‘War’ vs ‘Conflict’: changing Russian perceptions between the military and the civilian security establishment

Discussion of Russian notions of future warfare tend, for understandable reasons, to focus on the debates within the military, which are then embodied in doctrine, tactics and procurement decisions. These debates are important, but also much more accessible, given the degree to which they are played out and arbitrated within the military press. However, there is an intertwined, if much less accessible debate within the civilian national security establishment – notably the intelligence services and the Security Council secretariat – which is at least of equal importance. While informed by the defence establishment’s debate and sharing many of its assumptions, it is different, not least in its greater willingness to think in terms of open-ended and non-military conflicts, in which over warfighting may play a limited, episodic or essentially theatrical role. In this presentation, Dr Galeotti will address both sets of perceptions and consider the practical and political implications of this divide within Kremlin thinking on warfare.

Dr Mark Galeotti is CEO of the consultancy Mayak Intelligence as well as an Honorary Professor at University College London School of Slavonic and East European Studies. He is also a senior research associate with RUSI, the Council on Geostrategy and the Institute of International Relations Prague. A widely published specialist on Russian security issues, Dr Galeotti has taught, researched, and written in the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia, the Czech Republic and Italy. Educated at Cambridge University and the London School of Economics, he has been a senior research fellow at the FCO, head of the history department at Keele University, professor of global affairs at New York University, head of the IIR Prague’s Centre for European Security, and a visiting faculty member at Rutgers-Newark (USA), MGIMO (Russia), and Charles University (Czech Republic). His most recent books include The Weaponisation of Everything (Yale, 2022), Russian Political War (Routledge, 2020) and The Vory (Yale, 2018).