Reorganisations are also occurring at the force level, with the Russian army looking to reconfigure its Military District system. The force is also reportedly interested in phasing out division- and regimentalsized formations in favour of adopting the brigade as the predominant level of military organisation. Keeping one eye on future possible requirements to intervene either in Russia's 'near abroad', or further afield, the Ministry of Defence has pursued similar efforts to NATO, and the European Union, in terms of organising standing forces that can be deployed at short, or medium, notice. Investment is also flowing into Russia's Special Forces, which are seen by the country's defence planners as an important capability in counter-insurgency campaigns.
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Another key aspect of Russia's military modernisation is the overhaul of its nuclear deterrent. Along with France, Russia is the only other European nuclear power performing an overarching upgrade of its nuclear forces. The United Kingdom's modernisation of its nuclear deterrent is expected to commence later this decade. The importance of the nuclear deterrent to Russia is two-fold: not only is it essential for Moscow to retain a credible nuclear force in terms of size and capability to balance the nuclear deterrent of the United States, and to act as a deterrent vis-a-vis smaller declared nuclear powers such as China, India and Pakistan; but the Russian nuclear force helps to balance the considerable reduction in the size of Russia's conventional military forces from the days of the Cold War.
It should also be noted that the possession of a nuclear arsenal continues to carry prestige on the international stage as it does for the other original declared nuclear powers of the United States, France, China and the UK. The modernisation efforts of the Russian nuclear force are focusing on the introduction of new submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and intercontinental ballistic missiles, along with new aircraft and nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. Although Russia will continue its nuclear modernisation over the next decade, it will at the same time continue to work with the United States to negotiate bilateral reductions in the size of the two countries' strategic nuclear arsenals.
Away from the nuclear sphere, several important procurement initiatives are ongoing throughout the Russian army, navy and air force. The latter service will begin receiving new multirole combat aircraft over the next five years, and has recently received upgraded combat aircraft that had been destined for assembly in China. The procurement of new combat aircraft is moving hand-in-hand with the development of advanced air-to-air missiles to equip these platforms. Deliveries are ongoing of airborne early warning platforms, and of new jet trainers. Existing platforms have not been neglected and the Russian air force is, to this end, modernising some of its conventional bombers. New ground-based air defence systems are being delivered to the air force, while the acquisition of new air-to-ground cruise missiles currently in development is expected by 2020.
The Russian navy, meanwhile, will soon receive a new class of amphibious support ships based on a French design, while construction programmes for new frigates and corvettes are underway. The subsurface fleet is to receive new nuclear-powered attack submarines, alongside the ballistic missile boats discussed above. Comparatively little news exists concerning the equipment being inducted into army service, although as of early 2012, the force has taken delivery of new mine detection equipment, and may yet acquire a new assault rifle in the near future.
Russia is no longer locked in a conventional and nuclear arms race with the United States and NATO. The government does not have the impetus to match equipment and personnel levels on a piece-by-piece basis. That said, the country is determined to ensure that its armed forces remain capable and credible. Since the end of the Cold War and the Soviet Union's collapse, Russia and the Confederation of Independent States has suffered almost continued, albeit localised, conflict in some part of the former Soviet Union's territory. Modernisation efforts are aimed at ensuring Russian forces can prevail in similar future conflicts, and project power far from Russia's borders if required.
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