On Sunday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited the capital, Kyiv, where they met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
After the visit, the two ministers met with the press, during which Austin stated, among other things, that he hoped the war would weaken Russia as a great power in the future.
“We want to see Russia weaken to the point that the country can’t do the same thing it did with the invasion of Ukraine,” Austin said.
The astonishing statements received great reactions among experts.
– It doesn’t look good
“We are in a period of great Russian weakness, so in fact they have already done so,” retired Lieutenant General Arne Bord Dalhaug tells Dagbladet on Tuesday.
Until the beginning of the invasion, Dallhog had believed that Russia was seen as a great military power, but since then the country’s strategic position has been severely weakened.
– That image is completely lost, and now it does not look good for Russia.
Something he thinks the United States and Ukraine can benefit from.
I read Austin’s statement as if there was a great deal of agreement to go together against Russia to inflict a great military defeat on the country, which in turn could have significant negative effects on Moscow, says Dahlhaug.
May alter energy ratios
What countries can be affected by this?
“The weakening of Russia as a great power will affect the conflict in the Middle East and in Syria, because the president there is dependent on Russian support,” Dallhog says.
He also mentions the relationship between Azerbaijan and Armenia, where the war that ended in 2020 did not lead to a permanent agreement between the two countries.
Russia has so-called “peacekeeping forces” inside Azerbaijan, and it has been noted that the country has removed some for use in Ukraine. This could lead to Azerbaijan seeing Russia’s weakness and thus putting more pressure on Armenia, the team says.
It doesn’t end there either.
– Take a steeper pose
One of the most complex and unresolved conflicts in the world today is the dispute over the archipelago of the Southern Kurils Islands off Japan, which the Russians occupied after World War II.
Japan joined Western sanctions and condemned Russia. Dallhog says the country has taken a much tougher stance on the rights of the Russian occupiers to the islands.
So it is believed that the repercussions of this could be many, but it may affect security in Europe positively.
– Since the war went very badly, many countries believe that there are opportunities to amplify and take advantage of negative trends to inflict more losses on Russia.
Something Dalhaug sees in the recent reorganization of arms support and the increased amount they have been advised to come to Ukraine.
It may have a dual effect
Senior researcher at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment (FFI), Una Hackvog, believes that the US decision to deny Russia its so-called great power status, could have a two-sided effect.
– One thing is the already negative countries of Russia, but the other is the countries that have a difficult relationship with the United States. Russia can play on this, to bring opponents to the United States and the West.
– Do you think that harsh statements from the United States can lead to winning more supporters to Russia?
– I don’t know if they will get it, but not all countries in the world think that the United States and the West should be the only superpowers in the world, but who thinks it’s good that there are other voices.
A factor that can also affect the possibility of delivering weapons.
Not everyone is allowed to buy weapons from the West either, which is something Russia could benefit from by conducting a more liberal arms trade with such countries, Hackvog says.
Russia did not succeed
One Great power is defined As a country with great global political influence in particular.
The US defense secretary has not been clear about how they want to weaken Russia, except for promises to deliver more new weapons to Ukraine.
Russia has been a declining superpower since the Soviet era, says Hackvog, adding:
Economically and culturally, Russia today can only be considered a regional superpower. Militarily, Russia is also much weaker than the United States, NATO and possibly China as well. Russia’s status as a military superpower is largely due to the fact that the country possesses nuclear weapons. It is hard to imagine how the United States would be able to change that.
Secretary of State Austin has also stated that he does not want to give Russia the opportunity to rebuild the military capacity it has lost in the war so far.
How can Russia be weakened as a superpower? How is this done in practice?
– It is already being done with the sanctions imposed on Russia. Hackvog says it affects both the economy and the defense industry.
For example, the researcher mentions technology and materials that the state could not buy now as a result of the war.
– Russia is one of the few countries in the world that produces all defense equipment itself, it basically does not depend on the import of materials from other countries, and this, in turn, limits the amount of its impediment.
However, she does mention one painful point.
This is what they depend on
Although Russia produces most of the weapons systems itself, it relies on importing certain types of advanced technology, for example computer systems and microchips.
So far in the war, Russia has lost military capacity and more troops. Exactly how hard it was to determine.
If one thinks of weakening Russia as a military superpower, it is not certain that they will be able to prevent them from producing tanks, but through sanctions the country can be prevented from developing the most advanced weapons systems, she says, and explains in detail:
Russia still lags technologically behind the West in a number of areas, including precision weapons, robotics, and autonomous systems.
Russia is weak here
Hackfeg, along with Lieutenant General Dalhaug, believed that Russia had weakened itself in the long run.
– Both purely military with the loss of equipment and personnel, but also the economic aspect, which sets the country back at least ten years, says the researcher.
According to Hakvåg, what Russia needs to be able to contribute to economic growth is more foreign investment and a better political climate for innovation.
The influence of a great power revolves mainly around two things:
The fact that someone fears you — because you can do things, but also soft power — is that you have something to look forward to, says Hackfg.
– Russia was weak there. She adds that this war is an example of their attempt to gain influence through the use of brute force.
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