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Russian Military Forecasting and Analysis: The Military-Political Situation and Military Potential in Strategic Planning

The Russian Ministry of Defense uses military forecasting to inform its long-term planning. Since the 1960s, Russian military analysis has applied comprehensive assessments of a country’s ability to wage war that go beyond weapons and formations. The Ministry of Defense uses this forecasting to answer (1) what is the likelihood and character of future war and (2) what is the correlation of military potential between Russia and its potential adversaries?

In this report, the authors draw on an established framework to examine key indicators related to military forecasting to gain insight into the answers to these questions.

The Russian military science and academic research that the authors of this report reviewed found that the correlation of military potential (state power) — a broad measure that includes political, economic, scientific-technical, and conventional armed forces indicators — is and will be weighted in favor of the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the West and the United States and Japan in the Asia-Pacific region through 2040. The factors that could improve Russia’s competitive position are the inclusion of China in the correlation of military potential and the possible reduced ability of the United States to manage the international system in ways that favor its interests.

Russia’s current military assessments and forecasts have not found indications of intentions of the United States or China to launch a large-scale war against Russia. The conditions under which Russia might take preemptive military action that risks war with an opponent with superior military potential remain an open question.

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This publication was sponsored by the Russia Strategic Initiative, United States European Command, and conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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