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Members of the pro-Russian 1st Cossack Regiment guard a checkpoint.

The challenge of Russia’s private military and security companies

Proxy Power

July 2020, Number 10.03

“In the early post-Cold War period, there was hope that the great powers would cooperate to stabilize conflict affected countries and promote peaceful development around the world. However, such optimism proved ill founded. Great power competition has returned and with it the commensurate risk of military conflict. The United States’ status as the world’s strongest military power is increasingly challenged. Russia and China, along with less powerful adversaries such as Iran and North Korea, contest U.S. reach and influence, a development acknowledged in recent U.S. defense and security strategies. China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea have strained relations with neighboring states and could potentially draw China and the U.S. into direct armed conflict. Russia’s seizure of Crimea in 2014 and violent support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have generated tensions between Russia and Western states unprecedented since the Cold War era.

Nevertheless, a traditional war between the major powers would pose huge military, political and financial risks for the states involved, as well as unimaginable destruction even if nuclear weapons were not employed. Therefore, great power armed conflict remains less likely than aggravated great power competition...”

Excerpt from James K. Wither, “Proxy Power,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues 10, No. 3, 2020: 56-61.

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.