Podcast — how it works and how the West can fight back
by MATTHEW GAULT
Moscow thinks it’s at war with the West and it doesn’t care if the West doesn’t realize it. In many ways, it’s in the Kremlin’s best interest if the United States and other Western powers don’t believe they’re at war with Russia.
But war has changed in the 21st century and combat is not always kinetic. Russia’s battlefields are the Internet, financial markets and television airwaves. The goal is not necessarily to take and hold territory but to expand a sphere of influence and raise Russia from a decaying regional power to a global superpower.
This is hybrid warfare, or gibridnaya voina, the much hyped and discussed new way of war. But, as Mark Galeotti tells us on this week’s War College, there’s nothing new under the sun. Moscow’s conception of hybrid war is a reaction to and an Eastern adaptation of American military strategy during the Cold War.
In the eyes of Russian military strategists and political technologists, they’re just catching up to the West and using its own strategies against it. More importantly, gibridnaya voina is really a combination of two different but related strategies.
The first is a simple softening of a country before a ground invasion. It involves propaganda and political destabilization to undermine a country’s defenses. This is what the world saw in both Crimea and the Donbass region of Ukraine.
The second strategy uses the same tactics and techniques, but it isn’t designed to soften a country for a ground invasion.
When Russia opens up another RT affiliate in Western Europe, it’s using this strategy. The goal is simple — expand Russian soft power to make the world more agreeable to the Kremlin’s point of view.
This week on War College, Russian expert Mark Galeotti runs us through hybrid war and how this “new” strategy isn’t new at all.