The war in Ukraine has significantly damaged the Russian military, disrupted the Russian economy, and profoundly changed the geopolitical environment facing Moscow. What will the future of the Russian military look like? Some argue that the Russian military will reconstitute in a relatively short time and learn lessons from the war in Ukraine, ultimately aiming to improve its fighting power through reforms and thus remain a significant threat to the United States and its European partners and allies. Others argue that the Russian military will pose a far less formidable conventional threat going forward, with reconstitution limited by available manpower, sanctions, and export controls, and with the war in Ukraine exposing fundamental weaknesses in the Russian military.
On Tuesday, September 19, 2023, CSBA’s Katherine Kjellström Elgin and Eric Edelman will discuss forthcoming research that examines the future of the Russian military by analyzing the Russian military’s propensity to reform. Based off a study of history and characteristics of the Russian military, the research suggests that the Russian military that emerges after the war in Ukraine is unlikely to be a significantly different force than before. That does not mean that it will not be a threat – but because reform is only likely to occur under narrow conditions, the Russian military is unlikely to drastically reshape in the medium- to long-term. Instead, the Russian armed forces will likely look similar to the Russian armed forces we see today, even if there are major reform programs announced