View Post

Red Sparrow – a movie about US-Russia relations

In Blog, English by Hanna GriningerLeave a Comment

SPOILER ALERT: This text is a reflection on the 2018 spy thriller Red Sparrow. If you haven’t seen it yet, you might want to read on after a trip to the movies. You may ask what a racy flick has to do with current political affairs, because, of course, it is fiction and meant to entertain rather than educate. That notwithstanding, it can tell us a lot about stereotypes, moral perceptions of right and wrong and about who is the good and the bad guys. Now don’t get me wrong; I think that Red Sparrow is an entertaining movie which I enjoyed watching. Alas, finding it hard to switch off the philologist and security studies researcher, I just couldn’t ignore the socio-political context and stop analyzing it from a humanities point of view.

View Post

Science, Science, and Science – Gerasimov’s 2018 speech

In Blog, English by Christoph BilbanLeave a Comment

Scientific hotspots and an old story Valery Gerasimov held his first speech at the yearly assembly of the Russian Academy of Military Sciences five years ago. It soon became (in)famous as the “Gerasimov doctrine” (see also my comment here), and only recently Mark Galeotti, the inventor of the term, admitted he consciously mislabeled his blog post in 2014 when looking for a catchy title. Some weeks ago, the Voenno-Promyshlenny Kur’er (Military-Industrial Courier) once again featured a speech of Gerasimov’s, in an article called “Scientific Hotspots.” While this marks the first time that it wasn’t Gerasimov himself who authored the transcript, it nonetheless resembles a genuine piece of his thinking. Unsurprisingly, his description of the global security situation suits Russia’s siege mentality.

View Post

The Syrian conflict’s fallout in Lebanon – and Hezbollah’s role in the quagmire

In Blog by David FussiLeave a Comment

The Syrian civil war affects Lebanon in a myriad of ways, and ever since the outbreak of the conflict in 2011, the security situation in parts of the country deteriorated decisively . The Lebanese state was challenged the most in two hotspots: Tripoli, the second largest city, where radical groups took over parts of town for a few months, and the northern Bekaa Valley on the border to Syria, where ISIS and similar groups held out for more than three years. In summer 2017, Hezbollah took a strong position against these Syrian militias in Lebanon and launched a large scale offensive to regain state monopoly in the border region. The article argues that this takeover and execution of state functions is seen very controversial in Lebanon and abroad, especially because Hezbollah is heavily dependent on its protector Iran.

View Post

Comeback of Deterrence – An Austrian Review of BALTDEFCOL Conference 2018

In Blog, Conference Review, English by Christoph BilbanLeave a Comment

The fourth annual Baltic Defence College conference on Russia took place in Tartu, Estonia from March 8th to 9th. While a lot of the talks were on topics well covered in recent literature and commentaries, there were some strikingly new points as well. For an “outsider” from the peaceful heart of Europe – Austria – the rhetoric encountered on the panels as well as during the breaks, seemed rather belligerent. However, the threat to the Baltic states is real, but not likely. Hence deterrence is the name of the game now for the Baltic armed forces as well as for NATO. Since the NATO summit in Wales in 2014 the term “deterrence” experienced a revival in official documents and statements. While deterrence is seen as the way to mitigate the security risks posed by Russia to this region., RAND Corp in a recent study pointed out that NATO is vastly outgunned on its eastern flank. With just four battlegroups of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence permanently present in the area, force levels prevent a credible deterrence by denial. Nowadays, the EFP’s role is thus akin to a tripwire put in place to trigger Article 5. It was noteworthy then that conference …

View Post

For domestic use only

In Blog, English by Bernhard VölklLeave a Comment

Vladimir Putin’s new nuclear weapons are aimed at the March 18th elections – and Washington’s revised nuclear posture Dwarfed by the launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) on the screens behind him, Russian president Vladimir Putin gave his 14th state of the union address on March 1st. The two hour long televised speech started with the promise of a better future and ended with the threat of nuclear Armageddon. Three weeks ahead of presidential elections, Mr Putin need not fear for his job: In a carefully vetted field of contenders whom he declined to debate on TV, he is all but sure to come out on top. But he also knows that that with an economy fresh out of recession, growing at just 2% in 2017 and stagnation ahead, he has little to offer to ordinary Russians. Their standard of living has not improved in a long time, and the president’s promise of a 50% increase in GDP over the next six years must have seemed like mockery to some. An hour into the address, the main event of his subdued election campaign, the message switched to defiance, and things took a far darker turn.