This policy-oriented work evaluates Russian civil-military relations with a focus on their development under Vladimir Putin. This essay examines how key events and actors have shaped civil-military relations in the context of overarching structural limitations on reform related to economic performance, institutionalized knowledge and geopolitical competition. The disparity between the military’s preferred anti-Western security policy, Russia’s economic state, and the goals of civil politicians led to the dereliction of the Russian military throughout the 1990s and early-2000s. Only with Vladimir Putin’s consolidation of political power, were these three factors slowly brought into greater alignment, thus allowing for meaningful reform of the military and the streamlining of civil-military relations. Now, given increased economic and political hardships for Russia, Putin will once again need to decide on the future direction of military reform.



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