The Seven Deadly Sins of Russia Analysis

The Seven Deadly Sins of Russia Analysis

As the clock counts down to the end of another tumultuous and difficult year of dealing with Russia, the natural instinct is to look back on the battles and surprises of 2015 with an eye to making predictions for the coming year. There is material aplenty: the battle of Debaltseve, Moscow’s operations in Syria, a crisis with Turkey that still burns bright. A new year offers new opportunities for prognostication: Where will Russia strike next? What is Putin thinking? What are the likely flashpoints of 2016? Instead of this traditional exercise, Russia experts should reflect on a year of discussions, briefings, round tables, merciless PowerPoint decks about hybrid war, and occasional spats in the virtual pages of outlets like War on the Rocks. What are the nagging questions, questionable assumptions, and unknowns that beset the analytical and policymaking community? Experts and policymakers who deal with Russia are living in a high-tempo environment, keeping pace with military interventions, crises, and the frequent twists in bilateral relations. However, in any such endeavor, it is possible to learn lessons that are not true. This is my own attempt at presenting a list of questionable bits of analysis and assumptions that exist within the community.

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