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How Putin has transformed Russian army into a modern and formidable fighting force

Как Путин превратил российскую армию в современную и грозную боевую силу

The annexation of Crimea in 2014, “the invisible invasion” of the Russian Federation to the East of Ukraine, as well as the loyalty to Moscow of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad — all this testifies to the powerful wave of self-confidence and assertiveness in Russian foreign and military policy. The last five years, President Vladimir Putin carries out modernization and restructuring of the Russian armed forces, increasing their combat capability and confidence. However, Western analysts felt that the military reform in Russia has produced nothing more than a paper tiger, and that the reforms failed miserably.

Such reckless criticism of the Russian military reform is of concern. Despite the flaws, the program of modernization and restructuring initiated by Vladimir Putin and his former defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov after the Georgian war of 2008 has enhanced the combat readiness and combat capabilities of the Russian armed forces, and this happened at a time when many major members of NATO and the allied countries have cut budgets and the strength of their armies. Today the Russian armed forces are equipped and capable of conducting modern warfare is much better than in any of the periods after the collapse of the Soviet Union. And it came as a surprise to Western analysts.

Of course, a certain part of the criticism is justified. Here can be mentioned the program of construction of supereminence in conditions when Russia does not have the necessary shipyards and engineering of the facilities for their construction and maintenance. In addition, it seems very unrealistic plan for the construction of strategic bombers Tu-160 M2 and two thousand tanks T-14 “Armata”. Yes and to staffing the increase in the number of contract soldiers and professional NCOs may be more problematic than expected at the beginning. Now, when there was a sharp decline in oil and gas prices, it may well be that further major reforms Russia will not afford.

At the same time, despite some recent increase in military spending in some NATO countries, almost all of the past decade, many of them have reduced their forces and weakened their military potential. To correct this negative trend started just now. An illustrative example is the story of how the Netherlands was first withdrawn your main battle tank, and then again took. Activity and assertiveness of Moscow in its near abroad and in Syria has forced NATO to reassess not only its military potential, but also Russian.

The activity of the Russian Navy, especially the submarine forces of the Northern fleet, increased to the highest level since 1991, has led the United States to restore its facilities in Iceland Keflavík to provide anti-submarine patrol aircraft P-8A Poseidon. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu again began to conduct large-scale and sudden teachings in the Soviet way, which two weeks ago took place in the southern military district. This indicates the readiness of the army to conduct combat operations. More often and then began to fly patrols of strategic bombers. Operation “little green men” in Crimea points to increase the combat effectiveness of Russian special forces, and the actions of the United group in Syria that is able to “see, shoot, and provide” on land, at sea and in the air, show how a increased the Russian ability to conduct combined arms combat.
Geography suggests that the Russian military reform should not cause much concern to those who shape Australian policy in the sphere of security. But Russia is still a strong player in the Asia-Pacific region. This is confirmed by large-scale joint exercises of Russian and Chinese military cooperation between the two countries in the cyber sphere, increased frequency of flights of strategic bombers near GUAM and even close to West coast of the US, as well as the passage of Russian warships along the Eastern coast of Australia during the g-20 summit in 2014. In addition, Russia in January announced the supply of unspecified weapons of the army Fiji, which indicates its growing strategic presence in the South Pacific ocean.

Putin’s intervention in Syria is an example of the conflict of Australian and Russian strategic interests, and now political and military leadership of Australia should take account of Russian intentions and capabilities. Australian air force today, making combat missions, not only in one theatre with the most modern and capable Russian Sukhoi su-35 and su-34, but probably within range of defense systems s-400 “Triumph”. The intersection of Australia and Russia in the middle East should be a serious reminder of how the Russian military reform may have an impact on the Australian defense planning.

The government in its White paper on defense should comprehensively analyze the implications of Russian military reform, and opportunities and the degree of presence of Russia in the Pacific ocean. It should also think about Russian intervention in Syria and how Russia’s actions should be reflected in Australian defence policy and strategy.

Mitchell Yates — graduate student, University of Western Sydney.

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Reader comments

Frank Blangeard
Russia has supplied “unspecified weapon of the army Fiji”. Well, Fiji is increasing and poses a tremendous threat to Australia.

Elvis
How’s the old proverb says: “Russia is never so strong as it seems, and never so weak as it seems”. Something like that?

Randal
“Today, Russian armed forces are equipped and capable of conducting modern warfare is much better than in any of the periods after the collapse of the Soviet Union. And it came as a surprise to Western analysts”.
Most likely, the majority of Western analysts were too busy, told his audience the opposite of the lies. Poroca Russia in the eyes of the Western public, they declared: “Russian is still a global threat, not inferior to the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.” And when you had to convince the audience that Russia’s concerns should not be taken seriously, they said, “the Russians Have outdated and dilapidated army, and in General they do not matter”.
They with his duplicity, lost sight of the obvious reality. The Russian armed forces in any imaginable situation can’t be equals to the armed forces of NATO, which each year spends on their needs ten times more than Russia, and the Russian army continues to suffer from numerous problems associated with the collapse of the Soviet Union and post-Soviet decline. But on the other hand, Russians are spending significant money to solve these problems, they have a superior army and superior military leadership, they are not inferior to NATO in some areas and can compete with it in any confrontation in rather favorable conditions.

Lemurmaniac
Brilliant! Many countries are now scared and will buy more weapons. Good work, Mitchell.

Frank Blangeard
It is, but after reading his article, many will want to buy weapons from Russia.

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