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Russia’s “Strategy of Limited Actions”

Russian General Staff Chief Valeriy Gerasimov

Saturday Russia’s quasi-governmental Academy of Military Sciences conducted its annual conference on military strategy. General Staff Chief Valeriy Gerasimov made the keynote address, but only drips and drabs of his speech have been publicized thus far.

Russian news agencies focused on his remarks about an alleged Pentagon “Trojan Horse” strategy to weaken and overthrow anti-U.S. regimes around the world.

More interesting, perhaps, were Gerasimov’s comments about a new strategy for foreign intervention and limited war in defense of Russian interests.

The General Staff Chief reportedly told his audience that the experience in Syria had allowed the MOD to distinguish this new, practical area of Russian strategy.

According to Interfaks-AVN, Gerasimov said:

“This is carrying out missions to defend and advance national interests beyond the borders of Russian territory in the framework of a ‘strategy of limited action.’”

“The foundation for implementing this strategy is the creation of self-sufficient troop groupings on the base of formations from one armed service which has high mobility and is capable of making the greatest contribution to carrying out the missions set forth. In Syria such a role was given to the formations of the Aerospace Forces.”

“The most important conditions for implementing this strategy are winning and maintaining information superiority, anticipatory readiness of command and control and comprehensive support systems, and also covert deployment of the necessary grouping.”

He didn’t mention them but Russia’s invasion of Crimea and war in eastern Ukraine also qualify as examples of Russia’s new “strategy of limited action,” its new limited war doctrine if you will. Or the deployment of ChVK Vagner mercenaries and MOD trainers in Africa.

Surprise and covert deployment are what Moscow has been best at lately.

But the Russian military is not as ready for expeditionary warfare in the Third World as it was politically, diplomatically, and militarily in the 1970s or 1980s. And a one-service operation abroad goes against the grain of traditional Soviet and Russian military thinking.

With ideology (beyond opposing alleged U.S. domination of the world order) gone from the equation, which Russian interests will be supported by the “strategy of limited actions?” The interests of the Kremlin-sponsored political and financial elite? The Putin regime’s interest in distracting Russia’s attention from its domestic problems?

Russian Defense Policy

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