The RAND Corporation, a world-renowned US research and consulting firm, boasts 1,800 employees in over 50 countries who are able to conduct research and communicate in over 75 languages, more than half of whom have a doctorate or even several doctorates. So RAND is not just one of countless so-called think tanks. And what is particularly important to note: RAND's best customers are the US State Department (i.e. the US State Department) and the US military: the US Army, the US Air Force and the US Department of Homeland Security. These government customers pay more than half of all RAND revenue.
The Soviet Union and Russia under the microscope
RAND, this gigantic research and consulting company, has now investigated the military behavior of the Soviet Union and Russia since the Second World War and especially since the end of the Cold War in 1991. The result is remarkable. RAND points out that Russia's military interventions are only marginal compared to the Soviet Union and, above all, that the interventions were always associated with an impending loss and never used in the sense of an additional gain on land or influence, i.e. always in defense of the status quo.
Paul Robinson, a professor at the University of Ottawa who specializes in geopolitical relations and is well-known in Canada and the United States, has carefully studied RAND's 186-page report on the Russian military and has reviewed and commented on its content on his web portal Irrussianality. From this, in the sense of a summary, a few statements - translated into German - are quoted:
"A few years ago, I discussed the possible relevance of the Prospect theory to the Russian annexation of Crimea. The Prospect theory says that people are more willing to take risks to avoid a loss than to make a profit. This corresponds to the known psychological tendency to loss aversion. If we lose something, it bothers us much more than if we don't win something. In the world of international relations, this means that states are expected to use military force more often when they are threatened with loss than when they want to acquire something they do not already have. It is therefore interesting to see this confirmed in a new study by the RAND Corporation entitled "Russia's Military Interventions: Patterns, Drivers, and Signposts". It analyzes the cases of Russian military intervention in the post-Soviet period. The conclusion: one of the main motivations is the prevention of losses."
Elsewhere at Robinson: "In any case, according to the study, it is wrong to see Putin as the main culprit of Russian military intervention."
Quoted by Robinson from the RAND study: "If we examine all of Russia's interventions that meet the threshold described in this report, it becomes clear that most of them took place before Putin came to power. Most importantly, today there is a broad consensus among Russian elites on foreign policy issues. There is little firsthand evidence to suggest that Putin's personal preferences are a major driver of Russia's interventions."
Paul Robinson: "Russia intervenes when it feels threatened by a loss of status, stability or security in its immediate neighborhood. It does not intervene to pursue "aggressive" or "imperialist" goals or to distract from domestic problems. And it's not a question of Vladimir Putin. Russia, regardless of who is in power, will have the same interests and preferences."
And again Paul Robinson: "In short, all claims that Russia wants to export its authoritarian ideology, destabilize democracy, support the "Putin regime" or that Russia's military interventions are driven only by the aggressive personality of Putin himself are false."
RAND: "Do NOT provoke!"
Paul Robinson's final section: "RAND's report ends with a short series of recommendations for US policy. First and foremost, the US should avoid putting Moscow in a position where it feels it has to suffer a great loss in its near abroad. As a report from a think tank, this is a remarkably sober and reasonable recommendation, [...] which I don't have much to criticise. Basically, it boils down to the fact that one should not drive the bear into the corner. In the present case, it is clear. The RAND report contradicts the current narrative that Russia is intent on aggression and must be dealt with by all available means, including penetration into its near abroad. If this RAND report is correct, NATO's current push into Russia's borders is pretty much the worst thing that can be done. But I doubt anyone will listen."
Is no one listening?
Anyone who closely observes the current events in the EU, and especially in Germany, must realize that there really does not seem to be anyone listening among current and future leaders. A new project has just become known: the EU intends to provide additional training for Ukrainian officers. To train for military use against which opponent? Against Russia, of course. To use the words of Paul Robinson: everyone, the US, NATO, the EU, including Germany, is about to corner the Russian bear – knowing that it is precisely then that it begins to fight back. And this in-the-corner activity is always justified as follows: Russia is aggressive, Putin is an aggressor.
Let's see if at least RAND's best customers, the US State Department and the US military, read - and perhaps even heed - RAND's latest extensive study.