Russia's Ascendant Military Trajectory
The United States and the international community seems to have been so busy grappling with the turbulence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and lately the global economic crisis that little analytical attention seems to have been paid to Russia's ascendant military trajectory and what does it portend. It seems that the United States and the West continue to be in frozen mindsets on their perspectives of Russia as to what it was in the post- Cold War era of the 1990s. Russia has already commenced its strategic efforts to re-define the existing unipolar international order with its recent military intervention in Georgia.
Russia however like the proverbial phoenix has risen up and is in the process of making its presence felt once again all over the world. The critical component of Russia's resurgence is the emphasis by Russia's political leadership to place Russia on an ascendant military trajectory so that Russia is once again has a potent military machine like in the days of the Cold War and which facilitated Russia's functioning as the 'second pole' in the global power games.
Russia's ascendant military trajectory was a strong feature of former President Putin's (now Prime Minister) strategic agenda and now continues as a top priority in President Medvedev's agenda too. Thus there has been a continuing momentum in this direction.
Presently the top most priority in building Russia's strategic strengths seem to be focused on Russia's strategic missiles arsenal up-gradation and the Russian Navy's forward naval presence in different regions of the world.
In the post- Cold War era while the rest of Russia's military capabilities may have become jaded due to paucity of funds the strategic missiles arsenal of Russia was maintained at pre-Cold War levels. In other words Russia even in a weak economic state ensured that her nuclear deterrence primarily aimed at the United States was maintained intact.
Therefore in Russia's current rearmament and up-gradation of military capabilities
program the task of making Russia's nuclear arsenal more potent has not been a difficult task Since such a strategic arsenal not only provides deterrence but also an instrument of strategic and political coercion, President Putin had accorded top priority to this powerful component of Russia's military might. Russia has successfully tested new generation of ICBMs, SLBMs and long range Cruise Missiles. These developments are widely publicized and so also the presence of both former and present Presidents presence at the time of tests.
The Russian Navy has placed sizeable orders for a whole series of new combatant ships which would be added to its fleet in a speedy manner. Without awaiting for these orders to materialize the Russian Navy has moved a fleet into the Mediterranean Sea after many years and will be showing the flag in Venezuela and Cuba , that is to say in America's backyard.
The Russian Air Force has not been left behind. It has resumed after many years strategic long range surveillance flights over the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.
What does this all portend ? It portends that Russia wants to recapture its privileged position as the global second superpower that it had till 1991 before the disintegration of the former Soviet Union and that it plans to re-emerge as an independent global center of power.
Russia's ascendant military trajectory therefore needs to be viewed accordingly. Implicit in such dynamics would be the likelihood of the beginning of a second Cold War and the international community has to be prepared for the attendant political and strategic tussles.
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Dr. Subhash Kapila
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