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The Russia Studies Program
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The Artificial Intelligence in Russia newsletter features a summary of recent Russian-language reports on the Russian AI and autonomy ecosystem, divided into the following sections:

  • Introduction to this Special Issue on Army-2020
  • The Army Forum Since its Inception
  • Official Statements at Army-2020
  • Systems Exhibited at Army-2020
  • AI Conference at Army-2020
  • Other Relevant Panels at Army-2020

The following preview shows the first item in this issue:

Introduction to this Special Issue on Army-2020

This issue of AI in Russia is dedicated to the artificial intelligence / machine learning (AI/ML) and related innovations in the Russian Federation (RF) armed forces that were featured at the Army-2020 forum, the largest annual military expo and conference organized by the Russian Ministry of Defense (MOD). This year, the forum took place on 23-29 August, primarily in the Moscow region, and was attended by nearly 1.5 million people, including 320 people representing 92 countries’ delegations and exhibitors. There were also small Army-2020 satellite events in other parts of Russia.

The event, the fifth since the inception of the Army forum in 2015, featured over 5,000 weapons systems and technologies, including those of the RF armed forces science troops (special recruits from Russia’s universities who serve in highly technical areas of the Russian military). Numerous military competitions were held, including some in operations of unmanned systems and tanks. Over 40 government contracts with various defense entities were signed at the event, which also featured awards for innovative defense technologies.

As in the past forums, Army-2020 had a scientific-business portion, which featured over 180 briefings and roundtables and was attended by over 11,000 experts, as well as a special conference titled “AI Technologies in the Interests of Defense and Security of the State” that was moderated this year by Russian Deputy Minister of Defense Ruslan Tsalikov. Numerous Russian political and military officials made remarks that focused on the role of AI and defense innovation in the Russian military in the context of Army-2020.

Systems showcased and discussed at Army-2020 were consistent with the prioritization of the “intellectualization of weapons” stated in the 2024-2033 State Armament Program and an emphasis on defense innovation across the RF military, including robotic systems across Russia’s conventional and nuclear forces. There are still debates, however, as to the role of AI in defense-related technologies. For example, the issue of Russian military robotic systems conducting fully autonomous operations is still the subject of debate across the MOD. Currently, the “human-in the-loop” approach is the standard CONOPS when discussing and developing autonomous and unmanned military systems. At the same time, the MOD R&D institutions discuss the ever-lessening role of human operators in future combat. This special issue first presents background information on the Army conference series and highlights past conferences on AI/ML and related innovations in the RF armed forces. It then highlights key statements made by Russian defense officials at the 2020 forum and offers a discussion of key systems involving AI/ML that were exhibited at the forum. Following that, it profiles discussions at the special roundtable on AI technologies and other panels that focused on AI/ML and related issues.

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DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT A. Approved for public release: distribution unlimited. 9/11/2020


  • Pages: 26
  • Document Number: DOP-2020-U-028126-Final
  • Publication Date: 9/11/2020
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