Russian security doctrine holds that U.S. strategy toward Russia is centered on a multi-dimensional effort to constrain, encircle, weaken, and coerce Russia, preventing it from securing its interests abroad and weakening it from within. Russian security policy therefore is aimed at escaping the constraints, protecting and building power, and denying the U.S. the ability to encircle and coerce it, in both political and military terms. Russian military doctrine is aimed at mitigating Russian vulnerabilities, building necessary strengths within Eurasia, developing capabilities to deter the U.S. from coercion, and defeat U.S. military operations if deterrence fails. Russian defense programs have focused on building flexible and useable conventional forces for Eurasian contingencies (including both defense-in-depth and initiative-seizing options), mitigating Russian C4ISR deficiencies and vulnerabilities, multiplying options across the conflict spectrum, and incorporating non-kinetic means for weakening adversary capabilities and resolve. While U.S. strategy is not aimed at Russia in the way its security doctrine has defined, multiple sources of friction in our respective national interests create the potential for security dilemma-driven crises and escalation. The U.S. should develop capabilities, operations, and policies that improve defense and deterrence while mitigating the risk of inadvertent escalation with an adversary that is increasingly risk-acceptant, willfully misinformed about intentions and facts, and fearful of Russia’s relative weakness and global decline.
Celeste Wallander served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russia/Eurasia on the National Security Council, as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia, professor at American University. Celeste’s scholarly and policy work has focused on security relations in Europe and Eurasia. She is an expert on Russian foreign and security policy, Eurasian security relations, security institutions, Eurasian military and defense issues, and conflict escalation and intervention. She is the author of over 80 publications on European and Eurasian security issues, focused on Russian foreign and defense strategy.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Center for Global Security Research (CGSR) sponsored this talk entitled “Russian Security Policy and the Implications for U.S. Defense Strategy” by Celeste Wallander on May 8, 2018.