Russian Military Capability in a Ten-Year Perspective - Ambitions and Challenges in 2008


  • Jan Leijonhielm
  • Jakob Hedenskog
  • Jan T Knoph
  • Robert L Larsson
  • Ingmar Oldberg
  • Roger Roffey
  • Maria Tisell
  • Fredrik Westerlund

Publish date: 2009-03-05

Report number: FOI-R--2707--SE

Pages: 304

Written in: Swedish


  • Russia
  • CIS
  • military capability
  • operative capability
  • armed
  • forces
  • democracy
  • securitypolicy
  • energy
  • weapons of mass destruction
  • foreign policy
  • domestic politics
  • nuclear weapons
  • chemical weapons
  • biological
  • weapons
  • doctrine
  • MIC
  • R&D
  • Putin
  • Medvedev


This report is the fifth in a series of assessments of Russian military capabilityin a ten-year-perspective, which have been published since 1998. As in the previous four assessments, the assumption is that military capability is influenced by the development and character of the Russian leadership and society. Therefore, the military capability is analysed in relation to the development of Russian democracy, domestic and foreign policy, threat perceptions, security policy decision-making, economic development, etc. The report concludes that Russian military capability has increased in recent years as a consequence of increased resources for training and exercises. Given a continued favourable financial situation, Russian military strength will continue to grow also in the coming ten-year period. But the development of qualitatively new military capabilities demands extensive structural changes within the Armed Forces and the society at large. Such development is today hampered by structural deficiencies in many sectors within the Armed Forces, particularly in personnel. If the economic crisis becomes long-lasting, the Armed Forces will be forced to make hard choices concerning equipment supplies and exercises. If the political leadership decides to continue the military build up irrespective of whether the economy allows it, there is an evident risk that Russia will be caught in a Soviet-like trap consisting of military structural thinking and an over-dimensioned military sector. The negative socio-economic effects of such a solution might lead to growing discontent and protests against the political leadership, which in the end might result in more repression.