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Rail transport in Ulan-Ude, Russia

If War Comes Tomorrow: How Russia Prepares for Possible Armed Aggression

Julian Cooper
Whitehall Reports, 5 August 2016
Defence Spending, Russia, Defence Management, Defence Policy
This report analyses the economic dimension of Russia's system of mobilisation, detailing the extensive preparations that Moscow has made for war

This report describes and analyses developments in Russia’s system for economic mobilisation for possible war since 1991 in order to illuminate its role in the country’s present-day military capability. Its focus is on the system for preparing the economy of the country and maintaining its power structures in the event of war. This is a dimension that has received little attention in the literature on Russian national security, perhaps in part because it is considered by the country’s leadership to be a matter of the highest level of secrecy. 

The analysis shows that having lived through more than two decades with relatively ill-equipped armed forces, now being modernised under an ambitious state armament programme, it is perhaps not surprising that Russia’s leadership should be prioritising an ability to respond rapidly and effectively to any possible armed attack, hoping to deter military action by the certainty of a rapid, concerted response by not only the country’s armed forces, but also by institutions of government, economic agents and society as a whole, at both the federal and territorial levels. The state of mobilisation readiness must now be considered seriously when making any assessment of present-day Russia’s military capability.

About the Author

Julian Cooper OBE is Professor Emeritus at the Centre for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies at the University of Birmingham, and Associate Senior Fellow at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

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