Don’t Fear the Russian Military,

Mark Galeotti

The week-long exercises, which kicked off yesterday, are intended as a show of might. But the country is in no position to wage a real conflict.

The headline figures for Russia’s Vostok (or “East”) military exercises, which began yesterday, are dramatic: 300,000 soldiers, 36,000 tanks and other vehicles, 80 ships, and 1,000 aircraft operating across more than half the country. That’s double the size of the British armed forces. It’s also twice the size of the last Vostok war games, held back in 2014. As if that weren’t enough, some 3,200 Chinese troops and 30 aircraft are also involved, along with a small Mongolian force. […]

This exercise is part of what I have called “heavy-metal diplomacy”: Russia’s use of its military to overawe and misdirect the West. We’ve seen this kind of undiplomatic diplomacy at work in Europe, where Moscow has responded to debates in Sweden and Finland about joining nato with war games simulating Russian invasions. We also see this sort of diplomacy at work in the numbers game Vladimir Putin plays. […]

Yet Putin is aware that the objective indicators do not help him make his case that Russia, with an economy smaller than that of Texas, should be treated as one of the great world powers. Instead, he relies on bluff and bluster, theater and shadow play. Läs artikel