Synopsis: Mr. Russell G. J. Breighner spoke on “Putin’s Capability for Power Projection: Does China have his back?” To frame this issue, he considered four main issues: strategic upgrades, expansion, sanctions, and ultimate goals. The strategic upgrades are necessary because most of their strategic systems were built in the 1990s. Presently, the money for these upgrades are being taken from the health sector of their budget. Also, some in Russia want to use external sources to help them with these upgrades, but some do not want external sources participating in these upgrades. The modernizations and upgrades should be 70% completed by 2017.
The problems from the situation in the Ukraine were not initially on Putin’s agenda and they are causing problems for his power projections and weapon modernization because of the sanctions imposed by the West. These sanctions will prevent Russia’s income from climbing, eliminate the right-of-way for some gas pipelines, reduce EU gas imports, and make business contracts more difficult to implement. Russian behavior toward the Ukraine has met with mixed reactions from its allies and made some countries more susceptible to joining the EU or NATO, which is now fully aware of what must be done to counter this Russian threat.
Russia has indicated that it wants to expand in the Far East and Mediterranean. Evidence of this is the Russia-China naval exercise in 2014, Russian Far East Commander’s forecast for Russian garrisons on Japanese-claimed Island by 2017, Chinese lands taken by Russia, and Chinese-Russian Taiwan Campaign. Although China has supported Russia in many situations, most experts feel that China will not continue to play second fiddle to Russia. Mr. Breighner stated Putin wanted to return Russia to its previous role as a major power, prevent expansion by NATO and the EU, to establish a buffer zone between Russia and the West, and eliminate the inferiority complex Russia has toward the United States.
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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