Swedish Defence Research Agency


Russia and Eurasia

The Russia and Eurasia Studies Programme (RUFS) mainly studies Russia’s military capability and developments in politics, economy and society

Russian military parade

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.


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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The Russian Armed Forces are developing from a force primarily designed for handling internal disorder and conflicts in the area of the former Soviet Union towards a structure configured for large-scale operations also beyond that area. The Armed Forces can defend Russia from foreign aggression in 2016 better than they could in 2013. They are also a stronger instrument of coercion than before.

This report analyses Russian military capability in a ten-year perspective. It is the eighth edition.
A change in this report compared with the previous edition is that a basic assumption has been altered. In 2013, we assessed fighting power under the assumption that Russia was responding to an emerging threat with little or no time to prepare operations. In view of recent events, we now estimate available assets for military operations in situations when Russia initiates the use of armed force.

The fighting power of the Russian Armed Forces is studied. Fighting power means the available military assets for three overall missions: operational-strategic joint inter-service combat operations (JISCOs), stand-off warfare and strategic deterrence. The potential order of battle is estimated for these three missions, i.e. what military forces Russia is able to generate and deploy in 2016. The fighting power of Russia’s Armed Forces has continued to increase – primarily west of the Urals.

Russian military strategic theorists are devoting much thought not only to military force, but also to all kinds of other – non-military – means. The trend in security policy continues to be based on anti-Americanism, patriotism and authoritarianism at home. Future generations are being trained into a patriotic spirit, and there is a wide array of different school and youth organizations with a mission to instil military-patriotic values in the younger generations. Opportunities to change the policy to a more Western-friendly approach have diminished. This will be the situation Russia finds itself in whether Vladimir Putin continues as president or not.

The share of military expenditure in Russian GDP has increased from 3.6 per cent in 2005 to 5.4 per cent in 2015. This is the result of the political will to prioritize military expenditure over other items in public spending. At the same time, the implementation of the State Armament Programme has improved the Russian arms industry’s prospects of playing a substantial role in the ongoing rebuilding of Russian military capability for the next decade.

To read the full report, please click here

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

Jakob Hedenskog, Deputy Research Director, Programme Manager, 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.

Nils Dahlqvist, junior analyst, Msc. Nils covers Russian energy politics and private military companies. He has a master’s degree in political science from MGIMO University.

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.

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

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.


Last updated: 2019-07-30