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Ally or adversary? : NATO enlargement and the Russian Military Keefe, Tania J.

Abstract

Military reform has been a stated priority of the Russian government since the creation of the Russian Armed Forces in 1991. Despite this, Russia's military remains an outdated, bloated, corrupt and incompetent force. The numerous reasons for this state of affairs include severe lack of funding, bureaucratic impediments, political instability and the anachronistic perception that Russia remains a great power. This thesis explores beyond the traditionally cited internal factors and argues that NATO expansion has been a key external factor behind the dismal progress of military reform in Russia. Expanding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has perpetuated the notion amongst Russians, especially within the military, the General Staff and the Ministry of Defence, that the Alliance poses a threat to Russian security. This mindset has translated into a continuing focus in Russian national security doctrines on maintaining nuclear parity with the West (i.e., NATO ) as well as the retention of large conventional forces. This has diverted scarce resources away from equipping and professionalizing a smaller, streamlined army. Furthermore, the current sorry state of Russia's military is beginning to manifest itself in serious social problems, such as widespread drug abuse, and increasing suicide and desertion rates. Russia must modernize its armed forces if they are to become an effective instrument of state and counter the real threat to national security: terrorism rooted in religious extremism and secessionist movements. The second major argument of the thesis is more optimistic. In the post- 9/11 security environment, perceptions regarding the West in general and NATO specifically may have evolved sufficiently to allow President Vladimir Putin to shift the focus of national security away from the inaccurate, albeit strongly perceived, threat from the West, to the real menace posed by Islamic radicalism along Russia's southern flank. With badly trained conscripts and nuclear weapons powerless to fight terrorism both domestically and in the former Soviet Union, pressure will only increase for the long overdue modernization of Russia's Armed Forces.

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