In 2021, Russia will continue to employ a variety of tactics meant to splinter US influence, divide Western countries and weaken Western alliances, and develop its military, nuclear, space, cyber, and intelligence capabilities, the US Intelligence Community says in its annual Threat Assessment.
Although Moscow is interested further opportunities for pragmatic cooperation with Washington on its own terms, it does not want a direct conflict with US forces, the intel experts stress. According to them, Russia seeks an accommodation with the United States on mutual noninterference in both countries’ domestic affairs and US recognition of Russia’s claimed sphere of influence over much of the former Soviet Union.
“In the former Soviet Union, Moscow is well positioned to increase its role in the Caucasus, intervene in Belarus if it deems necessary, and continue destabilization efforts against Ukraine while settlement talks remain stalled and low-level fighting continues,” the report reads.
The American security analysts anticipate that Moscow will employ ‘an array of tools—especially influence campaigns, intelligence and counterterrorism cooperation, military aid and combined exercises, mercenary operations, assassinations, and arms sales’ in order to advance own interests or undermine those of the United States and its allies. They also expect the Kremlin to ‘insert itself into crises when Russian interests are at stake’.
Since 2006, the Russian Federation has used energy as a foreign policy tool to coerce cooperation and force states to the negotiating table, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence recalls in this year’s assessment. The US side warns that Russia also uses its capabilities in civilian nuclear reactor construction as a soft-power tool in its foreign policy. As it is known, the Belarusian nuclear power plant in with two reactors of total capacity of 2,400 MW was built by the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) using a Russian loan, to be run on its own uranium fuel. In mid November, a Rosatom top official expressed the corporation’s readiness to build one more NPP in Belarus.