Secretary of State John Kerry has accused Russia of behaving in a “19th-century fashion” because of its annexation of Crimea.
But Western experts who have followed the success of Russian forces in carrying out President Vladimir V. Putin’s policy in Crimea and eastern Ukraine have come to a different conclusion about Russian military strategy. They see a military disparaged for its decline since the fall of the Soviet Union skillfully employing 21st-century tactics that combine cyberwarfare, an energetic information campaign and the use of highly trained special operation troops to seize the initiative from the West.
“It is a significant shift in how Russian ground forces approach a problem,” said James G. Stavridis, the retired admiral and former NATO commander [and current Dean of The Fletcher School, Tufts University]. “They have played their hand of cards with finesse.”…
… Admiral Stavridis agreed that Russia’s strategy would be most effective when employed against a nation with a large number of sympathizers. But he said that Russia’s deft use of cyberwarfare, special forces and conventional troops was a development that NATO needed to study and factor into its planning.
“In all of those areas they have raised their game, and they have integrated them quite capably,” he said. “And I think that has utility no matter where you are operating in the world.”
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