NewsISW report: Russia ramps up for potential war with NATO

ISW report: Russia ramps up for potential war with NATO

ISW: Russia is preparing for war with NATO
ISW: Russia is preparing for war with NATO
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7:03 AM EDT, March 21, 2024

The American Institute for War Studies (ISW), in its latest report, suggests that Russia is gearing up for a large-scale conventional war with NATO. Various financial, economic, and military signals support this claim.

ISW believes that Russian efforts to stabilize the economy and finances are likely in preparation for a possible confrontation with NATO, and not merely for the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The think tank's analysts have observed that Russia is moving towards conflict with NATO faster than some Western analysts previously anticipated. They highlight several financial, economic, and military developments corroborating this view.

According to the analysts, the Russian military is not only continuing its restructuring to support the conflict in Ukraine but is also enhancing its conventional capabilities in preparation for a potential large-scale conflict with NATO.

ISW points out that Vladimir Putin, referred to here as the dictator of Russia, criticized existing "orders" in a meeting with political faction leaders in the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament.

Russia's financial situation not as dire as expected

ISW suggests that Putin's efforts likely focus on stabilizing the financial situation, indicating that achieving long-term stability will involve tough measures against influential figures in big industry.

The think tank notes Russia is not on the brink of an immediate financial crisis. The significant change in budget policy is an increase in military spending, indicating a long-term strategy for financial security.

Referencing IMF forecasts, ISW highlights that the Russian economy is expected to grow by 2.6 percent in 2024.

ISW also emphasizes a statement from Poland's President Andrzej Duda in a CNBC interview on March 20, mentioning Putin's intensified efforts to pivot the Russian economy towards military readiness, potentially targeting NATO in 2026-2027.

The think tank recalls the Danish Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen's warning on February 9 that Russia could attempt to strike a NATO country within three to five years.

The timeline for Russia to enhance its military capabilities will hinge on the financial investments Putin decides to make in the armed forces.

ISW concludes that, without another plausible rationale for Putin's willingness to upset relations with key industry players and amidst continuous announcements of military expansion, Putin is likely aiming to solidify the economy and finance as groundwork for a potential large-scale conflict with NATO, rather than merely extending the conflict in Ukraine.

ISW scrutinizes Russia's strategic moves

ISW also points to a statement from Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, who announced a boost in Russia's conventional force capabilities, including the formation of an army corps and motorized rifle divisions.

Shoigu revealed plans to establish two general armies, 14 divisions, and 16 brigades by the end of 2024.

ISW observes that Russia's war preparedness is further indicated by military personnel changes initiated by Shoigu, such as appointing General Andrey Bulyga as Deputy Minister of Defense for Logistics.

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