DIAA member Mr. Russell G. J. Breighner, a Russian/Soviet Union expert, spoke about Putin’s agenda for Russian military resurgence and his objectives in Ukraine. Breighner postulates that Putin wants to rebuild Russia in the Soviet mold - both economically and politically, and that Moscow wants Ukraine to be at least a defacto province of Russia. Breighner points out that economically Russia is far from sound, exemplified by the steady out-flow of the Ruble from Russia. This situation leads him to question whether the military activity we are seeing on the Ukrainian frontier is a means to deflect attention from Russia’s economic woes. Or is it a ploy to gain access to valuable Ukrainian industries? Since “Putin is no economist” Breighner thinks the likelihood of him coming up with the right political decisions to correct Russian economic woes is slim. The 44% military build-up called for in Putin’s overall agenda is actually a large part of Russia’s economic failing and is not sustainable. Russia has initiated a well orchestrated plan to keep the Ukrainian situation on the front burner. Although Russia entered into negotiations with the U.S. and the European Union to mediate the situation, Breighner suggests that it is only a ploy to buy time to improve its military posture in the region. Breighner further suggests that preventing the 25 May elections from occurring in Ukraine is Moscow’s primary short term goal. To stabilize the Ukrainian situation the U.S., the EU, Japan and the World Bank have promised substantial amounts of financial support; some funds with conditions. Moscow’s promises of support to the ailing Crimean economy has generated support among ethnic Russians in the Eastern Ukraine. It is easy to understand why the U.S. believes that unrest in the Eastern Ukraine is result of trouble-making by Russian Special Forces. There are those who believe the use of force by Ukrainian authorities to put down the unrest will be used as a pretext for Russian aggression to protect minority Russian populations and the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea. Whilethesituationispresently a regional crisis it could escalate to other former Soviet Union countries.The Russian military exercises held in Kaliningrad portray offensive action against Poland and the Baltics, and include a scenario calling for the use of nuclear weapons against Warsaw. Russ will continue his discussion on Putin, at the 17 June DIFORUM, with emphasis on his power base at home and military upgrades. Also, he will briefly discuss Putin’s actions in Latin America, Russian issues with China, and an historical comparison of “Russia vs America”, a major factor in the Russian inferiority complex.
BIO: Mr. Breighner extensive Russian expertise was gained from a wide variety of assignments involving Russia and his graduate program in Russian Studies from Georgetown University. Some of these assignment were: (1) working on Soviet Strategy and Doctrine, (2) investigating Soviet Inland Waterways and Ports, and (3) drafting a chapter for the largest NIE (over 400 pages) ever: “ Soviet Military Research and Development.” He received a personal note of congratulations from the NIC Chairman, Robert Gates. For years, he chaired the Threat Advanced Steering Group for the Joint Cruise Missile Program Office. A further example of his understanding of complex weapon system was demonstrated when he advised Senator Warner that the use of Electromagnetic weapons would degrade the Serbian electrical and electronic systems. This use reduced the Serbian power by 70% in some cases. For this he received the Senatorial Republican Medal of Freedom. His undergraduate degree in Russian Language and Literature is from the University of Maryland. He has a PhD (ABD) in Russian Studies from Georgetown University and is the author of several books
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