Arms Control and Russia’s Global Strategy After the INF Treaty
This is a revised, updated version of a forthcoming article in the journal European Defense & Strategy entitled “Russian Nuclear Strategy After the INF Treaty”
The INF treaty regime collapsed due to Russian cheating. Although China’s massive buildup of intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles played no small role in galvanizing U.S. opinion and transforming international security, Russia’s deliberate deployment of up to 100 of the Novator or 9M729 missiles furnished a decisive trigger for Washington to exercise its right of withdrawal. Indeed, Moscow has deployed four battalions of this missile, thus threatening both European and Asian targets. Even worse, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics recently commented that Latvia knew Russia was violating the treaty long before Washington decided to withdraw. Latvia and the U.S. also knew and discussed the fact that Moscow had already targeted the Baltic States with four different types of missiles banned under the INF treaty and deployed in Kaliningrad and European Russia. In other words, even if one believes, as some evidence has it that Russia produces nuclear weapons in droves simply because that is what its defense sector can reliably do, there was and is a strategy behind the deployment of these and presumably other nuclear weapons which remain the priority procurement for the Russian military.
So while commentators have expressed alarm that the demise of this treaty regime could leave both Moscow and Washington bereft of an arms control “architecture” the fact is Moscow deliberately and with ulterior strategic objectives in mind violated this treaty and has possibly also violated the New START Treaty even though the State Department claims it is in compliance with it. In other words, the blame for destroying this architecture resides in Moscow2, not Washington. These facts raise the issue of what kind of architecture there can be if one side persistently violates all the treaties it has negotiated? Indeed, Russian Ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov has now admitted that Russia’s new strategic weapons do not come under the NEW START Treaty’s rubric. That is, they circumvent the treaty and will not be discussed in any new treaty negotiation, thereby demonstrating the insufficiencies of the NEW START TREATY. Simultaneously Secretary of State Pompeo also revealed that these fears of no arms control architecture should be allayed as preliminary discussions have begun with Russia on a new arms control treaty when this treaty expires in 2021. In fact, President Trump has ordered his staff to press for new arms control agreements with Russia and China. Predictably Russia has responded by saying that such proposals are not serious while China has remained officially silent. Thus we are negotiating with a power whose reputation for compliance is dubious at best and who may have violated the original treaty and definitely circumvented that treaty whose subsequent renewal is the issue under discussion.
Worse yet it appears that Moscow is now carrying Beijing's water for it on arms control. China has consistently remained a "free rider" on arms control issues and is certainly not prepared to enter into serious nuclear negotiations that would force it to reveal its true capabilities, submit them to verification and also designate some for demolition under the treaty. Meanwhile, China is steadily building up its land, sea, and air-based nuclear capabilities to hit the U.S. and other targets while nobody knows precisely what China's capabilities are. Since Russia previously stated that in any arms control negotiation after the New START Treaty China must be at the table (clearly due to its concerns about Chinese nuclear capabilities and intentions), Moscow's silence about China and attempt to shield its current weapons from any negotiation with the U.S. suggests several negative trends in Russian policy. One is a growing military alliance (albeit an informal one) directed against the U.S. Second is the increasing appearance that Russia is seriously entertaining nuclear war-fighting scenarios of what it believes will be a limited nuclear war.
Thus the veteran British expert on the Russian military, Charles J. Dick, has observed that whereas during the Cold War the Soviet military was in practice constrained from attacking Europe due to its understanding of the catastrophic consequences of attacking Europe and NATO, today it is by no means clear that this constraint still exists. Indeed, he asks, "Why would Russia invest considerable resources in creating offensive and defensive capabilities for the conduct of nuclear war if it were not prepared, or even did not intend to do so? Is this part of a far-sighted comprehensive preparation for war, or is it part of an influence operation to deter and intimidate political enemies?" And we should understand that his question does not mean that these two options are mutually exclusive. Quite the opposite may, in fact, be the case, namely that Russia is both preparing for nuclear war and simultaneously conducting perception management or influence operations. Indeed, as Dick points out whatever Moscow's intent may be, its Army is now apparently capable of conducting large-scale operations against our allies and possesses aa considerably reinforced nuclear deterrent to support those operations.
Equally if not more alarming is the fact that, in December 2017, Bill Gertz reported, “Russia is aggressively building up its nuclear forces and is expected to deploy a total force of 8,000 warheads by 2026 along with modernizing deep underground bunkers, according to Pentagon officials. The 8,000 warheads will include both large strategic warheads and thousands of new low-yield and very low-yield warheads to circumvent arms treaty limits and support Moscow’s new doctrine of using nuclear arms early in any conflict.” This is quite plausible. Existing Russian programs can support the deployment of 8,000 or more nuclear weapons with an emphasis on either strategic or non-strategic (tactical) nuclear weapons or both.
Moreover, during 2018 and 2019, President Putin has regularly trumpeted the virtues and capabilities of new nuclear weapons that Russia is designing. In his statements, it is crystal clear that he is threatening both the U.S. and NATO. Indeed, Russian officials have long advocated nuclear weapons that can overcome or circumvent the U.S. missile defense system to which they have ascribed truly magical powers in spite of dozens of briefings specifying its real capabilities and analyses by reputable Russian experts. These new weapons include hypersonic, multi-warhead ICBM, laser, underwater autonomous, nuclear-powered cruise missiles, air defense systems with an anti-satellite potential (ASAT), land-based and ship-based cruise missiles, not to mention conventional weapons like the SU-57 Fighter, etc.
Furthermore, the ground forces now filed 11 brigades, each carrying 12 Iskander-M missile launchers with a range of 400-500 KM and capable of delivering conventional, nuclear, or fuel-air warheads. These are also supplemented by comparable air and sea-based missiles, e.g. the Kalibr’ cruise missile. Thus, all in all, Moscow is now building between 20-23 short, intermediate and long-range nuclear weapons comprising both countervalue and counterforce projects. And these are part of a long-term project, discerned long ago by U.S. intelligence agencies to build a fleet of nuclear weapons tailored to every conceivable kind of contingency and range. Indeed, Putin recently confirmed this by referring to the fact that the buildup of nuclear missiles began in 2004 if not earlier. So we are dealing with a long-term strategic policy here, not mindless missile building.
Recently General Paul Selva (USAF) Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, observed that Russia is also developing new tactical nuclear weapons to tailor its forces to virtually any contingency. And that is only one of over 20 Russian programs currently underway to manufacture and deploy nuclear weapons, e.g. a heavy ICBM, new bombers, new SLBMS, and missile submarines. Moreover, given current procurement plans and counting rules under the New START Treaty, Russia could actually increase its nuclear weapons and still comply with that treaty. Finally, General John Hyten (USAF), Commander in chief of US STRATCOM, has testified that Russian weapons are being built to circumvent the NEW START TREATY, obviously a view at odds with that of the State Department, but probably more accurate given Antonov’s admission which amounts to a confirmation. All these developments impel us to examine what Russian nuclear strategy really is, especially as it appears to be developing what arguably is an excessively unbalanced and nuclear-heavy military. For as Charles Dick has recently written,
Why would Russia invest considerable resources in creating offensive e and defensive capabilities for the conduct of nuclear war if it was not prepared, or even did not intend, to do so? Is this part of a far-sighted, comprehensive preparation for war, or is it a part of an influence operation to deter and intimidate political enemies?
In posing this question, however, Dick omits the possibility that Russian strategy might comprise both the influence and deterrence operation on the one hand and the preparation for war or conflict on the other. Arguably this is the real answer, and this essay attempts to substantiate this proposition.
Russia’s Nuclear Strategy
If we try to think with Moscow, as proper analysis of Russian strategy requires, today’s emphasis (not to mention during the Soviet period) makes considerable sense. If a regime, overwhelmingly cognizant of its own domestic illegitimacy and possessing an obsession with having an acknowledged great power status, believes that for years stronger alliances (i.e. NATO) and the strongest power in the world are bent on overthrowing it than a permanent posture of being in a state of siege and relying on nuclear weapons to overcome conventional inferiorities makes sense. This is the well-known Russian Weltanschauung even though it exists largely in the fevered minds of Russia’s leaders, not Western ones. And, of course, this also resembles in many ways Pakistan and North Korea’s reasons for building nuclear weapons, as well as Israel’s original situation when its presumed program began in the 1950s.
But beyond these well-known facts, nuclear weapons serve multiple purposes for Moscow. Russian doctrine advertises the deterrent purpose of its nuclear weapons and if NATO attacked first, especially if targeted nuclear command and control, we could reasonably expect to see a retaliatory first strike. But deterrence only begins here. Russia’s ability to intervene in neighboring states and its coercive diplomacy towards them and NATO “rests upon its nuclear arsenal, as well as on the newest conventional weapons, and is used for both defensive and offensive purposes.” Thus deterrence does not stop at deterring a NATO attack but rather includes Russia’s interventions in what has been called the gray zone, e.g. its original attack on Crimea and the Donbas, its intervention in Syria. Thus the tailored nuclear arsenal replete with capabilities that can be employed at all levels and ranges of conflict and the capacity to inflict what Moscow calls calibrated damage upon an enemy that will compel him to stop hostilities (Zadannaya Ushcherb’) is automatically invoked whenever Moscow intervenes abroad to deter any U.S. and/or NATO response.
Russian nuclear weapons, therefore, are part of what Putin has called an asymmetrical strategy. And defenders of Russian policy, for example, Andrei Tsygankov, explicitly invoke this kind of strategy. Thus he writes that "It seems that a major factor in understanding the present and future global transition processes will be a global rethinking of (asymmetric) resources available to international actors, ideas and perceptions of the leaders of major powers, and the nature of internal political processes." Though he omits nuclear weapons here, it is quite clear that they, like cyber capabilities, serve that purpose.
Nuclear weapons consequently serve a much broader strategic need than deterring real or potential conventional or nuclear strikes. As Dmitry Adamsky observes, "The nuclear component is an inseparable part of Russian operational art that cannot be analyzed as a stand-alone issue." This is because it abets Russian conventional threats and aggression through the deterrence of adversaries' counteraction to that aggression. Similarly, Major Amos C. Fox (USA) writes that the strategic defense provided by Russian nuclear weapons and its IADS facilitate the attainment of all of Russia’s conventional warfare objectives: deterring NATO expansion into Russia’s historic sphere of influence, retaining regional hegemony in Eurasia, and demonstrating improvements to Russian military capabilities. Beyond that,
The presence of nuclear weapons is perhaps the first critical component for modern hybrid warfare. Nuclear weapons provide insurance against a massive ground response to an incremental limited war. The offensive nation that possesses nuclear weapons knows that the adversary or its allies will not likely commit large ground forces to a conflict for fear of the aggressor employing those weapons against ground [or naval-SB] forces. This dynamic emboldens the aggressor nation. In the case of Russia, its possession of nuclear weapons emboldens leaders to take offensive action because they know that even the threat of nuclear employment forces potential adversaries to a standstill.
As Fox points out, this is how Moscow can use nuclear weapons to prevent NATO from responding to a limited but large-scale Russian attack and thus limit a massive ground responsive to an "incremental limited war."
Therefore we arrive at a conclusion that nuclear weapons are not used merely to intimidate, deter, or threaten enemies but are rather a primordial instrument of an effective strategy of escalation control and conflict regulation. Moreover, this strategy is, as Dick notes, fundamentally offensive in nature.
Russia’s adversarial posture vis-à-vis the West is the corollary of the country’s sense of grievance over what it regards as its dismissive even humiliating treatment since the disintegration of the Soviet Union and its consequent revisionist predisposition. This necessarily carries with it a preparedness for armed conflict, or even a willingness to use its armed forces aggressively. The rearmament and reorganization currently underway is plainly not designed for a purely reactive, defensive posture. Nor would such a stance make military sense for a state that sees itself as being surrounded by enemies, shorn of its strategic depth, and suffering a legacy of painful historical experience, and with ambitions to revise at least element of the Post Cold War status quo. The Russian military is thus oriented towards offensive action, with an admixture of the defensive.
Moscow's behavior and apparent nuclear strategy validate these points because the document detailing that strategy and conditions for nuclear use is classified while open doctrinal statements are hardly revealing. To say that nuclear weapons might be used in a first strike if there is a vital threat to the state's survival is hardly revelatory for any nuclear power, especially one haunted by the real specter of state disintegration cannot afford to lose any war. But Russia's "nuclear behavior" is sufficient grounds for real anxiety. As Colin Gray observes, even though there is no sign of Russian discourse coming true concerning the use of a nuclear weapon to defeat NATO in limited nuclear scenarios, Moscow talks as if it can achieve this outcome.
In a manner that is ominously reminiscent of Adolf Hitler, Putin and others have chosen to introduce explicitly ruthless threats, including nuclear threats, into Russian reasoning about acute international crises. They hypothesize about the high political value that would accrue as a result of nuclear use on a limited scale. The hoop, apparently, is that the NATO enemy, indeed the less robust members, at least, would be out-gunned either by the actuality or more likely only by the credible threat of nuclear use (especially in a first-strike mode-SB).
Not surprisingly, and as we argue here, Gray's inescapable conclusion is that escalation dominance is Russia's strategic goal. While no such scenario has yet occurred, nor is it immediately likely; this does show just how nuclear scenarios are intertwined with conventional wars. Arguably a seamless web leads from conventional scenarios to and including these supposedly limited nuclear war scenarios perhaps using tactical nuclear weapons for which the West as yet has found no response. Or as Finnish LTC Pertti Forsstrom argues,
In this way, the content of the concept of traditional strategic deterrence is broadened to cover both Russian nuclear and conventional assets. On the other hand, the abolishment of the restrictions for the use of nuclear weapons means that the dividing line between waging war with conventional or with nuclear weapons is vanishing. When the principle of surprise is connected to this idea, it seems that Russia wants to indicate that non-strategic nuclear weapons could be regarded as "normal" assets on a conventional battlefield. This is the basis upon which Russia regulates the level of deterrence, for example in the Kaliningrad exclave. By introducing the concept of pre-emptive strike to its military means, Russia is trying to enhance its non-nuclear deterrence even further.
Thus we see a broader nuclear strategy that aims to use these weapons to control the entire process of escalation throughout the crisis from start to finish. If the crisis becomes kinetic, then escalating to de-escalate may well become an operative possibility within that framework. We should note here that this strategy clearly comprises both the real threat of nuclear operations and the constant reality of a threat to use those weapons as a means of deterrence and intimidation or in other words, a strategy of perception management. As suggested above, there is no need to choose between the influence operation elements of this strategy and its operational dimension.
At the same time, this kind of strategy explains the violations of the INF and the new developments in Russian nuclear weaponry. Although some claim that the decision to violate the INF is connected to NATO enlargement; the strategic rationale of girding for war with the West and attempting to develop the capabilities for dominating the former Soviet glacis and even projecting limited power abroad backed up by the threat of initiating nuclear operations are bound up in this approach.
Nuclear weapons are therefore critical instruments for prevailing in an environment of international rivalry and contestation that from Moscow’s view is characterized by the struggle for relative, rather than absolute gains, a climate of small gray zone clashes that are controlled in Russia’s favor or can be due to its nuclear arsenal and proclaimed readiness to use it first across a range of contingencies. As the Russian scholar, Stanislav Tkachenko observes,
Still, in deciding to get involved in a conflict and utilize coercive diplomacy, Russian civilian and military authorities do believe that the conflict itself could be located within existing norms of international law. Russia's economic and military resources would allow a standoff against any opponent along Russian borders for a limited period of time, while its nuclear weapons prevent the conversion of conflict into a full-fledged war.
In this context the possession of a wide range of usable nuclear weapons allows Moscow not only to dominate its former Soviet peripheries and threaten all of Europe and the United States, it also allows it to project power abroad in places as far away as Venezuela and Syria without too much fear of consequences and then steadily enhance its strategic and military position in these areas. While Moscow is doing so, its intermediate and longer-range conventional and nuclear missiles hold European, American (and if it ever came to this Chinese) military power at risk. We have already seen repeated examples of this strategy in Ukraine and Syria so that Moscow not only now has an integrated air and naval defense capability in and around the Black Sea that threatens littoral states like Ukraine, Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania; it has also long since begun building a chain of naval and air bases across the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean. And beyond these clearly articulated intentions for a base structure resembling that of the USSR in the 1970s and 1980s, it is also clear that Moscow has more expansive if still unrealized ambitions for ultimately projecting power beyond its borders. Thus in 2014, exactly when Russian troops were entering Crimea, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu publicly announced progress in talks with eight governments to establish a global network of airbases to extend the reach of Russia's long-range maritime and strategic aviation assets and thus increase Russia’s global military presence. Shoigu stated, “We are working actively with the Seychelles, Singapore, Algeria, Cyprus, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and even in some other countries. We are in talks and close to a result.” Shoigu cited Russia’s need for refueling bases near the equator and that "It is imperative that our navy has the opportunities for replenishment."
Although sanctions and ensuing economic constraints have impeded the realization of this vision, it is hardly in abeyance. We now see signs of the projection of power into Africa through so-called private security firms' armies, but in Venezuela, we see regular troops who will probably expand previous efforts to gain air and/or naval bases in Venezuela if not elsewhere in Latin America. When Putin was preparing the recent expedition to Venezuela of 100 Russian air force troops and accompanying material, he also warned Washington about the INF treaty that he was ready for another Cuban missile crisis if Washington wanted one. Since then not only has he dispatched these forces but he also sent TU-160 (Blackjack) long-range strategic (i.e. nuclear) bombers there in late 2018 to suggest what might follow. And now apparently, the Kremlin is also setting up an Air Force Bomber Group in Venezuela. Lt. General Vasily Petrovich Tonkoshkurov leads this formation, and the term “military group” in Russian denotes an external group of forces or air group commanded by a comparably high-ranking General. We have seen such formations in East Germany, Vietnam, Angola, and more recently, Syria. This group not only will be the beachhead for an expandable presence, it will also no doubt provoke the U.S. The forces and their logistical supply, including an Ilyushin Il-62M (Classic) and an Antonov-124 (Condor), are already in the theater and Blackjack Bombers are apparently being readied at Engles-2 base in southern Russia for a journey around the Norwegian North Cape mid-air refueling and down the Atlantic to Venezuela.
Undoubtedly as these forces are being reinforced so too will air and/or naval bases be developed for them. In late 2018 Venezuela announced that Russia is obtaining a long-term base on the island of La Orchila that had been offered to Moscow a decade earlier by Hugo Chavez. The base is some 160 miles from Caracas and the home of a Venezuelan airfield and navy base. Clearly, this is a portentous event and a harbinger of developments to come. Moscow has been interested in Latin American bases for at least a decade, Indeed in February 2014 Shoigu explicitly mentioned Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua as places where Moscow wanted naval and potentially air bases. The Venezuelan crisis and collapse of the INF treaty regime thus appear to have come together in official policy to produce a result that threatens to create a base for Blackjack strategic bombers carrying ICBMs or Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile to target the U.S. In addition Russian commentators openly stated that this would be the beginning of Moscow’s nuclear retaliation against the U.S. for its intention to leave the INF treaty. Accordingly, we can expect regular visits by nuclear-capable planes and ships to the neighboring naval base, if not permanent deployments, since a precedent has been set unlike 1962 and 1969.
This will also signify to many different audiences that Moscow is fully capable of playing in Washington’s “backyard” as it alleges the U.S. is doing to it, e.g. in Ukraine.
There are even reports of Moscow, through low-level contacts, offering Washington a trade, namely, we will stay out of your backyard if you get out of Ukraine. And, along with the air base it has apparently gotten the right to make port calls here. In fact, earlier in 2018 Venezuela’s Defense Minister, Vladimir Lopez told his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu, that Venezuela aspired to go beyond arms sales to operational level cooperation. This raises the question of what operations these governments are thinking about, where they might take place, and against whom might they be directed? This question becomes especially pertinent when we realize that Venezuela at least, is expecting more Russian troops.
It is not only the U.S. or Canada that should feel threatened by such deployments covered by a likely nuclear umbrella. Russian forces in Venezuela or client forces like the estimated 15,000 Cuban forces there represent a threat as well to other Latin American countries of either intervention or organized subversion backed up by a robust conventional and nuclear deterrent. Already in 2018 Colombia, Venezuela's neighbor and a staunch U.S. ally complained that "Venezuela's joint military exercises with Russia should put the entire South American continent on alert against an "unfriendly act."
Neither is such activity confined to Venezuela. We now know that Russian strategy in Africa is not merely driven by the opportunities to make money from mining and energy concessions or arms sales in Africa as some have opined. Instead, it is part of a conscious strategy, using all the instruments of Russian foreign policy, including military ones, to embed Russian political, strategic, and economic influence in Africa. And here too this “offensive” is bound up with the quest for military bases.
Many veteran Russia and arms control commentators have now opined that President Trump is insincere in calling for China to join talks or that is a ruse to scupper arms control in advance of a new treaty to replace the NEW START Treaty that expires in 2021. Supposedly this is John Bolton’s dark initiative to abort any future negotiations and saddle others with the blame. Moreover, they allege that it is the U.S.' fault that we are approaching “the end of arms control as we know it.”
Such arguments are groundless. It is long since necessary that China is included in any arms control negotiations. It is a major nuclear power, rightly insists on being treated as a great global power and is steadily building up its capabilities to threaten both Russia and the United States. For both Moscow and Washington it makes no strategic sense to allow China to continue to have a free hand to build up an unverified and unverifiable nuclear capability under such circumstances. And from the U.S. point of view, it is equally senseless to allow China to escape the consequences of its ever more overt hostility to U.S. interests, allies, and values. Allowing this state of affairs to continue without any attempt to reverse it represents an act of considerable strategic malfeasance.
At the same time, Russia’s actions in Venezuela, Syria, and Ukraine correspond to Tkachenko’s theory that Russia is employing “a new strategy for nuclear powers.” This strategy employs nuclear weapons not only to threaten and deter but also to make the world safe for limited Russian wars by controlling escalatory dynamics and conflict regulation processes. The metaphor is ‘careless pedestrian behavior,' i.e. entering a road and forcing drivers to stop their car lest superior force, including nuclear weapons, be brought to bear. In several cases, Russian leaders have utilized military means in a mass, holistically, and in a risky manner. Russian leaders today consider military standoffs with political opponents in neighboring states as comprehensive operations of its Army, operating under the authority of a single commander, while all needed resources are mobilized for the sake of immediate breakthrough.
This is an audacious strategy of limited war where nuclear weapons are always there to deter and allow Moscow to take risks to achieve any positive transformation in the status quo. And as we noted above limited nuclear war scenarios – which are intrinsically unpredictable scenarios for nobody knows what will follow the first use of a nuclear weapon -- contain within them an inherent potential for escalation beyond any means of control. Thus the discussion of such scenarios in official circles and the Russian policies of building an entire ensemble of weapons to match to any conceivable future contingency all bespeak an effort to control the escalation ladder throughout any crisis and attempt to dictate terms while threatening even worse escalation.
But as Alexander Gorchakov the example of 19th century Tsarist foreign policy that Russian leaders love to quote, memorably wrote, the danger lies in knowing where to stop. On the one hand, Russian diplomats say they want to continue the NEW START TREATY, but on the other hand, these same diplomats then argue that Russia’s most threatening new weapons do not come under that Treaty. Therefore Russia can and must continue to deploy those particular weapons. In other words, Moscow wants to constrain Washington but not itself. Clearly, that is an unacceptable outcome.
As the necessity for Putin to continue conducting great power adventures grows with the erosion of public support and the utter repudiation of economic-political reform, the likelihood of his intervening somewhere to sustain the great power myth and obsession along with his power grows and with it the possibility for serious escalation and miscalculation. What Gorchakov’s colleague P.A. Valuev wrote about the “lure of something erotic in the borderlands” still seems to drive Russian statesmen even beyond knowing where to stop. The effort to build a nuclear arsenal that is usable as far as possible across the entire spectrum of conflict is novel and innovative. But when we look at Ukraine and the other examples where Moscow seems all too willing to run the risk of nuclear escalation has it really been a successful strategy not only in our eyes but in Putin’s and is it not subject the law of diminishing returns? Since those returns comprise the future of his system and his state, what then becomes of these diminishing returns to a strategy displaying a readiness to wage even nuclear war when they diminish beyond the break-even point? When that happens what is left to Russia then?
Stephen Blank, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized expert on Russian foreign and defense policies and international relations across the former Soviet Union. He is also a leading expert on European and Asian security, including energy issues.. From 1989-2013 he was a Professor of Russian National Security Studies at the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania. Dr. Blank has been Professor of National Security Affairs at the Strategic Studies Institute since 1989. In 1998-2001 he was Douglas MacArthur Professor of Research at the War College.
Dr. Blank has consulted for the CIA, major think tanks and foundations, chaired major international conferences in the USA and abroad In Florence, Prague, and London, and has been a commentator on foreign affairs in the media in the United States and abroad. He has also advised major corporations on investing in Russia and is a consultant for the Gerson Lehrmann Group. He has published over 1300 articles and monographs on Soviet/Russian, U.S., Asian, and European military and foreign policies, including publishing or editing 15 books, testified frequently before Congress on Russia, China, and Central Asia for business, government, and professional think tanks here and abroad on these issues.
Prior to his appointment at the Army War College in 1989 Dr. Blank was Associate Professor for Soviet Studies at the Center for Aerospace Doctrine, Research, and Education of Air University at Maxwell AFB. He also held the position of 1980-86: Assistant Professor of Russian History, University of Texas, San Antonio, 1980-86, and Visiting Assistant Professor of Russian history, University of California, Riverside, 1979-80.
Dr. Blank's M.A. and Ph.D. are in Russian History from the University of Chicago. His B.A is in History from the University of Pennsylvania.