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How potent is Russian Military Power?

CWS member(s) have contributed with insights to a Danish book about this question

By Michael Gjerstad, 2/2/2021

Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, there has existed a debate about how to evaluate what kind of threat Russia poses and whether Russian military capabilities are strong enough to challenge NATO either on land, sea, air, nuclear and all in between the grey zone of war and peace with offensive cyber and use of private military companies.

For a small country like Denmark, the past six years has raised a lot of debate amongst policy makers and the general public about what kind of threat Russia poses based on their capabilities and how Denmark ought to respond and adapt to any potential threat Russia may pose.

This is what the book Rusland som militær stormagt tries to give insights on; namely how powerful the Russian Armed Forces really are from a Danish perspective. The book project has come about as part of a research group under the leadership of the Royal Danish Defense College, where Danish researchers and subject matter experts on Russia or military affairs has written on different aspects of Russian military power.

The book is divided into two broader parts: the first part is focused on giving details about “what is it Russia wants?”, which highlights among other aspects the Russian military strategic culture and how Russian threat perceptions of NATO and the U.S.A shapes their defense policy; their military culture of the Russian Armed Forces; and rise of militarism in Russian society. The second part of the book goes into details about “is Russia ready for a fight?”,  about the different branches including the Russian Ground Forces, the Aerospace Force, the Navy, the development of Russian nuclear weapons and strategies, and the novelty of Russian private military companies.

PhD candidate Michael Gjerstad from Center for War Studies has in cooperation with Niels Bo Poulsen, cowritten a chapter on Russian Military Culture.

Major Mikkel Storm Jensen from the RDDC and fellow Ph.D. candidate at Center for War Studies, studies how Russia utilizes the cyber domain for espionage, sabotage, and psychological operations.

The role that Russian private military companies has is written by Niklas Rendboe, current cyber security specialist and a graduate from Center for War Studies’ Master of International Security and Law 2019.

If anyone wondering whether this book would be an exciting read, the former Danish minister of foreign affairs, Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, has this to say about the book (26 January 2021):

Lyder det gabende kedeligt? Det er det ikke, kan jeg forsikre. [...] Bogen er skrevet af en række forskere med tilknytning til Forsvarsakademiet, og der var meget nyt for en læser som mig, der ellers mener at følge godt med. Det er velkendt, at Rusland har ofret store ressourcer fra sin anstrengte økonomi til at styrke og reformere militæret efter den middelmådige præstation for godt ti år siden i krigen mod Georgien. Men man er kommet endnu længere, end jeg havde troet, og set i en sammenhæng tegner der sig et billede af et sammenbidt ønske om at gøre op med fortidens fejl. I de godt 20 år under Putin har ambitionen været at genrejse Rusland som militær stormagt. På mange områder er det lykkedes.

The book can be found here:
Editing was completed: 02.02.2021