The CFE treaty seems to collapse


That's one more nail in the coffin. An end for the CFE would probably mean the end for non-standard treaty-dodging weapons such as 98 mm mortars. More importantly, it would remove a Rubicon between now and arms racing time.

The latter is of heightened interest because the Russians announced (again) a major re-building of their conventional ground forces during the 2010's.
The blog of choice for keeping an eye on their efforts is in my opinion Russian Military Reform.

S Ortmann


  1. Well its a lot cheaper for Russia to announce a rebuilding, than to do it, and it seems to serve the same strategic purpose - spur America into bumping up its defense spending, thus contributing another mite towards weakening its economy. At least, I assume thats the longterm thinking.

  2. Money and nuclear warheads put a limit on reasonable conventional forces build-ups.
    That one of the reasons I always advocate battlefield and naval nuclear(-capable) systems.
    I don't mind CFE treaty ending.

  3. The political advantage of saying we are building a stronger Russian military. Isn't there an election next year in Russian that Putin is planning on running in?

    "The Russian bear is showing its claws again, but how sharp are they?" - Reuters 2007


  4. I suspect they will simply bring up their industry to speed, modernise equipment of active forces to normal level and make sure troops near hotspots (Caucasus + 'peacekeepers') and airborne troops are fully capable. Procurement will at minimum suffice to sustain the dual use industry at an acceptable level and keep it as a foreign currency cash cow.

    There's no point in arms racing against the EU, nothing to be gained by aggression or serious arms racing.

    Then again, politicians often make stupid moves. There was nothing to be gained by invading Iraq or occupying Afghanistan either.

  5. It looks like they are doing precisely what you said about russian rearmament.

    About Iraq or Afghanistan well we could let Zbigniew Brzezinski explain.
    The logic of the arguments is perfect. Of course to create facts on the ground according to plans and wishes is something else.
    You might have a perfectly legitimate purpose , the most legitimate in the history of mankind - to kill and rob. Lack of succes does not make you\re plans less legitimate or less logical. It just means you were unsuccesfull. Of course it does not mean the US lost. It\s not over yet.

  6. It is quite fashionable to dismiss the Russians these days. Truth is they have an awful big military and plenty of nukes. Yes, they have lost twenty years in their military R & D, but eventually they will catch on. If for nothing else simply because they have to in order to remain a great power. If Russia isn't an empire what is Russia? It should also be noticed that while some European countries are deeply concerned about the Russians others are more than willing to trade with them and even sell weapons to them. One of the reasons I don't buy the idea of the pitiful and permanently drunk Russians stuck in perpetual decline is that so many are willing to help them get up on their feet again.

    There is also a political dimension to it. Whether we like it or not, many countries don't like the idea of being lectured by the West regarding human rights and democracy. We can't even offer economic incentives anymore (the EU is lucky if the Euro survives the next six months and the United States is almost broke). I suppose the last straw was that in recent years several Western powers have even embraced the use of torture in the war against terror. If the United States can have secret prisons and use torture or assassin its enemies at will, why can't Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan or even Turkey do the same?

    The sad thing is that during the Cold War it was well understood how important good relations with the Soviet Union was. The CFE treaty and other disarmament agreements are proof of that. Today nobody cares about the Russians and the CFE treaty is considered to be a relic of old times. This is a disaster. While it is certainly true that Russia isn't as powerful as it once was, it still has plenty of ways of making life miserable for us. For those who believe that the times of confrontations with the Russians are over I would like to ask you to reconsider. We - the West - have been close to armed confrontations with the Russians several times the past twenty years. I am not saying full-scale war, but definitely fighting and perhaps even battles.

    1995: A NASA rocket provokes a nuclear alert in Russia.

    1999: British NATO forces come close to a firefight with Russian soldiers in Kosovo.

    2008: Russia invades Georgia. The United States considers bombing an important tunnel to prevent them from moving forward.