Saturday evening, I heard the news that Vitaly Shlykov had passed away that morning. He should be a familiar name to most readers of this blog, but for those who are not familiar, I’ll just say that he was a leading figure in Russian military analysis and one of the key authors of the ideas behind the current reform of the Russian military. In the early 1990s, he chaired the State Duma’s committee on defense and was one of the founders of SVOP, the State Council on Foreign and Defense Policy. In the Soviet period, he worked for the GRU as a secret agent and served two years in prison in Switzerland in the mid-1980s as a result of his work.
His work in recent years has been dedicated to modernizing and reforming the Russian military by adopting some of the experience of foreign militaries. He has always called for cooperation between the Russian military and the armies of Western states, as well as greater cooperation between Russia and the West in general.
My personal interactions with Vitaly were minimal — I first met him at Valdai last spring. But both in conversations on that occasion, and in all his writings, he struck me as an eminently sensible and kind man. He will be greatly missed by all of us who work on the Russian military.
UPDATE: Here’s the Washington Post obituary.