“The Unprofessional Russian Soldier”, Joris Van Bladel (Egmont, Belgium)

Stuck in the middle between past and future, the Russian army struggles with a manpower paradox as it is simultaneously too big and too small. It is too big to train appropriately, emphasizing materiel above human capital, firepower above manpower, and mass above precision. Yet it is too small to match the hubris that goes with Russia’s great power obsession. As a result, the Russian army is still a force in the making, showing varying levels of combat readiness. This is a surprise since the Russian military has been implementing systemic reform and comprehensive modernization programmes for at least fifteen years. It has organized impressive strategic exercises and numerous snap drills, and it has conducted military operations abroad, accumulating combat experience.

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