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