Mark Voyger: "In The Current Russian Hybrid War There Is Nothing Fundamentally New"

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The Ukrainian Week - During the Second Security Forum in Lviv Weekly discussed with the American scientist the concept of hybrid war, the directions of the development of the Russian army and the probability of a war between the United States and China.

What is the essence of the modern war? How can you describe the term "hybrid war"?

- In essence, in the current Russian hybrid war there is nothing fundamentally new. Russia is resorting to the same old methods, as if using new tools and technologies. Partly its tactics dates back to the eighteenth century, from the time of Ekaterina II. The Kremlin simply improves it and uses it against its neighbors, the West and even its own people.

Today, the term "hybrid war" is often mentioned, all speak it - from journalists to analysts and politicians. And each of them claims to be an expert in the hybrid war, just as a few years ago everyone thought they were experts in terrorism. The term "hybrid war" was proposed by American military analyst Frank Hoffman in 2007, who was trying to describe the tactics used by terrorist groups and insurgent forces, especially those in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2014, when Russia attacked Ukraine, in the West, at first there was some embarrassment due to the "green men" in Crimea. Me and my colleagues at the Alliance then realized that these were Russian soldiers, but some still had doubts. Subsequently, when Russia invaded the Donbas, NATO questioned how to define this type of conflict: either as a classic war or something else. Then the term "hybrid war" was mentioned, which was officially used to define such kind of Russian asymmetric actions. The word "hybrid" has a Latin origin and means "a child from a mixed marriage". And although this is not an ideal term, he best describes the mixed type of war. However, not only hybrid nature makes the hybrid war what it is. Quite naturally, when a country begins a war, it uses both military and non-military means such as humanitarian assistance, political activities, social networks, etc.

In addition to a wide range of non-military means, hybrid warfare also involves cheating and denial. For example, Russia attacked Ukraine and annexed the Crimea, but denied the participation of Russian troops and argued that it was only trying to help and protect Russian-speakers. Thus, this Russian way of fighting is not a new phenomenon, since this country has used similar methods for centuries. If you take the Yekaterina II manifesto of April 19, 1783, replacing the Russian spelling of that time with out-of-date sentences, then the document that you could get as a result could be graciously signed by Vladimir Putin. The manifesto clearly shows that in the XVIII century, Russia carried out a hybrid campaign to conquer the Crimea, which included political, diplomatic, legal, social, economic, intelligence and military efforts. The Kremlin uses these tools even today. Similarly, in Soviet times, he resorted not only to military means, but also to propaganda and misinformation in support of political confrontation with the democratic West. The scientific works of a number of Soviet military theorists of the 1920s, such as Svechin and Isserson, which were largely underestimated and not perceived before the Second World War, were re-opened and widely used in the so-called Gerasimov model of the hybrid war, which the Russian leadership initially called "war" new generation ".

Is there still something new in this Russian theory?

- The basic principles of the hybrid war in the Soviet style are almost a hundred years old, but the main feature is that in the modern world it is not declared openly, but maybe started after the secret deployment of troops. And the preference is given to actions not so much in the military plane as in the political one. The new collection is the collection of all these different methods and tools and their presentation within the framework of a single model in the article by General Gerasimov since February 2013. British scientist Mark Gallateti called her "Gerasimov's strategy" when he first analyzed in June 2014, although he recently opposed the use of this definition. In my opinion, the model of the Gerasimov, though in itself it is not a complete hybrid strategy, has two elements in its basis. First descriptive: how Russia perceives modern warfare, where the ratio of non-military and military means is 4 to 1. The second element of the order: Gerasimov gives directions to both commanders and military theorists on how to respond to these challenges and how to use the tools of the hybrid war in their favor. In the end, it would be fair to say that his work since 2013 has shaped the doctrine of the Russian hybrid war because they are not only analytical in designation but also prescribe concrete ways in which Russian troops should seize an initiative in a world where information warfare often dominates on the battlefield.

Today, one of the new elements is the technological innovations that Russia uses in hybrid campaigns, among which the most prominent is cyber weapons.

This is the main Russian instrument for penetrating into the enemy's camp, and it is about the entire society, and not just about the armed forces.

Another innovation is the high degree of integration when it comes to media tools such as disinformation, propaganda, fake news and "troll factories." Thus, the main pillars of the Russian hybrid war today are information weapons and cybercrime. There is also a third, which I study from 2014, and it is no less important or dangerous. This is the use of Russian legislation as a weapon, turning it into a means of combating international and domestic law. The term, which was first used in the United States in 2008, is lawfare (legal warfare). This is an extremely important tool, not a product of boring theoretical legal debate. Legislation gives Russia the ability to call their aggressions legal. For example, say that it did not occupy the Crimea, but annexed to the Russian Federation as if it were quite legitimate, because a so-called referendum took place. Her position - everything happened in accordance with the current normative acts, since Crimeans have the right to self-determination. She uses Kosovo's example to justify her actions and, at the same time, changes legal interpretations and creates some new obstacles.

In the end, whenever Russia violates international law, it claims that its actions, on the contrary, are in line with it. This legal weapon has been used for centuries since 1654 (against Ukraine) and from 1774 (war against the Ottomans), but now it is much improved. In addition, the Russian Federation is very much in favor of the veto in the UN Security Council.

As an instrument of hybrid war, Russia also uses economic weapons. In the classical traditional war between the two countries, the parties usually break all ties, including trade. However, Ukraine still has economic relations with the aggressor, in particular, purchases Russian gas. In a hybrid context, Moscow uses this tool to continue to keep Kiev in its orbit.

Another tool is the financial and banking sectors. Can you imagine that American banks were working in Germany or Japan during the Second World War? But Russian institutions in Ukraine are still functioning.

The Kremlin has somehow deployed civilian infrastructure for military purposes, especially in the Donbass. In the summer of 2014, Russian agents began systematically attacking Donetsk and Luhansk's electric and water supply facilities, hospitals, schools and civilian infrastructure to provoke a humanitarian crisis in which Russia officially accused the Ukrainian side. She even tried to write petitions to the UN to justify her intervention disguised as a humanitarian mission. This technique was originally tested in Ukraine, but then in 2015, it was applied in Syria against the opposition there.

Last but not least, the Kremlin also uses criminal elements as a hybrid warfare tool. Moscow has adopted criminal syndicates, they are protected by Russian intelligence services, and they operate across Europe and globally.

What can you say about military instruments?

- In the 1980s, the Soviet leadership realized that from the point of view of military technology, they were lagging behind the United States. After the crisis that broke out in the United States after the end of the Vietnam War, President Reagan managed to rebuild its army, make it professional and attract large investments into the defense industry, especially in computer systems. As long as the US rebuilt and reformed its army, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. At the European theater of war, he tried and tried to implement the so-called doctrine of Ogarqov, whose goal was to break through the defense of NATO in Western Europe. However, the USSR lagged behind the West and the United States due to lack of computer technology, and the first 10 years after its collapse, funding was limited. Therefore, there was a desire for genuine innovation. When Putin and his entourage came to power,

In the end, the existing limitations of Russian military force force the country's leadership to adapt its methods and tasks, to move from open-ended inventions based on strong conventional force to more hidden and accessible campaigns based on asymmetric methods. The purpose of the Russians is not a direct military conquest, but a division of the West, slowing down or even preventing a coordinated NATO response. Of course, military options are always available, since Russian doctrine implies the use of even tactical nuclear weapons to quickly dispel the conflict at an early stage and force the Alliance to surrender and retreat, striking some of its deployed forces. The Kremlin's plan is as follows: some NATO members may decide not to fight for some small part of the occupied territory of one of the member countries in Eastern Europe, if Russia threatens to destroy the European capital by nuclear weapons. This is a false plan, but very dangerous. Since Russian commanders can eventually convince themselves that they are able to win a nuclear game, "who is the first to be afraid" with the Alliance.

And this in a way coincides with what Putin recently said during the Valdai Discussion Forum.

"Putin's statements were a clear indication that higher Russian political leadership is actually losing touch with reality. Putin is clearly trying to scare the West, but he seems to have surrounded himself with people who constantly feed his conspiracy theories instead of telling him the truth. On the one hand, they thus further form the mentality of the "besieged fortress", and on the other - they try to prevent so-called color revolutions. The regimes that come to power in an illegal way are always afraid that someone else will one day challenge them and seize power. I call it Chronos syndrome. Chronos in Greek mythology is the god of times. After he dropped his father, the god of heaven, he became worried that his children, also the gods of Olympus, would do the same to him. I think this is a good psychological explanation of the behavior of the Kremlin elite. That is why Putin argued that allegedly in 2014 the CIA had paid $ 5 million for organizing the Maidan. Even if they do not really believe in all this lies and conspiracies, every day the Russian leadership - Putin, Lavrov, Shoigu - repeats the same narratives. In addition, they act as if they believe it is real. And what is most dangerous, this behavior is influenced by ordinary Russian citizens.

In this sense, the success of reforms and democratic processes in Ukraine is the only positive step that can inspire the Russian people, especially young people. That people see that another model of governance and political development is possible. The current corrupt, oligarchic, resembling a Mafia model under the control of the KGB leads nowhere. The Russian people deserve to live in democracy, but this can not be imposed by force from the outside. That is why the battle for Ukraine is also a battle for the future of Russian democracy. So the ability to stop the Kremlin's hybrid car in Ukraine is not only a military issue, but a struggle for the future of the entire European continent.

What new methods of warfare you see in other countries around the world?

- The paradox is that generals always try to use the experience of past wars. When the September 11 attacks occurred, there was still an army of the Cold War in the United States at that time. There was a need to adapt to a new, more flexible environment in which rebels and terrorist organizations used culture and religion as weapons. Thus, for almost two decades, the United States has been developing new military capabilities to better respond to this type of war. Unfortunately, we have forgotten some of the tactics of the Cold War. When the RF attacked Ukraine, the United States realized that its army was well developed, if not the best, for example in the area of electronic warfare, artillery, and the like. US and NATO forces in Europe need to increase their mobility and logistics capabilities for faster troop relocation.

We also began to study in Ukraine, because your army is the only one in Europe to successfully fight the Russian hybrid car. You actually proved that General Gerasimov was wrong when he said that the hybrid war is a blitzkrieg of the twenty-first century, which allows you to quickly capture the country. The game of Russia - the ability to catch their opponents unprepared, but in the case of Ukraine it did not work, did not meet their expectations. Thus, the lessons you have learned from the war are priceless for the West, albeit tragic for your people.

Another area where Russian troops improved their capabilities is the widespread use of drones for intelligence and targeting, as well as the means of electronic warfare. All these innovations have allowed Russia to create a so-called Anti-Access and Area Denial (A2AD) area, a kind of "bubble" over Crimea and Kaliningrad. Thus, the Russian Federation is trying to prevent the penetration of NATO forces, in particular fleets and air forces. And if you have enough long-range artillery and hypersonic weapons, then you can break into these "bubbles."

And the last lesson is a principle formulated by General Gerasimov, according to which hybrid elements will be used in all conventional wars in the future, the focus will be on special forces rather than ordinary masses. We, the West and Ukraine, have to prepare for this as the army improves and develops and both sides learn from the successes and mistakes of others.

At the same time, the United States has faced a probability of conflict not only with Russia, but also with China, which is demonstrating an increasing desire for military expansion.

- Some analysts believe that we are about 15 years from the probable start of the war with China. If you look at history, then in the 1930s, US military began to realize the great likelihood of a future war with Japan. Although the United States did not want to resolve it, we began to invest in the development of the Navy. So there were aircraft carriers, which at that time were a new type of vessel. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and destroyed a number of the most powerful warships, it did not have a decisive impact on US capabilities at sea, because they were able to build several aircraft carriers. America managed to turn the initiative and push out the Japanese forces from the Pacific Ocean. And literally a few months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, she caused the first air strike on Japan from an aircraft carrier. This means that, even if you do not want a war, one must think about such an opportunity and prepare for it. In the case of the People's Republic of China, it is likely that there is also the same thought. The Chinese are building new bases, using legislation as weapons to legalize artificially created islands in the South China Sea. Thus, they are to some degree studying in Russia. I do not think that war is inevitable, but we must learn from our experience in the twentieth century. As the old Romans said, "if you want peace, prepare for war." Hope, of course, is that both sides will see how strong the enemy is, and not be caught on the attack. but we have to learn from our experience in the twentieth century. As the old Romans said, "if you want peace, prepare for war." Hope, of course, is that both sides will see how strong the enemy is, and not be caught on the attack. but we have to learn from our experience in the twentieth century. As the old Romans said, "if you want peace, prepare for war." Hope, of course, is that both sides will see how strong the enemy is, and not be caught on the attack.

However, this may give rise to a new arms race.

- So. This is another of the oldest principles of international relations, called "security dilemma". This is exactly the reason for the Peloponnesian wars in the IV century BC. e., when the growing power of Athens so excited Sparta that she decided to attack the first. Germany acted on this logic in the First World War, because it was concerned that in the future there would be no military superiority over the Russian military machine. It is always a problem, and it is based on perceptions of threats that determine the behavior of the political leadership of the Russian Federation and China.

At the same time, the development and strengthening of conventional armies, deploying them closer to the borders increases the risk of a conflict arising out of a casual incident.

- The probability of miscalculation, which can lead to a big conflict, always worries. But let's look at real examples. The Russian plane, shot down by the Turkish military, did not cause a convention war between the two countries. Another incident: the destruction of the Wagner group in Syria by the US Air Force, when more than 200 Russian mercenaries were killed, also did not cause any conventional response from Russia. Of course, there may be other types of non-standard asymmetric responses; this is, after all, the essence of the hybrid war. However, any defensive formation should calculate the probability of occurrence of such incidents, but at the same time, there should be no irrational fear that a separate miscalculation will immediately lead to a war. It does not mean Russia's automatic response to such events, at least not by conventional means.

Credit: Ms. Yuri Lapayev with The Ukrainian Week

Littoral OpTech-North Workshop: In Review

Between October 16th - 18th The New Generation Warfare Centre team attended the Littoral Optech-North workshop in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Videography and editing: Mr. Nicklas Gustafsson at Arctistic AB

NGWC Team Leads Scenario Exercise at Littoral Optech-North Workshop

Between October 16th - 18th The New Generation Warfare Centre team attended the Littoral Optech-North workshop in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Sponsored by Saab, COVE, NSCC, The Royal Canadian Navy, and The Naval Postgraduate School LOC, the three day workshop focused on “the colder littorals” of the Arctic environment and marked the fourth in a series of regionally focused Littoral Operations and Technology Workshops. The Littoral OpTech Workshop series gathers defence leaders, scientists, analysts, and experts from Government, Academia, and Industry to explore the unique operational and technological challenges in and along the littoral waters of the globe.

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For working purposes, a militarily useful definition of the littoral is the near shore area where complexity and risk rapidly expand within all domains Cyber, Land, Air, Maritime and Space (CLAMS). In this area one confronts high clutter and anti-access strategies across manifold, overlapping boundaries that generate area specific operating conditions and the need for tailored operations with advanced technologies.

OpTech workshops foster close collaboration with allies and partners and expand operational perspectives and the awareness of advanced technology solutions. The NGWC team participated throughout the three days and conducted a Full Spectrum Deterrence Scenario Exercise to allow participants to test concepts and explore collaborative solutions to a crisis scenario in the Arctic littorals.

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Picture credit: Mr. Nicklas Gustafsson at Arctistic AB

Phillip A. Petersen: “We thought ideological competition was over, but it just shifted”

The Ukrainian Week - During the 28th Economic Forum in Krynica-Zdrój (Poland) The Ukrainian Week discussed with the President of the Center for the Study of New Generation Warfare about the situation in the Black Sea and the historical and modern aspects of the confrontation between the USA and Russia.

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First of all, what is new generation warfare?

– We at the Centre for the Study of New Generation Warfare don’t like using the term “hybrid warfare” because so many people in the West have preconceptions as to what hybrid warfare is. Since the Russians refer to it as new generation warfare, we prefer to use that term since it avoids all the Western preconceptions. The Russians have identified nine elements of new generation warfare:

  1. Non-military asymmetric warfare to establish favorable socio-economic and political environment

  2. Special operations to misdirect elites

  3. Intimidation, fraud, bribery

  4. Destabilization operations & organization of militant opposition

  5. Introduction of armed insurgents & support thereof

  6. Clandestine military intervention

  7. Use of EW & high-tech reconnaissance to facilitate the destruction of resisting forces

  8. Overt intervention to occupy territory and suppress any remaining resistance

  9. Threats to use nuclear weapons, and to use precision weapons to destroy nuclear power plants, chemical industry facilities & large hydro-electric power plants.

Note that only two of the nine elements involve an overt, kinetic aspect. European experts tend to talk about only the first eight, ignoring the ninth (threat of tactical nuclear weapons). We would like to get people to understand that the role of nuclear weapons must be included in our examination of the war Putin already is waging upon us. Ignoring Russian modernization of its nuclear forces will not negate that reality, even if it is an inconvenient truth. The Russians designed sub-kiloton weapons that are so discreet, that it would be difficult in a crisis to determine whether a strike was undertaken with thermobaric weapons or nuclear weapons. If deterrence is in the “eye of the beholder,” how are we going to persuade our political leaders that nuclear weapons have been employed, when we might not be able to say with certainty that is what happened, especially when Moscow will be claiming the strikes were not nuclear? This is just one aspect of Russia’s contemporary approach to the war Moscow is waging upon us now. All nine elements of Russia’s new generation warfare are seamlessly integrated, and employed in shifting combinations, with the various elements being emphasized in different ways over the course of each phase of each of Putin’s operations against us.

The goal of Putin’s policy is to separate America from Europe, and to break down the unity of NATO and the European Union. The Brexit referendum was, to a large extent promoted by, and probably ultimately determined by, Russian information warfare operations. Just as Moscow effectively manipulated legitimate concerns in Britain, it managed to move its informational warfare campaign from Ukraine to the United States in time to influence the results of the 2016 Presidential Election. All of this is a part of New Generation Warfare, using a wide range of tools (most of them not traditionally categorized as “warfare”). Kremlin propagandist Dmitry Kieselev observed that “information warfare is now the main type of war, preparing the way for military action.”

We need to face the reality that ever since the 1993 Constitutional Crisis in Russia, Moscow has perceived itself as at war with the liberal democracies of the West. While we in the West accepted that the dialectical competition between Capitalism and Communism had ended in victory (i.e., “the end of history”), we therefore assumed that ideological competition was over. Instead, it just shifted to a struggle between liberal and illiberal forms of democracy (i.e., everyone gets to vote – at least mostly everyone, since voter suppression techniques can be employed to reduce the size of the opposition vote – and other techniques such as gerrymandering can insure that not all votes are equal – and many other techniques can be employed to eliminate competitive candidates). The ideological struggle is now over “free and fair elections”. Even Putin wants to be able to mobilize “public support” in the form of electoral victories to support his political actions. Officially, Russia is a democracy – although a “vertical” democracy – in which an authoritarian leader proposes, and his subjects have the opportunity to support him, but the elections are neither free nor fair. While elections can be useful in establishing legitimacy both domestically and internationally, illiberal democracy promotes a majoritarianism that limits the liberal principle of freedom by appeasing those capable of usurping power with money and securing cooperation of the masses with disdain for minorities.

So, Russia exports this illiberal order to their neighborhood?

– Actually, Putin would like to promote illiberal democracy everywhere. In some ways, however, it was the young people of Ukraine who forced his hand when they twice rejected illiberal democracy. The young people refused to have their futures robbed by an illiberal democracy in Kyiv; they looked at the accomplishments of the Poles and understood that they too could live lives more freely and with greater economic comfort. To counter this threat, Moscow spread the myth that it was all about America provoking political upheaval in Ukraine; that it was all about America and the Europeans pushing eastward (hence, threatening Russia) rather than Ukrainians wanting to move “westwards” if you will. Putin’s illiberal democracy would not survive long in a world where Ukrainian citizens lived visibly better than Russian citizens, so he struck at Ukraine’s weakest places – that is, in those regions where Kyiv most visibly failed in “state building.” Once Russia was at the point of waging kinetic war against Ukraine – and here it is important to note that Moscow still has not admitted that it is waging war – eventually economic sanctions were the result. Putin told his generals not to worry about sanctions, arguing that they would not last longer than six months. Along with the drop in oil prices, the sanctions have crippled Putin’s regime, and it has been Putin’s attempt to remove the sanctions that have been the driving force behind the information warfare conducted against the United States since the 2016 Presidential Campaign.

Do you think the reaction of USA is adequate to Russian behavior?

– No, it’s not. Certainly, if Ronald Reagan were President today, there would be far different reaction. First of all, he was a great communicator, so he would have more effectively mobilized America. Secondly, Reagan’s values were fundamentally different that the current occupant of the White House. Unfortunately, we have a new environment, and this goes back to the fact that all liberal democracies are under attack. The non-kinetic elements of this warfare are directed at dividing our publics, with the goal of promoting what has been called “tribalism.” We know for a fact that, pretending to be Americans or Brits, the Russians organized demonstrations and counterdemonstrations. We also know that in some cases, the Russians provided funds to support both the demonstration and the counterdemonstration. These activities have not stopped, as the US intelligence has publicly identified a number of cases where the Russians are now interfering in this year’s US Congressional Elections. It is critical to intensify economic sanctions against this Russian behavior, as well as identify additional tools with which to fight back against the information warfare being waged against us. The modest recovery in oil prices since 2016 has lessened somewhat the impact of sanctions on the Russian economy, making the search for additional tools even more necessary.

Some experts are saying that the pro-Russian position of Trump makes it harder to respond to aggression properly. Do you agree with that?

– I think it is a very complex political situation in the United States. The call by Karl Rove in 2001 to create a “permanent Republican majority” led to an effort to seize control of the instruments of the American Federal system of governing so that a minority of voters could impose its will on the majority. While Rove and many other Republicans intended to employ the political instruments of American Federalism – the Courts and State Legislatures – to roll back the socio-economic achievements of the Greatest Generation (i.e., those who fought and won the Second World War), they never anticipated a populist coup that would attempt to employ these instruments to destroy our liberal democratic institutions. There is, in fact, a second American Civil War being waged today between those committed to liberal democracy on one side, and a range of interests on the other side that either support illiberal democracy or are willing to accept the destruction of the American Experiment. It is probably the most important political struggle since America’s War for Independence. Both inside and outside of the United States Government there are people of integrity willing to defend our liberal democracy and oppose Putin’s aggression. I believe that it is fair to say that, whatever President’s Trump’s personal attitude is to Putin and his illiberal democracy model, it is fortunate that the State and Defense Departments as institutions have pretty much conducted business as usual. What causes us concern, however, is the possibility that after the November elections, President Trump may remove Secretary Mattis and replace him with someone more attuned to the U.S. President’s view of the world.

But some information shows that economic sanctions do not work, like the Siemens case and the Nord Stream 2 project.

– I do believe that such exceptions as those you mention will mitigate the effect of current economic sanctions and will buy more time for Putin. This is not to argue, however, that sanctions are not effective. If you look at the meeting in Trump tower, what it was about? It was about removing sanctions. Putin is doing everything he can to find ways to weaken or cancel the sanctions. Where is the T-14 Armatatank production? The Russians cannot produce many of these tanks because they require foreign-made parts that can no longer be imported. Sanctions are slowly shifting the balance of power in terms of combat arms. One of the most effective sanctions is to prevent the travel and to seize the property of corrupt Russian officials (which means most of them). While the wealthy in Russia want to live comfortably at home, living well includes enjoying travel to and educating their children in the West. I understand the seizure of Russian-owned personal property in the New York and London would have negative impact upon local property values, but these assets should be used to help pay for reconstruction in Ukraine and Syria (after Assad has departed the political scene).

Coming back to Ukraine and NGW, what are the perspectives for our country, in your opinion?

– The sanctions imposed against Russia’s policies are backing Putin into a corner financially; especially with Crimea, because it is costing so much. He needs to solve this problem, and I give it a significant probability that he will launch an offensive to create Novorossiya. Such action would lead to an East-West crisis because it would produce millions of refugees. Poland could not accept that number of refugees, so it would act to prevent such a large flow of refugees. I would expect the US, UK, Denmark and Sweden would probably support Poland. We could very easily have a situation where it starts out with an effort to keep Ukrainian refugees in Ukraine by established refugee centers in Ukraine that, in turn, might become an obligation to provide security for those centers. Then you would have a situation in which both Western and Russian armed forces would be in Ukraine. Some governments, like the Italian or Hungarian for example, would refuse to participate, but it would be an immediate political issue in the United States. The Polish minority in US is decisive in Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and they would be highly vocal in favor of the US government supporting Poland. This would be one of my greatest concerns, that Putin would over-estimate President Trump’s ability to constrain political forces in the United States.

Is the United States interested in the collapse of the Russian Federation?

– I would like to address some myths generated by Moscow. The first is that the USA “collapsed” the Soviet Union. I can tell you categorically, that is not true. I was in the United States Government during that time and, in fact, I was attempting to warn the Pentagon that Soviet collapse was a possibility, if not likely. The Administration did not want the USSR to collapse and was actually trying to preserve it. The Soviet Union collapsed because of its own internal stupidities; Gorbachev, himself, had no clue that the so-called “Soviet man” simply did not exist. The second myth of that period is that USA give no assistance to Russia. I was personally involved in the United States Industrial Coalition program to provide assistance in transparent employment for scientists formally engaged in weapons of mass destruction work. The idea was to prevent them from getting involved in producing weapons of mass destruction for rogue states like North Korea. We spent billions of dollars, for example, to create jobs for Russians to safely dispose of nuclear reactors in decommissioned submarines. While we were subsidizing Moscow’s responsibility for environmental security it was, in turn, investing in the construction of new submarines that now are targeting America. The Russians never want to take responsibility, whether it is for their country’s policies or for the outcomes of those policies; it’s always someone else’s fault. The bottom line is that America has only positive wishes for the peoples of the Russian Federation. We would welcome and be a close ally of a strong and liberal democratic state in Eurasia.

What about the energy deal Putin signed with China?

– In my opinion, the energy deal was an act of treason; a true betrayal of the interests of the peoples of Russia. Essentially, the Chinese agreed to provide Russia with enough money to create the infrastructure necessary to move oil and gas to China. The energy, however, will not be transported to ports where it can be placed on the international marketplace. Energy is a fungible commodity but, when all of this is done, the infrastructure being built will not allow Russia to sell to anyone but the Chinese. The Chinese, on the on the other hand, will be able to argue for prices below market because there will be no alternative for the Russians but to undercut prices China will be able to get on the world market. On the surface, the deal looks economically dubious, but it’s even more grim from an operational-strategic security perspective. The construction of the pipelines means creation of a highspeed access of advance because construction and maintenance will require roads straight into the depth of Siberia, and even Russia itself. In fact, over the past several years Chinese Army strategic exercises against the Russian Federation have included the “deeper” objective of Kazan and the Volga River instead of the Ural Mountains.

What can be another area of instability?

– The USSR – and now Russia – refer to Crimea as their “unsinkable aircraft carrier” in the Black Sea. Because the Russian General Staff saw no practical alternative to Crimea, they were looking for the opportunity to take it back. Now Russian admirals are offending the Turks by arguing that this action has made Russia the predominate power in the Black Sea. While Turkey’s President Erdogan has transformed the country into an illiberal democracy, it doesn’t mean that Turkey and Russia will become allies. Since their national interests are still fundamentally opposed to each other, the new geostrategic situation in the Black Sea has become a much more complex and dangerous place. The Black Sea is no longer a “European Lake”, but it is very far from having become a “Russian Lake” as it once was a Soviet Lake.


Dr. Phillip A. Petersen has a Ph.D. from University of Illinois, M.S. from Western Michigan University, and a B.S. in Ed. From Central Michigan University. For fifteen years he served as a United States Army officer, an intelligence analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency, and a policy analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and at the National Defense University. Later Dr. Petersen conducted a three-year interview project for The Potomac Foundation on Security Policy in the Post-Soviet Republics. He has served as Senior Consultant to the President of the United States Industry Coalition for the Department of Energy’s Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention Program and was a Founding Director of the not-for-profit Institute for Applied Science. From 2013 through the end of 2017 he served as Vice President for Studies at The Potomac Foundation Potomac, and now serves as President of the Center for the Study of New Generation Warfare. Dr. Petersen has authored some 80 publications on international security issues

U.S. NGW Centre offers Ukraine's defense sector modeling technologies for carrying out command and staff exercises

Interfax-Ukraine - The American-based Center for the Study of New Generation Warfare (NGW Center) has developed advanced technologies of computer modelling for conducting command and staff exercises at the operational-strategic level for the defense sector of Ukraine.

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According to the report of the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies (CACDS), the possibilities of the new software platform CONFLICT, developed by the American partners, used to simulate the development of situations during military conflicts, has been recently presented to Ukrainian military specialists in Kyiv.

According to the NGW Center, from the beginning of military aggression against Ukraine, the Russian Federation uses the country's territory as a test site for a wide range of new kinetic and non-kinetic weapons - from cyber attacks to thermobaric ammunition. This actualized the need for understanding and modeling next generation conflicts with the goal of developing effective tools for their neutralization.

According to the estimates of the American company, the expanded use of the next generation military methods in the course of the Russian military operation in Ukraine requires the highest military and political leadership of the state to timely understand the changes in the environment and the situation, be ready for updating and specifying the general knowledge, and be able to develop solutions given logistical capabilities and the method of simulation and analysis.

The new software product is intended for use by the military and political leadership of the state to study alternatives to the development of the situation and forecast possible results of military operations.

Making the Kremlin Believe that it's More Advantageous to Cooperate is Quite Difficult

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Visegrad Insight - The West has to understand the way of Russian military thinking in order to be able to respond to the Kremlin’s moves. Russia is unlikely to invade the Baltic states, however, it will be worth it to pay attention to Belarus this year.

Although “hybrid warfare” is the most commonly used term for referring to Russian activities in Ukraine, there is no agreed definition of the terms related to it. In your recent study, you stated that “hybrid is wrong” and New Generation Warfare should be used instead. What is your argumentation?

The term “Hybrid” was used to characterize warfare in the beginning of the 1990s in a master thesis written at the US War College, but it became famous after Frank Hoffman used it to describe Hezbollah’s tactics during the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in the 2000s. The problem with this definition is that it does not entirely reflect the whole spectrum of Russian strategy, although it can be part of it. The attractiveness of the term is probably that the word “hybrid” can mean anything. It became a buzzword after General Skip Davis used it during a briefing at NATO, but he personally told me that he never wanted “Hybrid” to become a buzzword.

After reading more than 25 years of Russian military literature in the archives, it’s clear that the Russians themselves refer to their strategy as “New Generation Warfare.” In short, the basis of it is asymmetric warfare and its main elements are Low-Intensity Conflict, Sixth Generation Warfare, and Network Centric Warfare, having Reflexive Control (the art of making your opponent do what you want it to without the opponent realizing it) as an auxiliary instrument. For example, Sixth Generation Warfare is about non-contact warfare using high-precision artillery, which is what happened during operation Desert Storm. Network Centric Warfare envisages using smaller military units sharing the same information space. This isn’t Hybrid Warfare in any way.

If there is no expert consensus on this, how is it possible for experts at NATO, for example, to measure the threat the military alliance face every single say?

The problem is that the experts don’t read Russian professional literature. They try to fit the Russian strategy into Western concepts, ending up with some reductionism or simplification. They need to learn to think as Russian officers. The most important thing is to go beyond that. It is to accept that the Russians think differently, they have a different military culture which is the result of centuries of their own historical development. Besides, it’s very much necessary to understand that Russia doesn’t see itself as part of the West, but rather as a Eurasian country. As such, although the West is an important partner, in many cases there are different strategic interests. Besides, the Russians see our actions from another perspective. For them, for example, the United States is to blame for DAESH and the global spread of terrorism, although this is a simplistic understanding of the roots of terrorism. The result is that in many cases they are convinced that our actions jeopardize their security. In short, it is necessary to develop critical thinking. To use an American saying I heard from a Hungarian military officer, you don’t need to think outside the box, you need to think without the box.

You wrote that in Ukraine, New Generation Warfare was mostly based on asymmetric warfare and Low Intensity Conflict. What is your opinion about the counter-measures taken by Kiev?

In the beginning, the Ukrainians were very badly prepared, but it’s amazing how they were able to organize themselves. They learned very quickly what had to be done, but it’s clear they lacked capabilities, both in training and hardware. Low Intensity Conflict is a form of asymmetric warfare. Thus, the way to deal with it has to be asymmetric too. This means that the Ukrainians should have developed such capabilities to be stronger than their opponents within the same tactics. This means that the Ukrainians must use the same tactics to utilize the same skills to become stronger than their opponents.

According to General Gerasimov’s opinion, every conflict has its set of rules and therefore requires unique ways and means. Taking this into account, how hard it is to predict the Kremlin’s strategy? How does the Ukrainian conflict differ from the Georgian War for example?

We should pay attention to this idea. Russia’s strategy is very Clausewitzian with some influence from Sun Tzu. It’s about achieving strategic political objectives using the minimum effort. Therefore, warfare is more than a simply armed conflict, it’s rather the combination of military and non-military means, the result of which is that for each specific tactical objectives and war theater a different strategy is needed. For example, the tactical base for Ukraine is Low-Intensity Conflict, while in Georgia it was more like conventional linear tactics.

Let’s talk about the nature of all-out information warfare, which is of equal importance to land, sea and air warfare in Russian terminology. The main aim is to confuse, not to convince. Can Europe defeat the disinformation war? What would be the best strategy against this warfare and what would your advice be for Central and Eastern European countries?

This sort of information warfare can only work if the seeds for its success are already there. For example, to what extent were the alleged Russian operations aimed to influence the American people and help Trump win the election really decisive? I’m convinced that with or without the Russian operations Trump would have won the election. Was Brexit the result of Russian operations? Of course not. In fact, both are the results of common people being tired of politicians and civil servants making policies which benefit either the financial system or the very rich, hoping that the result will be greater employment or wages. Reality is far from that. The point is that Western politicians and civil servants need to practice deep self-criticism to understand why there’s a huge dissatisfaction with the current Western political system and its policies. This is the base on which Russia can operate, aiming to delegitimize Western democracy as a credible system. More precisely it is necessary to:

  • Monitor the information environment and resilience: the concept „resilience to information warfare” must be operationalized by setting measurable criteria for monitoring it on a regular basis. For example, the audit of information-related processes at a technological level and measuring the willingness to defend a given country, trust in state institutions and other indicators at a cognitive level.

  • A comprehensive system of monitoring and analysis of hostile activities in the information environment should be implemented, including such domains as the internet, media, social media.

  • Enhancing resilience at a cognitive level: this is the most complex part. It is necessary to explain adversaries’ strategic goals and the tools of their implementation. Also, implementing national-level strategic communication programs for winning the hearts and minds of our own societies. The main task is to decrease the gap between governments and societies, which is the main vulnerability that can be used as a leverage by adversaries. Enhancing the critical thinking skills of our own societies. This is the best way to provide information environment security, while not giving up democratic freedoms. Enhancing high-quality journalism, because media business logic and the mediatization of politics are two main drivers of the post-truth phenomenon. And last but not least: it is important to look for ways how governments and societies could interact directly, without the media, because this way politicians and state officials can explain their policies and also get direct feedback from society.

How do you see the relevance of the EU-sanctions against Russia? The prime minister of Hungary argued that non-economic problems cannot be solved by economic means. Contrary to this, Edgars Rinkēvičs Latvian MFA said that the sanctions had served their purpose. In your opinion is there any other tool for the West to use to pressure the Kremlin?

The sanctions have been successful as punishment, but not in forcing Russia to get out of Crimea or Eastern Ukraine. As Sergey Kagaranov, the honorary head of the Presidium of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy of the Russian Federation recently said, Russia and Europe are facing a civilizational divorce. Russia and Europe’s strategic interests are increasingly different and it’s clear that Russia is willing to use military power to achieve them. One way is dialogue from a position of strength after understanding which are Russia’s strategic objectives. Another is to construct mutual interests, making the Kremlin believe that it’s more advantageous to cooperate. In reality, it’s quite difficult.

In Riga, 40 percent of the Latvian population speak Russian. How does the Kremlin use them as a tool to increase Russian influence within the country?

With very limited success. The Russian-speaking population is not uniform and I would say this division is too reductionist. I don’t believe they are a fifth column or something like that. In any case, there is solid research showing that they don’t want to live in Russia or under Russian occupied territories. For example, they’re emigrating to other EU countries and not to Russia or any of the CIS. Nevertheless, Russia tries to influence them to support the political agenda of some specific political parties.

Sir Richard Schirreff, a former general of NATO has written a book about an upcoming war between the NATO and Russia. In his military fiction, the Baltics end up being invaded by Russia. What is your opinion about his prophecy, is there any real chance for this scenario?

All scenarios must be taken into consideration for military planning, including Russia invading the Baltics. Although I expect the Russian General Staff has plans which include such scenario, I don’t think the Baltics are Russia’s first priority for preoccupation due to the fact that we’re NATO members and the deployment of allied troops and hardware in our territory. Even though these are insufficient to engage in an offensive against Russia, they are strong enough to work as deterrence. Therefore, I would rather look to the CIS, which are neither NATO or EU countries. Many are saying that the 2017 ZAPAD exercise in September might result in problems to Belarus, but this is only speculation.

Edit Zgut is foreign policy analyst at Political Capital.

Jānis Bērziņš, the director of the Center for Security and Strategic Research in Riga.

The interview was first published at the Political Capital Blog and subsequently at Visegrad Insight.