Best Defense

The Pentagon’s top intelligence official sees Russian revanchism as a major threat

The Pentagon’s top intelligence official sees Russian revanchism as a major threat

By Ritika Katyal

Best Defense office of revanchist affairs

Michael Vickers, the Pentagon’s top intelligence official, said in a talk earlier this week that he sees Russian "revanchism" is a long-term security challenge, right alongside terrorism, the Syrian situation and the Iranian and North Korean nuclear missile programs. In this talk, given at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C., China was a distant last point.

Vickers, the Defense Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, admitted that he had been teased for using that term but maintained that it was relevant in light of Russia’s attempts to exert influence over territory occupied by the former Soviet Union. He accused Moscow of continuing to provide support for pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine and aiding destabilization.  In terms of US response to the situation, Vickers felt the crisis had shifted to what he termed as "unconventional warfare" in Ukraine.

Insisting that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was not a one-off event, Vickers alluded to the 2008 invasion of Georgia, and alluded to other means Russia had used, from "energy coercion to cyber and unconventional  warfare,’" to project power over other states of the former USSR.  He dubbed this sequence of events as a longer term complex intelligence challenge posed by "significant change in Russian behavior."

In response to a question, Vickers declined to blame the intelligence community for not anticipating the Crimean crisis. Instead, he argued that the invasion was very sudden and that U.S. intelligence forces did a good job in providing overall warning.