Russians fret that US objective in conflict with it would be regime change

Leonid Bershidsky:
Russian and U.S. generals have made no secret lately of the fact that they each view other as their No. 1 adversary.

Modern weaponry plays a big role in these mutual threats. But Russian Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov is now fretting that the U.S. will deploy a “Trojan horse” strategy of fostering a fifth column within Russia and its allies. That the general should be looking so publicly over his shoulder at his own people should trouble citizens.

On Saturday, he talked about the threat in a speech at a conference at the Academy of Military Sciences. He said:

The U.S. and its allies have set an aggressive vector for their foreign policy. They are developing offensive military actions such as a “global strike” and “multi-domain battle,” using “colored revolution” and “soft power” technology. Their goal is to liquidate the statehood of undesirable countries, to undermine their sovereignty and replace their legally elected governments. That’s what happened in Iraq, in Libya and in Ukraine. Currently such action is observable in Venezuela. The Pentagon has started developing a completely new strategy of military action, which has already been called “Trojan Horse.” It’s based on the active use of the “fifth column protest potential” to destabilize the situation along with precision strikes on the most important targets.

There’s much to unpick in this admittedly lengthy quote. General Gerasimov and other Russian strategists, of course, follow U.S. thinking on conventional prompt global strikes (building weapons that would allow America to strike high-value targets anywhere in the world within an hour) and multi-domain operations (where adversaries are attacked simultaneously in multiple areas, such as cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum).

But the Russians’ biggest fears, though, relate to what they see as established U.S. policy – regime change – no matter how ambivalent President Donald Trump may be about the practice.

Gerasimov suspects Pentagon strategists are developing new military plans aimed at achieving that goal. Unlike the other terms the Russian general used in describing U.S. strategic concepts, though, “Trojan Horse” isn’t one used by his counterparts in Washington.
There is more.

US military officials have talked about "multi-domain" warfare in a way similar to what they used to call "combined arms operations."  Except the domain would include cyber attacks and other electronic measures.  The Russians are right that the US has no interest in a conventional war with Russia.  It does not want to conquer it and subjugate its populations.  Its real concern would be to have a Russia that leaves other countries alone and does not try to conquer them.

Russia is a much-reduced power since the collapse of the Soviet Union.  It was probably an overrated power then too.  While Putin likes to showcase new weapons, the country lacks the resources to develop and mass produce them.  It attempted to showcase some weapons in Syria but its aircraft carrier was a disaster and its stealth aircraft appears to be a one-off model which is not in production and probably could not match US advanced aircraft anyway. 

The Russian economy is closer to that of Texas than it is in competition with other major powers.  It doesn't have the resources to build advanced weapon systems on a scale that can compete with the US.


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