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On July 4, 2017, RIAC held another “urban breakfast” at the Dostoyevsky Library in the series dedicated to convening experts to debate relevant international affairs questions in front of wider audiences. This Tuesday, the participants had the chance to listen to Aleksey Fenenko, a Leading Research Associate at the Institute on International Security Studies of the RAS and Ivan Timofeev, RIAC Director of Programs, who discussed the possibility of a new great war.

On July 4, 2017, RIAC held another “urban breakfast” at the Dostoyevsky Library in the series dedicated to convening experts to debate relevant international affairs questions in front of wider audiences. This Tuesday, the participants had the chance to listen to Aleksey Fenenko, a Leading Research Associate at the Institute on International Security Studies of the RAS and Ivan Timofeev, RIAC Director of Programs, who discussed the possibility of a new great war.

Aleksey Fenenko opened the event stating that our notion of war is based on the inventions of the Second Boer War and pertains to the practices of the two World Wars, which involve the first continuous fronts, the possibility to mass mobilize armies, the permanent operations at fronts, and the perception of the entire opponent’s population as an object for a violent attack. However, the wars of the contemporary world represent a retreat to the conventions and practices of wars pre-dating the Second Boer War. Such wars are localized, involve mercenaries and non-state actors, and are fought to force the opponent to surrender to certain terms.

Ivan Timofeev outlined the differences between nuclear and chemical weapons, particularly emphasizing the chances of a strategic use of each. He further explained how technological improvements challenge the traditional perceptions and applications of the power of arms.

A. Fenenko and I. Timofeev agreed that nuclear war is different from conventional warfare in that it is based on the principle of “a cheap win,” i.e. the destruction of opponent’s key administrative and economic centers. Nuclear weapons prevent the nuclear powers from engaging in mutually destructive wars, thus opening other localized frontiers for conflict. Timofeev then discussed the notion of a second-strike capability, giving a few scenarios of a localized use of nuclear weapons.

Following the presentations, audience members were given an opportunity to ask questions to and engage in informal discussions with the two experts. Questions focused on the unconventional forms of warfare, including hybrid, cyber and informational. When discussing issues relevant to different forms of warfare, experts went beyond the theoretical framework by illustrating their concepts of warfare with contemporary cases.

Городской завтрак РСМД: Возможна ли новая большая война?

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Poll conducted

  1. In your opinion, what are the US long-term goals for Russia?
    U.S. wants to establish partnership relations with Russia on condition that it meets the U.S. requirements  
     33 (31%)
    U.S. wants to deter Russia’s military and political activity  
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    U.S. wants to dissolve Russia  
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    U.S. wants to establish alliance relations with Russia under the US conditions to rival China  
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