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We have seen Russia’s confidence, capabilities and willingness to use them grow over the last decade. Russia seems ready to test the boundaries of our response with its greater willingness to act in its interests and against those of the West. Russia has shown a greater appetite to use non-military means at the lower end of the spectrum and manage the risks of doing so. Russia has been preparing all its capabilities and is flexing its action across the spectrum of confrontation/conflict. It is mobilising the resources of the Russian state not just the military to be well-prepared for crisis or conflict.
In this context we must understand Russia better – interpret what it is saying and doing, its defence and security aims and concerns. But we must also consider what choices we have in our response. There are practical problems in how we think about our defence policy options, including our use of the military. We must consider these options in terms of what we do with allies and partners. These relationships will be crucial in addressing Russia especially in the Euro-Atlantic region. We will also need a convincing narrative in explaining our policy position on Russia.
We will need to consider both what we must do as immediate priorities, as well as plan and scale our effort over the long term. We must also identify where our understanding of Russia is weak, and seek to improve our evidence base through considered engagement, research and analysis. This forum will help provide answers – and shape further questions – to address both of these requirements.