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Russia's Military in 2035: Killing the Enemy from Distance (With Cruise Missiles)

Basically, long-term, the Russian military is moving from a force that relies on mass towards one that has the ability to strike precisely while retaining its capability to cause area effects. But Oliker noted that Russia has not completely integrated precision-guided weapons into its doctrine and that is very much a work in progress. In Syria, for example, precision-guided weapons are not used in a particularly well thought out manner. However, Russian precision-guided weapons doctrine is evolving as the Russian military learns to use its new tools. “That’ll be worth watching,” Oliker said.

Ultimately, Russia is not the threat that the Soviet Union once was. But nor is Moscow quite as weak as it was in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union where the Kremlin had to rely solely on its nuclear arsenal for deterrence. Modern Russia has the means to strike back conventionally against potential threats. “Russia now has a really decent conventional standing force,” Kofman said. “They no longer depend on nuclear weapons as their only deterrent.”

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest. You can follow him on Twitter: @davemajumdar.

Image: Creative Commons. 

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