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ISW: Indicators suggest Russia preparing for large-scale conflict with NATO

Russia is preparing for a “large-scale conventional conflict with NATO,” with indicators suggesting a shorter timeline than previously anticipated by Western analysts, ISW reported.
Russian military
Russian military
ISW: Indicators suggest Russia preparing for large-scale conflict with NATO

Russian financial, economic, and military indicators suggest that Russia is preparing for a large-scale conventional conflict with NATO, likely on a shorter timeline than initially posited by some Western analysts, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in its latest report.

The recent classified German intelligence report indicates Russia’s potential military intentions towards NATO in the coming years, starting from 2026. The analysis suggests that Russia is preparing for a large-scale conflict with the West, indicated by the reorganization of its army, troop movements, and missile deployments in the western part of the country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s focus on appointing skilled and competent individuals to legislative bodies and his criticism of the Russian “elite” in his 29 February address to the Federation Council highlights his efforts to stabilize Russia’s long-term financial position amidst increased military spending, ISW said.

Russia’s attempts to circumvent international sanctions and the International Monetary Fund’s assessment of Russia’s GDP growth suggest a focus on securing long-term financial stability rather than addressing immediate financial concerns, the Institut suggested.

Polish President Andrzej Duda and Danish Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen have echoed concerns about Russia’s accelerated preparations for a potential attack on a NATO country, with timelines ranging from 2026 to 2027. ISW suggests that these preparations are part of Russia’s financial and domestic efforts for a potential future large-scale conflict with NATO.

The report also highlights ongoing Russian military reforms, including the formation of the Dnepr River Flotilla and efforts to bolster Russia’s conventional military capabilities.

“The Dnepr River Flotilla is the historical name of various special military river units that were active during the Russo-Turkish wars in 1735-1739 and 1787-1792, the Russian Civil War, and World War II, but this is the first time that Russian military officials have confirmed the formation of the Dnepr River Flotilla in relation to the ongoing war in Ukraine,” the report reads.

According to ISW, these reforms are more likely intended to prepare for a potential conventional war with NATO rather than the current war in Ukraine.

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