Policy Memos

President Putin and His Generals: Bureaucratic Control and War-Fighting Culture

Policy Memo:


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Since the attacks on the United States on September 11, Russian president Vladimir Putin has moved Russia decisively toward the West, staking out a prominent place in the U.S.-led antiterrorist coalition. He has also redefined the war in Chechnya as just another theatre in this global campaign, thereby hoping to reduce the level and intensity of Western criticism. Putin quickly allied with the West diplomatically and politically in antiterrorist efforts, but the ability of the Russian military to be a useful partner in this campaign may inhibit Russia’s desire/efforts to be a useful contributor to the joint efforts in combating terrorism. Will Putin be able to transform the Russian military into a reliable partner with the West and, perhaps down the road, for NATO? Although the answer involves a host of issues, from resources available to the military to hunger and violence in the barracks, the key to successful military reform will be whether or not the military leadership accepts Putin’s authority. The president has shown skill and firmness in consolidating his control, but his relations with the top brass are far from being problem-free and hidden tensions might be building. [...]

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About the author

Research Professor
Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)