Much attention has been given to the Russian navy’s fleet of attack submarines and their new class of ballistic missile submarines. Often overlooked, however, is Russia’s fleet of smaller “auxiliary” submarines, which have the ability serve as special mission vessels with unique and highly asymmetric capabilities.
The NATO Alliance will grow from 28 to 29 members with the addition of Montenegro in the next year or two. Reaching consensus on Montenegro’s invitation was not without challenges. Indeed, the issue remained unresolved heading into the last weeks and days before the ministerial. Skeptics were hesitant to risk Russia’s ire over a country whose case, in the view of some, is not particularly compelling.
The horrors of the war in Syria, terrorist attacks, burgeoning refugee crises, the annexation of Crimea, and South China Sea disputes continue to prompt fears about the world’s direction. But, earlier this decade, Steven Pinker argued violence was declining with the end of the Cold War and the success of some peacekeeping efforts. Is that good news story obsolete?
Russia’s irredentist and revisionist narrative, coupled with its willingness to use military aggression irrespective of basic protocols of international law, creates an unstable security paradigm in Europe. Russia now presents an intractable challenge in Europe for the United States.
While they may never be able to match the capabilities and endurance of a manned, nuclear-powered submarine, unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) have the potential to dramatically affect the conduct of war at sea. Given their potential, the U.S. Navy must begin to think about and prepare for a world of 20,000 drones under the sea.
Russia’s military deployment into Syria this month adds a layer of complexity to a multifaceted conflict, complicating how the war there will be fought and how it will end. Russian assets in Syria heighten the risk of altercations with counter-ISIS coalition forces and provide Russia with leverage in diplomatic engagement on Syria’s future.