New report on U.S.-India security burden-sharing

CNA has published a report on U.S.-India security burden-sharing, which I worked on last year. I wrote the chapter on trends in security assistance and cooperation with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Here’s the abstract:

Building a partnership with India is central to U.S. security interests in the Indian Ocean (IO). The United States seeks to work with India to promote stability in a region of rising commercial and strategic importance. U.S. policymakers view India as an “anchor” or “pillar” of stability in the Asia-Pacific. Given declining defense budgets, however, the United States will have fewer resources for its forces and partner capacity-building in this vast region. Envisioning India as a “provider of security in the broader Indian Ocean region,” the United States is naturally eager to pursue burden-sharing opportunities with India as a means to this end.

India for its part understands that the United States expects it to assume a greater leadership role in the IO and appreciates the importance of its growing economic and naval capabilities. In 2010, then-Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao spoke about the growing view that “a robust Indian naval presence is seen as a necessary contribution to a cooperative regional security order” and discussed “the cooperative burden-sharing of naval forces to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia” as an example of India’s contributions to IO security.

This report examines the potential for the United States and India to coordinate on the provision of security assistance and capacity-building in the IO as a form of security burden-sharing. We examine the South Asian littoral countries of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Maldives. At present, though, U.S.-India burden-sharing in the Indian Ocean is only notional as a logical next step in the U.S.-India strategic partnership. U.S.-India coordination on security assistance to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Maldives would represent an important change to the approaches and tools in U.S. and Indian relations with these IO countries. It would also be a new aspect of U.S. bilateral and military-to-military relations with India.

The modernization of Russia’s nuclear submarine forces

Yet another Oxford Analytica brief. This one from January. Planning to resume new posts in June, though there will be a couple more OA briefs posted in May.


The nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) Yury Dolgoruky officially became part of the Russian navy on January 10, more than a decade after it was initially contracted. It is the lead vessel of the Borey class, equipped with the new marine-launched ballistic missile system (SLBM) Bulava, which has a maximum range of over 8,000 kilometres. The Yury Dolgoruky was commissioned soon after the launch of SSBN Vladimir Monomakh, the third submarine in the series, in late December. These developments have led to conjectures that Russia may again pose a serious security threat to the United States and its NATO allies.


  • Work on the Borey and Bulava projects will help Russia assess quality control issues and improve production in other areas.
  • The Russian defence budget will continue to prioritise nuclear weapons, limiting Moscow’s ability to modernise its conventional military.
  • Moscow’s defence upgrades will not have a major impact on US-Russian relations, which are increasingly focused on other issues.

ANALYSIS: In February 2011, Russia’s former deputy minister of defence announced the launch of the State Armament Programme 2020, stressing that the modernisation of Russia’s strategic nuclear weapons would be a top priority.

Motivating factors

Moscow’s decision to focus on nuclear modernisation is motivated by several practical and strategic considerations:

  • Outdated nuclear arsenal: The bulk of the arsenal is approaching the end of its service life.
  • Insufficient conventional forces: Russia’s non-nuclear forces cannot, on their own, deter potential conflicts with major powers.
  • Protection: A solid nuclear arsenal would help protect Russia’s interests, including its economic stakes in the Arctic.
  • ‘Superpower’ status: Nuclear forces are one of Russia’s few remaining claims to a prominent position in the international system.

Critically, modernisation efforts should not be misinterpreted as a serious new threat to NATO.

Strategic naval forces

The Russian navy currently operates a fleet of six Delta IV and three Delta III SSBNs.

Outdated fleet

The older Delta IIIs, based in the Pacific Fleet, are armed with 16 SS-N-18 missiles per boat, carrying three warheads each. These submarines first entered service in the late 1970s and are now approaching the end of their lifespan. The Delta IV SSBNs, which are based in the Northern Fleet, are each armed with 16 SS-N-23 Sineva missiles carrying four warheads per missile. They entered service in the mid-1980s and are gradually being overhauled in order to extend their lifespan by an additional ten years. The oldest submarines will be decommissioned in 2019 and the last of the class is expected to be retired by 2025. Because of the overhaul schedule, in recent years, between six and seven strategic submarines were on active duty at any one time.


The Delta IIIs are slated to be replaced by three Borey-class submarines, which are expected to be commissioned over the next two years. Following the commissioning of Yury Dolgoruky, the first of these SSBNs, earlier this month, the navy will be commissioning the Aleksandr Nevsky later in 2013 and the Vladimir Monomakh in 2014. Each of the nuclear-powered submarines will contain 16 launch tubes for the Bulava missile. Subsequent hulls — known as Project 955A — will be modified to carry 20 Bulava missiles.

According to the State Armament Programme, another five modified Borey submarines will be commissioned by 2020, bringing the total number of next generation SSBNs to eight. Since the six Delta IV submarines are slated to retire between 2019 and 2025, the construction schedule for the new submarines can be extended by up to five years without forcing the Russian military to reduce its current active fleet of eight SSBNs, which it perceives as the necessary minimum for maintaining Russia’s strategic deterrent capability.


In the longer term, there is a chance that Russia will increase its SSBN fleet from eight to ten units either through the procurement of two additional modified Borey submarines or the construction of a new class of SSBNs. The ultimate decision to expand will depend on the availability of funding as well as the successful completion of the Bulava missile tests.

Missile problems

The Bulava is the sea-based version of the SS-27 and RS-24 missiles. In contrast to its land-based prototypes, its development ran into serious obstacles during the initial testing phases. In eight of the first twelve flight tests, the Bulava suffered critical failures.

Bulava problems rectified?

According to the weapon’s lead designer, the problems were due to lack of necessary equipment and insufficient oversight. Moreover, the Russian industry was unable to provide Bulava manufacturers with the necessary components in a timely manner. The production team has recently increased control over the production process, which appears to have paid off: since October 2010, there have been seven consecutive launches of the Bulava, all of them successful.

Further production issues

In July 2011, the Ministry of Defence announced its plans for the serial production of the Bulava. The next launch was expected to take place in October 2012. However, it was postponed until July 2013 because of unresolved problems with automated control systems for the launch mechanism. As a result, the Yury Dolgoruky submarine was commissioned with 16 empty missile containers. Without the missiles, the submarine has little practical value, which places a great deal of pressure on the defence industry to solve the outstanding problems as quickly as possible.


Since the end of the Cold War, nuclear arms have become largely peripheral to US-Russian relations. Instead, issues such as energy security, international terrorism and the future of newly independent states on Russia’s periphery have taken centre stage. The ongoing dispute with NATO concerning plans to erect a missile defence shield over the alliance’s territory appears to be primarily due to Russia’s perception of having been excluded from the European security infrastructure, rather than to fears of a nuclear attack by the United States or its allies.

CONCLUSION: The defence industry will endeavour to resolve the remaining technical problems with the Bulava, indispensable to the new generation of strategic submarines, which were designed simultaneously with the missile system. The missile will likely be fully operational by the end of 2013. Given that the new submarines are primarily intended to replace existing SSBNs that are nearing the end of their lifespan and that the role of nuclear arms has become less prominent in the US-Russian security relationship over the past decades, SSBN modernisation should not be misinterpreted as a new threat to NATO.


Kuril Islands report published

My report on the Southern Kuril Islands has finally been published as part of CNA’s Long Littoral Project. It’s the last of five reports exploring security issues in the Indo-Pacific Basin, all of which are now available online. Here’s a description of the entire project from the CNA website:

CNA is concluding a yearlong study which explores the greater Asian littoral that runs from the Sea of Japan in the east to the Arabian Sea in the west. The Long Littoral Project examines the five great maritime basins of the Indo-Pacific—the Sea of Japan, the East China and Yellow seas, the South China Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea—in order to provide a different perspective, namely a maritime viewpoint, on the security issues that the United States must confront as it “rebalances” to a stronger maritime orientation focused on the Indo-Pacific littoral. The project also aims to identify issues that may be common to more than one basin, but involve different players in different regions, with the idea that solutions possible in one maritime basin may be applicable in others. Under the direction of CNA Senior Fellow RADM (ret.) Michael A. McDevitt, the Long Littoral project was made possible through a grant from the Smith Richardson Foundation.

Problems of Post-Communism, January 2013 Table of Contents

Volume 60 Number 1 / January-February 2013 of Problems of Post-Communism is now available on the web site at

This issue contains:

Populism and the Construction of Political Charisma: Post-Transition Politics in Bulgaria  p. 3
Boris Gurov, Emilia Zankina
How Stable Is the New Kim Jong-un Regime?: A Revolution in North Korea?  p. 18
Mun Suk Ahn
When External Leverage Fails: The Case of Yulia Tymoshenko’s Trial  p. 29
Serhiy Kudelia
The European Union in Kosovo: Reflecting on the Credibility and Efficiency Deficit  p. 43
Nikolaos Tzifakis
Parliamentary Oversight of the Security Sector in Serbia: Perceived Effects  p. 55
Vanja Rokvić, Željko Ivaniš

Russian Politics and Law, January 2013 Table of Contents


Volume 51 Number 1 / January-February 2013 of Russian Politics and Law is now available on the web site at

This issue contains:

Security in Central Asia: Editor’s Introduction  p. 3
Dmitry Gorenburg
Russian and U.S. Interests in Central Asia: Prospects for Cooperation  p. 7
Sergei Dorofeev
Central Asia Viewed in the Context of the Afghan Situation: A Discussion at the Institute of the World Economy and International Relations  p. 25
The U.S. Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan and Regional Security in Central Asia  p. 49
Fatima T. Kukeeva
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s Role in Countering Threats and Challenges to Central Asian Regional Security  p. 59
Kuralai I. Baizakova
Energy Cooperation Among Kazakhstan, Russia, and China Within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization  p. 80
Galiia A. Movkebaeva
Regional Security Cooperation Between the Republic of Kazakhstan and the European Union  p. 88
Kuralai I. Baizakova

Security in Central Asia: Editor’s Introduction

This issue of Russian Politics and Law examines security issues in Central Asia. The main focus is on the interaction between Central Asian states and regional powers, particularly in the context of the upcoming NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan. The articles include a variety of perspectives from both Russian and Central Asian scholars.

Sergei Dorofeev’s article on “Russian and American Interests in Central Asia: Prospects of Possible Cooperation” opens the issue. In this article, Dorofeev argues that Russia’s primary interests in the region include maintaining sociopolitical stability and regional security, which comprises issues as varied as the fight against Islamist extremism and the drug threat, nuclear nonproliferation, and border control. Secondary interests include maintaining influence over the region’s energy sector and transportation infrastructure, promoting Russian language and culture and helping Russian-speaking residents of Central Asia, and encouraging regional integration initiatives such as the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Eurasian Economic Community (EAEC).

Dorofeev sees U.S. interests as focused on promoting American values such as democracy and human rights while making sure that no other power acquires controlling influence in the region. In addition, the United States is committed to preventing the destabilization of the region and wants to ensure continued international access to Central Asian energy supplies. The author argues that Russian and American interests coincide most closely in the areas of maintaining regional stability and ensuring energy exports. On the security side, he calls for the management of risk through the establishment of a creative partnership between the CSTO and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which could improve the management of security risks in the region and thereby benefit both sides.

The second article in this issue is actually the transcript of a discussion on “Central Asia Viewed in the Context of the Afghan Situation,” held in December 2010 at the Institute of the World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The speakers at this session included such prominent scholars as Georgii Mirskii and Aleksei Arbatov.

The keynote lecture at the session was given by Dina Malysheva, who argued that Central Asia has in recent years come to receive more attention from the international community because of its energy resources and because of its proximity to Afghanistan. As NATO and the United States begin to withdraw from Afghanistan, Malysheva believes that Russia may have a short-term opportunity to increase its influence in the region. The subsequent discussion addressed the possible long-term impact of the withdrawal of allied forces from Afghanistan on the Central Asian region. The speakers found that increased drug trafficking, political instability, and the threat of Islamism pose significant challenges that the Central Asian states and Russia are as yet unprepared to meet.

Fatima Kukeeva’s article, “The U.S. Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan and Regional Security in Central Asia,” explores in greater detail the potential impact of U.S. withdrawal on stability in the region. While most analysts limit themselves to examining the interests of global and regional powers, she discusses the positions of the Central Asian states themselves, especially regarding their relations with Afghanistan. Although the five states of Central Asia, Russia, the United States, and Europe would all like to see an economically and politically stable Afghanistan after the NATO withdrawal of troops in 2014—not least to maintain regional security—each party brings to the table its own cost–benefit analysis, causing some disagreement over how to achieve a workable settlement. Most of the parties involved agree that regional cooperation is the best route forward, but they disagree on whether this cooperation should take place through increased interaction between security organizations (such as NATO and the CSTO) or through economic initiatives such as the New Silk Road.

In “The Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s Role in Countering Threats and Challenges to Central Asian Regional Security,” Kuralai Baizakova describes the origin and history of another regional organization, one with a focus broader than security issues. In its decade of existence, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has become a significant regional player promoting military, political, economic, and security cooperation in Central Asia. As such, it has the potential to grow into an institution representing most of Eurasia, including Russia and China.

Regarding regional stability, Baizakova argues that the SCO has the potential to serve a unique role in promoting security, because it is the only organization that ties the two major regional powers—China and Russia—into a cooperative framework with the states that comprise Central Asia. She furthermore makes the case for the potential benefits of close cooperation between the SCO, on the one hand, and NATO and the United States, on the other, in ensuring stability in the region during and after the NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan. She concludes that the best way to ensure regional stability is through the linkage of all major regional political actors in a cooperative organization; for her, the SCO is the only organization that can serve this purpose.

The last two articles in this issue focus on Kazakhstan’s foreign policy. Kazakhstan is arguably the most powerful country in the region, both in terms of economic and military power. Galiia Movkebaeva, in “Energy Cooperation Among Kazakhstan, Russia, and China Within the SCO,” focuses on the economic side.  She shows that China, Kazakhstan, and Russia are making progress in energy cooperation, but so far largely on the basis of bilateral agreements. She argues that the SCO Energy Club, established in late 2011, offers opportunities to expand that cooperation in a way that benefits all the organization’s members and observer states. Regional energy coordination would make it easier to develop multinational infrastructure projects, allow the member-states to coordinate their extraction and export/import policies, and develop joint measures to ensure mutual energy security.

The last article in this issue, by Kuralai Baizakova, is titled “Regional Security Cooperation Between the Republic of Kazakhstan and the European Union.” It addresses the security aspects of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy. Baizakova argues that Kazakhstan stands to gain a great deal in terms of both economic development and improved security from enhancing its partnership with the European Union (EU). Kazakhstan’s chief interest is to ensure the security of energy exports, an area that is also of critical importance to the EU. The two sides also share an interest in improving border security in order to reduce the flow of narcotics through the region.

The author believes that Kazakhstan can benefit even more from positioning itself within the transatlantic relationship between the European Union and the United States, using the experience of this bilateral and multilateral cooperation to develop its economy and establish a stable democracy in which human rights are respected.

While I am less certain about the priority placed by any of the Central Asian governments on establishing stable democracies and promoting human rights, it seems clear from the articles in this issue that both Central Asian and Russian scholars see the integration of Central Asian states into regional and international institutions as the best, and possibly only, way to ensure their long-term political stability and economic development. The departure of the United States and NATO from the region over the next few years will undoubtedly lead to a number of challenges for these states’ security and internal stability. Regional organizations such as the CSTO and the SCO are likely to be required to step up to fill the resulting gaps.