Moscow’s Calibrated Coercion in Ukraine and Russian Strategic Culture


Russian operations in Ukraine are driven by a senior-level policy decision to pursue a persistent but indecisive conflict-as opposed to a decisive “big war”-type military operation or a truly “frozen” conflict (i.e., without regular bloodshed). This paper terms the tactic calibrated coercion and the outcome a simmering conflict. Calibrated coercion seems to be somewhat of a departure from the strategic-cultural preference for quick military operations with overwhelming force to produce decisive outcomes. The simmering effect, however, is consistent with Russian approaches to managing problems. Thus far, this approach has produced results, but its effectiveness over the long term remains a question mark.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND’s publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.

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