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Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, activity in Eastern Ukraine, saberrattling regarding the Baltics, deployment to Syria, and more assertive behavior along its borders have peeked interest in the Russian Armed Forces. This increased interest has caused much speculation about their structure, capabilities, and future development.
Interestingly, this speculation has created many different, and often contradictory narratives about these issues. At any given time, assessments of the Russian Armed Forces vary between the idea of an incompetent and corrupt conscript army manning decrepit Soviet equipment and relying solely on brute force, to the idea of an elite military filled with Special Operations Forces who were the “polite people” or “little greenmen” seen on the streets in Crimea.