Russia’s Nonlethal Weapons Concept

December 2020
Topics: Neurosciences, Intelligence Analysis, Biochemistry, Military Planning, Warfare, Army Operations, Hazardous Substances, Psychology
Timothy Thomas, The MITRE Corporation
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Russian military analysts believe that nonlethal weapons (NLWs) offer commanders’ new options and ways to handle crises, providing flexible responses to situations and reducing the chances of serious injury among noncombatants. Physical NLWs are used to incapacitate opponents, control crowd behavior, or induce psychological effects, while others (chemical, biological, and radiological NLWs) are used to block access to areas or disrupt electrical components of transport, among other uses.

New forms of NLWs are constantly under development in Russia, and the planning process seeks to identify NLW trends 20-25 years out. Russian discussions of NLWs divide their use into internal and external areas of application. The former indicates that the Russian National Guard will be involved in the use of NLWs for crowd control and other uses, while externally they will be used against terrorists first and then against an opponent in conjunction with traditional forms of warfare. For example, laser blinding devices, which can cause temporary loss of vision without harmful consequences, can be fitted to drones along with a remote electric shock device, according to one report. Perhaps NLWs are an aspect of President Vladimir Putin’s asymmetric approach to conflict.



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