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Russia Reform Monitor - No. 2070

What Russia learned in Syria;
Russia's schools get militarized

Edited by Ilan Berman and Daniel Jimenez
June 13, 2016

May 19: 

Are Pyongyang and Moscow poised to move closer? 
The Moscow Times reports that the regime of Kim Jong-un has proposed new talks with the Kremlin over the creation of a bilateral visa free regime. The discussions would center on the elimination of travel visas for Russians as a way of encouraging Russian tourism to and investment in the Hermit Kingdom, Russia's Far East Development Minister Alexander Galushka has disclosed. 

May 20:

A prominent Russian jurist has blasted the Obama administration's embrace of American exceptionalism, which he has equated with fascism. "Any objective, educated person can see in Obama's statements an almost verbatim quoting of the leading politicians and propagandists of Germany's Third Reich, including Adolf Hitler," Constitutional Court chief Valery Zorkin told a St. Petersburg legal forum in comments 
carried by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. "At heart, what Obama is declaring is the same as what the Nazi bigwigs were saying about the exceptionalism of the Germans and Germany as they unleashed a world war." 

Russia's recent battlefield experiences are paying concrete dividends. 
Itar-TASS reports that Russian officials are now busy incorporating "lessons learned" from the Russian military's engagement in Syria into the country's warfighting doctrine. "Modern military conflicts are very brief," Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has told reporters. "Decisions to create and prepare various groups of troops are made within tight deadlines. In view of these peculiarities and the experience gained in Syria the armed forces are introducing new forms and methods of combat training." 

Russian combat training and defense acquisitions have also surged. "Over the past three years the combat potential of the Armed Forces has been up 32%," Shoigu has said. "The state defense contract has nearly doubled. Since 2013 the troops have received more than 15,000 pieces of new or upgraded military hardware." 

Russian schools nationwide are poised to adopt a new, militarized curriculum. 
The BBC, citing Russian news sources, reports that the the new academic year beginning in September will see schools across the country incorporate a range of military practices and topics - from "assembling assault rifles, shooting and parachute jumping," to "theoretical subjects such as military history and tactics" - into their everyday activities. The initiative, launched and overseen by Russia's defense ministry, will be run by a newly-reconstituted Soviet-era organization known as "Yunarmiya," or "Young Army." 

The target age group for the training, the BBC reports, "is likely to be 14 to 18, but could start as soon as 10." The initiative comes in response to surging Russian nationalism, which has expanded dramatically the start of the Ukraine crisis in 2014, and which Russia's government is trying to exploit by gaining greater control of the "growing number of patriotic military movements" now present throughout the country. 

May 21:

Russian President Vladimir Putin and other high ranking officials have suddenly found themselves in the legal crosshairs, 
UPI reports. The families of the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 - which was shot down by Russian made anti-aircraft weapons in eastern Ukraine in 2014 - have filed a suit in Australia against the Kremlin for its involvement in the incident. The legal complaint, filed by an Australian law firm, seeks $10 million in damages for each one of the flight's 298 passengers and crew. The claim charges that Russia, which provided the weaponry used to shoot down the flight to Ukrainian separatist forces, "violated the right to life and protection from torture" of the passengers, the news agency reports.

Related Categories: Russia; Russia and Eurasia Program

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