chapter  5
9 Pages

Political war in theory

WithMark Galeotti

This chapter explains why outside perceptions of Russian strategy have been shaped disproportionately by the military’s debates. Russia, like the Soviet Union, has a relatively powerful, well-resourced and self-confident military. The Russian military talk a great deal about what they do, what they want to be able to do and how they expect to do it. While the ministry and the General Staff play an important role in formulating military plans, policy reflects wider political calculations. Political warfare is the logical application of Carl von Clausewitz’s doctrine in time of peace. The essence of political warfare is that it is planned and the means employed to carry it on are coordinated. Nikolai Patrushev learnt his trade as a spy, built his career on corruption and behind-the-scenes politicking, and forged a presidency through propaganda and hype, Vladimir Putin likewise seems to have seen the scope for ‘political war’ rooted in Soviet practices.