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J.I.N.S.A.: The Russian Military between Facts and Myths

By: Gad Nahshon

"Russia does not want another war between Israel and the Arab states because they know what will happen if the United States comes in a big way. But they would very much like to get the Americans out of the Middle East or further off the perch of being the only country that can play there" wrote Professor Stephen Blank, a well-known expert on Russian affairs and especially on the Russian military n a new publication by J.I.N.S.A. (the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) located in Washington, D.C.

The title of this publication is The Russian Military: Is Time Running Out? Dr. Blank is the Douglas MacArthur professor of research at the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College who published numerous leading research on Russian affairs. Thomas Newman, J.I.N.S.A.'s executive director, wrote the preface, J.I.N.S.A.'s president, David P. Steinman, wrote the Introduction, and James Colbert was the editor. This publication also has three appendices which illuminated the main issue of this publication.

The following points are Dr. Blank's main assessments:

  1. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the expansion of NATO to include three countries formerly part of the Warsaw Pact signaled an end to the threat from the East -- from Russia. Western countries, the United States in particular, responded to the changed strategic atmosphere by reducing defense spending and the size and structure of their armed forces.

    NATO expansion is not just a consideration of the status quo. It puts a spike in any effort to restore Russian imperialism -- and this is what really is at stake.

  2. The nuclear doctrine of 1993 said that Russia is ready to launch pre-emptive strikes in the event of the threat of aggression from states that are allied to nuclear powers, as well as nuclear powers themselves. Strikes against anybody who makes conventional strikes on power plants, C3I targets or nuclear installations.

  3. On Russia's relationship with Iran:

    "The Russian defense industry must export to survive. The relationship with Iran is founded on very compelling strategic relationships, mainly having to do with Central Asia and the Caucasus and both states' relationship to the United States and to Russia's ambitions in the Middle East. I believe they will continue to supply Iran with high technology and weapon systems. And you are talking about the SS-4 ICBM."

    "I think Israel will have the build Theater Missile Defense (TMD) and I suspect the government there knows it. The Arrow missile defense system is already in research and tests and they are going to have to extend it."

  4. "Russia cannot sell much to Syria and Iraq because Iraq is still under the embargo and Syria has no money. However, if Syria gets money from Saudi Arabia, I would venture to say you would start seeing Russian weapons in Syria. Now, I know Israeli generals have charged that the Russians gave Syria chemical weapons in 1993, when Gen. Anatoly Kuntsevich [head of the Russian chemical warfare program] was in Damascus. There is no way of knowing in unclassified form whether or not this is true."

    "But my sense is that Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov has been trying to organize an anti-American, anti-Israel bloc in the Middle East, particularly in the Gulf. Now with the possible end of the peace process bringing Syria in to check American influence -- it would help bring Russia back into the peace process as a player in the Middle East."

  5. On the Russian army today:

    "Whatever is written on paper does not really count. They are completely unable to defend Russia or Russian citizens from either external or internal threats. Their budget is not really a state budget but essentially is the largesse of President Yeltsin or the Cabinet, or what they can raise privately through deals benefitting themselves as well as their administration. Many of these deals, as you see if you read the Russian press, do not stand up to a lot of scrutiny."

  6. Yeltsin controls the Army. His power is based on the MVD, an internal army of 250,000 men. Yeltsin controls the army's finances. We have faced a complete politicization of the army.

  7. The Russians are still very good military visionaries and still experts in information warfare.

  8. Russia must sell its conventional weapons. Even Cyprus bought some. With lack of financial resources, Russia comes to the conclusion that we see today in reality: A. . .There is an investment today in land-based intercontinental range ballistic missiles (ICBMs), mobile ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and strategic anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and command, control, communications and intelligence (C3I).

Also, Russia is building biologic and chemical weapons. (Disregarding Start II or Chemical Weapons Convention.)

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