population, back this recklessly defiant course indefinitely?  Only time will tell....

“As one who came to appreciate the hardy Russian people and their distinct culture over three decades of interaction, I had hoped, and still do, that Russia, faced with firm boundaries and patient diplomacy, can find a way back to the international mainstream of law-abiding nations.  Until then, Russia will reap what it sows.”

Hot Spots will return in a few weeks.

Brian Trumbore