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Russian air force helicopters fly over Red Square during a Victory Day parade, which commemorates the 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany, Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2014 (AP photo by Denis Tyrin).

Hybrid Power: The Limits of Russia’s Military Resurgence

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Russia’s military has experienced a remarkable recovery during the past decade. This is most evident in the success of Russia’s swift occupation of Crimea last year and ongoing support for separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. Equally impressive, if less visible, is the rebound of the country’s military-industrial complex, referred to by the Russian initials VPK, which suffered heavily from the break-up of the Soviet Union’s integrated defense industries and the Russian government’s budgetary difficulties during the 1990s.

In its worst years, under former President Boris Yeltsin, the VPK was unable to manufacture more than a few weapons systems each year. Many of these were sold abroad to generate export revenue. Russia’s shipyards struggled to maintain and modernize Soviet-era vessels while mothballing plans to build new capital ships. Many defense firms either converted to civilian production or went out of business. ...

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