Vae Victors: The Russian Army Pays for the Lessons of the Georgian War

Report - External Series

Baev, Pavel K. (2008) Vae Victors: The Russian Army Pays for the Lessons of the Georgian War, PONARS Eurasia Policy Memos, 46. Washington, DC.

The issue of who is actually learning these lessons, however, is directly related to another question : who was actually in charge of the war?

There are still many pieces absent from this puzzle of the “peace-enforcement”/“integrity-restoring” battle, but those party to the conflict have already drawn their conclusions and begun to implement lessons.

The sum total of these contradictions is tall enough to predict that current military policy will undergo significant change in the near future; at the same time, the uncertain environment of a massive economic crisis makes it impossible to establish in what direction the changes will go. One option involves restoring the integrity of the chain of command by returning Putin to the position of president and commander-in-chief, which would make it possible to calm down the top brass by reversing some painful decisions while maintaining a certain momentum in military reform. A more worrisome perspective is that growing tensions inside Putin’s system of power, thrown into disarray by the crisis, might create the need for a new ”victory,” while the military would be eager to reverse reforms by means of a new war. In this case, Georgia would again present itself as the most attractive target.

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