Russian Media Analysis Report
Issue 1, October 10, 2021 PDF Version
Russian reactions to the AUKUS Indo-Pacific alliance
An in-depth analysis of the AUKUS (United States, Australia, and United Kingdom) alliance, published in Nezavisimoe Voennoe Obozrenie, argues that the alliance is part of an ongoing US strategy to reduce the influence of China and, to a lesser extent, Russia in the Indo-Pacific region. But given the long timeline for the construction of Australia’s new nuclear submarines, the alliance will not change the strategic balance in the region any time soon. Enhancing US effectiveness in this confrontation was considered worth the risk of serious tensions with France. Other articles argue that it will take time for France and the US to restore mutual trust, given the severity of the offense.
Russian analysts discuss New Cold War, space deterrence
Two recent articles discuss the ongoing evolution in the US-Russia strategic relationship from very different perspectives. In an article in Slon, Aleksandr Golts argues that Moscow and Washington will be forced into a policy of “peaceful coexistence” like the one during the Cold War in order to make the world safer in the face of a possible nuclear war. An article in Voenno-promyshlennyi kur'er warns of an evolving US policy of deterrence against Russia and China that, in addition to nuclear and non-nuclear deterrence, now also encompasses the space domain.
NATO’s expulsion of eight Russian diplomats and reduction of mission
Several Russian publications covered the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO’s) October 6 announcement that due to “malign” Russian activity, eight Russian diplomats will be expelled from the permanent observer mission to the alliance, and its maximum size will be cut from 20 to 10 diplomats. One Rossiyskaya Gazeta article by Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) President Igor Ivanov suggests that these decisions were politically motivated ahead of the formation of NATO’s new Strategic Concept. A Kommersant article discusses how Moscow may respond to these decisions, including through reductions of the NATO military liaison mission in Moscow.
Potential US role in Iranian tensions with Azerbaijan and Israel
Several recent articles address the United States’ alliance with Israel in relation to rising Israeli-Iranian tensions. Relations between Iran and Azerbaijan have deteriorated in recent weeks, particularly due to Iranian claims that Israel has a military presence inside Azerbaijan close to its border. Azerbaijan rejected these claims as “totally baseless.” Two Nezavisimaya Gazeta articles examine the potential for escalation in the region, what the role of the US or NATO in such conflicts could be, and what it might mean for Russia (particularly if conflict spills over into Syria).
Russian analysts discuss the US withdrawal from Afghanistan
Multiple Russian commentators have recently written on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. An article in Krasnaya Zvezda uses the US military leadership’s own words to suggest that the collapse of the Afghan armed forces took the US and its allies by surprise, a testament to a general trend towards underestimating the challenges of nation-building in the country. An article in topwar.ru provides an overview of the 20-year conflict, arguing that the stated goal of defeating international terrorism was a cover for controlling the global drug trade and securing strategic positioning at the center of Eurasia.
Washington views the Arctic as a platform for a global show of force
A commentary in Krasnaya Zvezda discusses the establishment of a new regional center at the Pentagon that will focus on assuring US national security in the Arctic region. The article argues that the center is part of a continuing US effort, driven by both Republican and Democratic administrations, to assure US dominance in a key region that is seen by the Pentagon as a corridor for expanding great power competition in the Indo-Pacific and European regions, a possible launching pad for potential conflicts, and a platform for global shows of force.
Morale problems in the US military
An article in topwar.ru assesses the state of the US military as it deals with internal issues related to military culture, social inequality, and criminality. It argues that crime is a major issue in the US military, a problem exacerbated by a pervasive lack of respect among service members, and by the way that gang members and extremist groups use the military to train and learn military science. The article also notes the military’s increased attention to the problems of sexual violence and suicide, which had previously been ignored.
Russia-Turkey presidential summit impact
Two articles touch on Russia-Turkey relations in the aftermath of the summit between Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan in late September, focusing on how the relationship balances Western influence in the region, despite Turkey’s status as a NATO member. The first article discusses the potential expansion of Russian military sales to Turkey, including military aircraft and possibly submarines, and its potential influence on the US-Turkey bilateral relationship. The second addresses the Russia-Turkey relationship in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the war in Syria, but also the relationship’s utility in balancing what the author considers malign Western influence.
Strategic capabilities of the Swedish military
An article in topwar.ru analyzes the strategic and industrial capabilities of the modern Swedish military. It argues that though Sweden is a neutral state, it perceives an increased threat from Russia and has therefore increased its investments in military construction in addition to revising its strategic concepts. Sweden is also preparing for conflict with an eye to the medium- and long-term vision of geopolitical competition, which informs its development approach.
NATO activity on Russia’s borders
The Russian military newspaper Strazh Baltiki notes an increase in NATO air reconnaissance activity on Russia’s borders in September in conjunction with Zapad-2021. It also discusses NATO’s Namejs-2021 exercise, held in Latvia. The article suggests that the Latvian military and government are incompetent, while NATO forces do not care about Latvian civilians and generally display a low level of professionalism.