The Russian high command has long wanted to have a domestic crowd control role, rather than as has been the case in recent years standing by as the FSB and the interior ministry gain influence in the Kremlin because of what they do in that regard, Aleksandr Golts says.
Now, General Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the Russian General Staff, has provided a justification for such a role, Golts says, a supposed American plan to use Russian opposition groups as part of its military strategy, an approach that justifies the use of the Russian military against them.
In an article entitled “Why the General Staff is Preparing to Fight with the Russian Opposition,” the independent military analyst argues that “American strategists are working on a new strategy of conducting military action under the code name, ‘Trojan Horse,’” a strategy involving “the active use of the protest potential of ‘a fifth column’ for destabilizing opponents.”
Obviously, Gerasimov continues, the military as part of its “strategy of active defense” must be involved in “neutralizing” this threat to the security of the state, an argument that invokes a supposed US strategy as the basis for doing what the Russian military has long wanted to do, serving as a force for domestic control as well as foreign action.
Since 2013, Gerasimov has argued that “there are no essential differences between a period of open war and times of peace.” In the second case, “confrontation is carried out by non-military means, with the aid of secret and information operations.” That justified Russia’s various hybrid wars.
Now the chief of the general staff has taken the next step and provided what he sees as an unanswerable reason for the Russian military to be deployed against opposition elements in Russia in order to protect the country’s national security. And that this is his primary purpose is shown by one telling detail.
Gerasimov misquotes the US general as far as this new American strategy is concerned, even going so far as to claim that the American has said things he did not say, Golts continues. Indeed, he suggests, this invention was “no accident” but rather an effort to “link potential protest with immediate military aggression.”
A decade ago, Makhmut Gareyev, the president of the Academy of Military Sciences, “well-known for his unique ability to tell which way the wind is blowing,” suddenly began to talk about the need “to find a military answer to non-military threats.” Gerasimov has taken the next step.
Because the Kremlin so fears color revolutions, it was perhaps only a matter of time before it would be fated to hear about “the military dimension” of such popular actions. As Golts points out, the latest version of the Russian Military Doctrine (2014) does speak of popular uprisings as “a new form of military action.”
Gerasimov builds on that. His speech last week thus represents but the latest attempt to tie together “’military’ and ‘non-military’ methods” of defense. The innovation is that he suggests any such protests won’t simply be the work of hostile special services but will be accompanied by the use of precisely targetable weaponry.
“The logic is clear,” Golts continues. “If an enemy could go to the point of coordinating protest actions with air strikes, then the General Staff must develop plans to counter this combination” – and those plans would include “the use of forces against the people on the streets of Russian cities.”
That represents another step to what the General Staff has long wanted, the independent Moscow military analyst says, one that gives them a new high-profile role but also one that sets them on the path to conflict not only with the provisions of the Russian Constitution but also with the FSB and interior ministry who have long viewed taking such action as their prerogative.
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