News | Oct. 18, 2023

Putin's Playbook: The Development of Russian Tactics, Operations, and Strategy from Chechnya to Ukraine

By Dr. Christopher Marsh Book Chapter

To better understand the reasons for and methods of Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 one needs to look at Putin's entire period in power -- from August 1999 to the battlefields of present-day Ukraine. During the more than two decades in question, the former KGB officer learned how to wage war -- partly by drawing upon methods from Russia's past, partly by adapting Western models of war, and even partly through innovation and learning. From Chechnya in the fall of 1999 to the present fighting in Ukraine, Putin has been attempting new methods and making them his own -- adding to his playbook, if you will, just as a coach does who studies and learns from repeated engagements with opponents. Only this playbook is one of assassination, genocide, and regime toppling, all with the goal of resurrecting remnants of the Russian Empire. This chapter surveys Putin's wars, attempting to analyze the tactics, operations, and strategies that he employs. Such an analysis is intended to shed light on how Putin wages war so the U.S. can better counter his moves, from the diplomatic realm to the battlefield. Read the book chapter here.