(I should note that this article was originally published in The Oxford Analytica Daily Brief and is produced here with kind permission.)
Let me just note the three key issues I identified, in part to pat myself on the back, in part to look to the future:
- GRU’s Future: I suggested that the GRU would survive, but in less grand form, no longer a federal body in its own rights but more closely subordinated to the Chief of the General Staff. The formal redesignation of the GRU hasn’t happened yet (but I think it will) but it is certainly more under Makarov’s thumb. Next year it may simply become a regular rather than main directorate of the General Staff and be forced to move out of its recently-built HQ in Khodinka (not least because of the profit to be made from selling that tasty bit of real estate).
- Spetsnaz Reshuffle: the five surviving Spetsnaz brigades have indeed been transferred from military intelligence to regular territorial army commands.
- Shifting Priorities: I thought the GRU would concentrate on core military intel missions and this does seem to be happening, with the closure or reduction of much of their pol-mil gathering and analysis elements, as well as a lot of their resources in Latin America and Africa. Expect to see them concentrating on conventional military intel missions and on Asia, Central Asia and the West.
Now what, though? We await to hear of Shlyakhturov’s fate and who succeeds him.