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Russia and Eurasia

Compared to a decade ago, Russia has clearly made substantial progress in transforming its military into an efficient fighting force. A new report from FOI forecasts a consolidation of Russian military capability towards 2029, with several implications for international security.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of the Security Council of Russia, in the Kremlin on October 26, 2019. (Photo by Alexei Druzhinin / Russian Presidential Press and Information Office / TASS / Sipa USA)

RUFS covers the following aspects of developments in Russia and the former Soviet Union:

  • Russian domestic and foreign policy
  • Russian threat assessment and security policy decision-making
  • The Russian Armed Forces, including weapons of mass destruction
  • The Russian defence industry and research and development
  • Russian economic development and defence economy
  • Russian energy policy
  • Developments in Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, the Caucasus and Central Asia

RUFS’ primary client is the Swedish Ministry of Defence. Every two or three years, the project conducts a ten-year assessment of Russian military capability. In the interim it carries out in-depth studies in the areas mentioned above.

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A couple of times a year the RUFS project publishes a Newsletter on the work of the project and with links to the latest publications.

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Compared to a decade ago, Russia has clearly made substantial progress in transforming
its military into an efficient fighting force. This report addresses the question: What military
capability will Russia possess in another ten years?

Through analyses of Russia’s Armed Forces and their fighting power, and of the political
and economic factors that affect the development of military capability, this report arrives
at a forecast of Russian military capability towards 2029. The study’s primary focus is on
regular warfare capabilities. This is the ninth in a series of FOI reports, dating back to 1999,
on Russian military capability.

At present, there is no sign of a change in Russia’s current authoritarian and anti-Western
security policy. Recognition as a great power and establishing a sphere of interest in its
neighbourhood will remain its main objectives. Change can come quickly in a ten-year
perspective. However, we cannot expect any precise signs in advance.

The impressive pace of improvement of Russia’s Armed Forces in the past decade is
probably not sustainable. Instead, the next ten years will consolidate these achievements,
notably the ability to launch a regional war. Strategic deterrence, primarily with nuclear
forces, will remain the foremost priority.

Over the past ten years, Russia has bridged the gap between its policy ambitions and
its military capability. A significant increase in Russia’s military capability towards 2029
would require that an increase in defence spending, arms procurement, the Armed Forces’
organisation, and exercise activity were given priority and received sustained political
support.

Read the reportopens in new window

The following experts with different backgrounds and areas of expertise are involved in the Russia project (RUFS). Most of the participants speak Russian:

Johan Norberg, Senior Researcher, MSc in Business Administration and Russian, Programme Manager
Johan follows developments in the Russian Armed Forces, international operations of the Swedish Armed Forces and African security.

Maria Engqvist, Junior Analyst, MA
Maria is a Slavist and follows the development of Russian security and domestic policy.

Pär Gustafsson, Analyst, MPhil, DPhil (Oxon). Russian language at Moscow State University (MGU) and a holder of an International Master of Arts in Russian Studies (IMARS) at the European University at St Petersburg. Previously conducted academic research on corruption and Russian legal institutions. Currently, Russian security policy and military issues.

Jakob Hedenskog, Deputy Research Director, MA
Jakob is a Slavist and political scientist. He covers Russian foreign policy, the North Caucasus, Russian counter-terrorism and the countries in Russia's neighbourhood.

Jonas Kjellén, Military Analyst, Politices magister (PM)
Jonas follows different aspects of the development in the Russian Armed Forces.

Tomas Malmlöf, Researcher, MSc in Political Science and BSc in Economics.
Tomas follows developments in the Russian defence industry and Russian energy policies and also works on energy security and economic development in the Baltic region as well as Nordic defence cooperation.

Susanne Oxenstierna, Deputy Research Director, PhD
Susanne took her PhD in Economics at Stockholm University in 1991. She has worked with public sector reform in Russia and other East European countries for the last 15 years. Susanne’s current research centres on developments in the Russian economy and the defence economy sector.

Gudrun Persson, Associate Professor
Gudrun covers Russian security policy and foreign policy, as well as Russian strategic military thought, and military reform.

Carolina Vendil Pallin, Deputy Research Director, PhD
Carolina covers Russian domestic policy and security policy decision-making, as well as Russian military reform, the security services and Russia’s relations with the EU.

Fredrik Westerlund, Deputy Research Director, BA in both Law and Political Science.
Fredrik is currently writing a PhD thesis on modern Russian civil–military relations at the Åbo Akademi University in Finland. He focuses on Russian security policy and military strategy as well as nuclear weapons and is also one of the experts on the Armed Forces and the defence industry.

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Last updated: 2020-04-02