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This Is How the Russian Military Plans to Fight Future Wars


Russia is actively seeking out areas of relative strength to compensate for its military’s overall weakness.

Given the amount of attention paid over the last year to the capabilities of the Russian military, it is worth considering how the evolving character of warfare over the next 10-20 years is likely to affect Russia’s military capabilities when compared to leading Western states.

The trend toward greater automation, including the use of remote control weapons and AI-driven autonomous warfare, will increasingly put the Russian military at a disadvantage. Russia does not have the technology to match Western automated systems and lacks the capabilities to develop such systems on its own in the foreseeable future. Russia’s defense industry is well behind Western militaries in automated control systems, strike drones, and advanced electronics of all kinds.

The Russian government has recognized these gaps and, until recently, was attempting to rectify them through cooperation with the Western defense industry. However, the freezing of military cooperation between NATO member states and Russia in the aftermath of the annexation of Crimea and the concurrent imposition of sanctions by most Western states will preclude the rapid acquisition of advanced military and dual-use technology by Russian defense firms for the foreseeable future. Financial constraints resulting from the budget crisis that has occurred because of the decline in oil prices will also hinder the development and deployment of weapons using new technologies.

As a result, Russia will have to look for alternative ways to counter Western automated technologies. Two possibilities that play to the Russian military’s strengths include trying to jam enemy communications and using electronic warfare to disable drones and other automated equipment. These are both areas where the Russian (and previously Soviet) military has extensive experience. The recently unveiled Richag-AV electronic warfare system is designed to jam radar systems in a range of several hundred kilometers, so as to render opponents’ radio-electronic guided weapons systems inoperable. It can be mounted on a wide variety of land, sea, and air platforms and, at least according to official Russian statements, its capabilities are far superior to any Western equivalents.


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