Russia is a world war power – with a disturbing arsenal of tactics and weapons led by President Vladimir Putin. Six strategic decisions show how Putin’s warfare differs from Stalin’s.

The Russian general and military strategist Georgij S. Isserson (1898-1976) is still considered the great theoretician of the Russian military. In 1936 he warned that every ongoing war should be seen as a training camp and research laboratory for the next one:

“Every historical period is fraught with a new form of warfare.”

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Hardly any country in the world, except perhaps the USA, has fought more wars than Russia in the past 100 years. After the victorious end of the Second World War, things continued smoothly for the Russian army – with the Korean War, the suppression of the uprisings in Prague and Budapest, the wars in Angola and Afghanistan, the two Chechen campaigns, the Georgian War, the operations in… former Yugoslavia, in today’s Syria and finally the attack on Ukraine.

It is no exaggeration to say: Russia is a world war power.

All of these wars were and are accompanied by war specialists and military theorists, so that the style of warfare on the Russian side has constantly changed and refined. A publication by the Modern War Institute at the US Military Academy West Point comes to a conclusion that warlord Putin can only understand as praise:

“Despite the numerous and obvious deficiencies that the Russian armed forces exhibit in practice, at the conceptual level they are even ahead of their time.”

There are primarily six strategic decisions that distinguish Putin’s conduct of war from the conduct of war by the Red Army during Stalin’s time:

Man against man became man against machine. It is drone combat that could decide the war of the future. The range ranges from drones that fit in the palm of your hand to drones the size of small airplanes that are loaded with missiles.

At the beginning of May, the Ukrainian government announced that it wanted to buy an additional 300,000 drones in order to be able to counter the Russian drone war. Only on television is the Russian war one of the tank columns.

People along the 2,600 km long border between Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Finland, Norway and the Russian Federation have long felt threatened by the massiveness of Putin’s drone arsenal. The result: The six countries have now agreed to install a “drone wall”, i.e. an intelligent air force that listens to a joint command.

Lithuanian Minister of the Interior Agnė Bilotaitė:

“This is a whole new thing to do to protect our borders.”

At home, Putin relies on restricting access to free information; outside, he uses media freedom to influence public opinion and politics in favor of Russia’s economic and geostrategic interests.

According to a study published in February this year by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), the aim of Russian propaganda is to undermine the West’s solidarity with Ukraine. Germany is considered a key destination here. The aim is to deliberately stir up discontent about the costs of war in the country of the hard-working and thrifty.

According to the ISD, the Russian state media have established themselves as a trustworthy source in a variety of fringe groups – right-wing extremists, left-wing extremists, conspiracy groups such as the “lateral thinkers” – and are using these groups to advance their propaganda and social polarization.

Putin’s armory includes not only tanks, aircraft and artillery pieces, but also gas, oil and grain. Last year, Russia confirmed its contract with Hungary for additional gas deliveries. A 15-year contract has been in place since 2021 that secures the country 4.5 billion cubic meters of gas per year from Russia.

The buyer shows his gratitude by constantly shooting across the EU and only offering words of praise for Putin:

“Hungary never wanted a confrontation with Russia. Hungary has always strived to expand contacts.”

By supplying Western artillery to Ukraine, Ukraine was able to acquire the ability to launch targeted and massive attacks on Russian bases. The Russian army immediately adjusted its tactics and is now relying on smaller troop sizes.

Ukraine is now being attacked on three front sectors. The Modern War Institute report states:

“Tactical combat will be even more destructive than in the past and will be characterized by fragmented or non-linear combat. The front line will disappear.”

Migration from Africa and the Middle East is putting all European countries under cultural and social stress. Russia knows the situation and is exacerbating it.

Asylum seekers are specifically trafficked into the EU via Belarus and Poland. This emerges from the federal police reports. The aim is to destabilize Europe.

The political scientist and professor at the University of the Bundeswehr in Munich, Carlo Masala, says:

“Hunger, flight, expulsion – these are all part of Russia’s warfare to increase social tensions in our societies and to put pressure on the government not to support Ukraine as strongly as it currently does.”

At the beginning of the year, Putin once again warned his opponents at the State of the Nation address. If Western supporters continue to expand their deliveries to Ukraine, the Kremlin chief said, this would risk a “conflict with nuclear weapons, which would mean the destruction of the entire civilization.”

With 5,889 nuclear warheads, Russia has the largest nuclear weapons arsenal in the world, ahead of the USA (5,244), and the Kremlin also wants to use this for communication purposes. The term “brinkmanship”, i.e. politics on the edge of the abyss, became commonplace during the Cold War.

The Russian side regularly achieves success in the Western media and also in the mind of the German Chancellor.

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Conclusion: Putin is a warmonger, it is often said. This description may be correct in a much broader sense than many people think. Putin is pushing war – technologically, strategically and economically – into a new totality. The word “art of war” is on the index in the West – and has a good ring to it in Moscow.