The Russian Understanding of War

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200 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9781626167339 ()

200 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9781626167346 ()

ISBN: 9781626167353

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November 2019
LC: 2019006351
Sales Rights: World


Table of Contents

The Russian Understanding of War
Blurring the Lines between War and Peace
Oscar Jonsson
This book analyzes the evolution of Russian military thought and how Russia's current thinking about war is reflected in recent crises. While other books describe current Russian practice, Oscar Jonsson provides the long view to show how Russian military strategic thinking has developed from the Bolshevik Revolution to the present. He closely examines Russian primary sources including security doctrines and the writings and statements of Russian military theorists and political elites. What Jonsson reveals is that Russia's conception of the very nature of war is now changing, as Russian elites see information warfare and political subversion as the most important ways to conduct contemporary war. Since information warfare and political subversion are below the traditional threshold of armed violence, this has blurred the boundaries between war and peace. Jonsson also finds that Russian leaders have, particularly since 2011/12, considered themselves to be at war with the United States and its allies, albeit with non-violent means. This book provides much needed context and analysis to be able to understand recent Russian interventions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, how to deter Russia on the eastern borders of NATO, and how the West must also learn to avoid inadvertent escalation.
Oscar Jonsson is during 2019 Director of the Stockholm Free World Forum (Frivärld), a Swedish foreign and security policy think tank, and associated researcher at the Swedish Defence University. Previously, he was a subject-matter expert at the Policy and Plans Department at the Swedish Armed Forces Headquarters. Jonsson holds a PhD from the Department of War Studies, King's College London.
"A brilliant analysis that provides a deep understanding of how Russian leadership thinks today."—Sverker Göranson, General (Ret.) and former Supreme Commander, Swedish Armed Forces; Chairman, Royal Swedish Academy on War Science

"This masterly overview of Russia's concept of war underscores the need to see the world through Moscow's eyes, since as Oscar points out, Russian practice so often follows Russian theory. Along the way, Oscar once again demolishes myths and misunderstandings like the 'Gerasimov Doctrine' and 'Russian hybrid warfare' that have bedevilled analysis of Russian security policy since 2014. As such, this book is a valuable asset not only for policy-makers but for the whole Russia-watching community. Highly recommended."—Keir Giles, Senior Consulting Fellow with the Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House

"Russia's resolute application of military force as a heavy-impact instrument of its foreign policy is driven by modernization of its strategic thinking. Oscar Jonsson gives a fresh and sharp perspective on this blend of traditional dogmas and innovative aggressiveness in Russian views on waging and winning modern wars."—Pavel K. Baev, Research Professor, Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)

"At a time when the West is rocked by often-lurid claims about a Russian military threat and its aggressive posture, this excellent book is a vital corrective. Through a deep and detailed reading of the Russians' own military writings, Oscar Jonsson has produced a balanced, informed and sensible assessment that neither underplays nor overstates the threat, and which ought to be read in policy circles, defence academies and universities alike."—Mark Galeotti, Senior Associate Fellow, Royal United Services Institute

"Many in the west are still playing catch-up when it comes to understanding Russian strategic culture and thinking about military issues. Oscar Jonsson does all of us an important service by tracing the origins of Russian thinking about many of today's most important security challenges as well as the ongoing evolution of Russian perceptions of the nature of war. A very timely book."—Andrew Weiss, Vice President for Studies, Russia and Eurasia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

"This book provides much needed context and analysis to be able to understand recent Russian interventions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, how to deter Russia on the eastern borders of NATO, and how the West must also learn to avoid inadvertent escalation."—Irish Tech News

"This book provides much needed context and analysis to be able to understand recent Russian interventions in Crimea and and eastern Ukraine and how to deter Russia on the Eastern borders of NATO."—Eye Spy Magazine

"The ... book offers an efficient overview of trends in Russian military thought since the collapse of the Soviet Union paired with detailed examinations of the two major subjects that have defined those trends: information warfare and color revolutions."—Strategy Bridge

"In this well-documented review of Russia's understanding of war, Jonsson provides an insightful analysis of the profound differences between Western and Russian perceptions of key 21st-century global events."—Choice

"Oscar Jonsson's The Russian Understanding of War is a valuable addition to the corpus of knowledge on Russia's military thinking about war."—Joint Forces Quarterly

"Jonsson offers an interesting illumination of Russian thinking."—RUSI

"Drawing on a systematic and exhaustive reading of Russian doctrinal documents and military theory, Jonsson's thesis is simple: the Russian military's conception has fundamentally changed in the last decade."—Russian Review

"What this timely and well researched book does is nicely encapsulate both change and continuity in Russian military doctrine and capabilities, sum- marizing the most influential thinkers within Russia and drawing from primary documents."—Political Science Quarterly

"The Russian Understanding of War is an excellent work for anyone looking to understand Russian perspectives on the nature of conflict."—Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC)

Table of Contents

1 The Soviet Understanding of War
Soviet Military Science
The Cause of War
The Nature of War
War as an Instrument of Politics
Evgeny Messner

The Russian Understanding of War after the Dissolution of the Soviet Union
The 1990s: Continuity
The 2000s: Confusion
The 2010s: Change

3 Information Warfare
The Information Security Doctrines
Information-Technical Warfare
Information-Psychological Warfare

4 Color Revolutions
The Political View
The Military View

Policy Implications

About the Author