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Strategic Landpower and a Resurgent Russia: An Operational Approach to Deterrence

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Technical Report

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Army War College - Strategic Studies Institute Carlisle United States

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Over the past century, U.S. relations with Russia have evolved from ally to enemy to strategic partner to competitor. The political landscape and national interests of the Russian Federation have changed since the breakup of the Soviet Union. As a result, relations between Russia and the United States today are strained, largely because of Russias actions in Ukraine. Understanding Russias intentions has been challenging and difficult in the past for the United States. This monograph argues that Russias foreign policy is driven by four overarching factors Russian President Vladimir Putins approach to the world around him the Kremlins desire for centralized control of the population Russias desire to protect its homeland through an outside buffer zone and an enduring distrust of the West. Given these drivers of Russian foreign policy, deterring Russia without provoking conflict or creating a spiraling security dilemma is a difficult task. Russias actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine have put the Baltic States and Eastern Europe on edge. The primary challenge for the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO is to deter both a conventional threat and an ambiguous footnote 1 threat as Russia works toward achieving its objectives. The most dangerous scenario facing the West is a Russian advance into Alliance territory with conventional forces, but many assume this is not very likely. Alternatively, an indirect Russian approach using ambiguous warfare to fracture the Alliance and increase Russias influence in Europe is far more likely. In attempting to devise solutions that would address both a conventional and an ambiguous threat, this monograph theorizes that based on current force structure, NATO lacks the capability to defeat a surprise Russian conventional attack into the Baltic States or Eastern Europe, regardless of the likelihood of such a scenario.

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