16 May 2024

The Role of AI in Russia’s Confrontation with the West

Samuel Bendett

Russian thinking about artificial intelligence (AI) development is consistent with that of other major powers that are seeking to respond to an evolving combat environment characterized by growing complexity and rapid technological change. Russia has made several pronouncements on the importance of AI in combat, yet it is often difficult to estimate whether the country’s Ministry of Defense (MOD) actually has utilized AI-enabled systems and weapons, including on the Ukrainian battlefield. Western sanctions and export controls also have the potential to increase the headwinds that Russia faces in its ability to meet its AI objectives.

Presently, the Russian military establishment is investing in AI research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) seen as most relevant today and in future combat. These investments are shaped both by the understanding of where such emphasis is placed among likely competitors, such as the United States and NATO, and where resources should be allocated based on the ongoing complicated combat in Ukraine.

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