Small Wars Journal

Russia

Hybrid Warfare and Active Measures

Sun, 10/10/2021 - 3:50am
Modern Russian intelligence operations, cyber intrusions and influence operations have found both potency in the proliferation of social media technologies and a receptive target in the existing political and social divisions in the United States. Media reports, including dramatic documentaries and breathless biopics on the ten Russian “illegals” arrested in 2010, create perceptions of either a newly developed Russian playbook or a full-scale return to the Cold War era of spy-vs-spy. Neither perspective is entirely accurate.

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NATO Is in a Cyberwar with Russia and Must Expand Article 5 to Include Cyberwarfare or Risk Losing and Diminishment

Fri, 09/24/2021 - 1:59am
Article 5 of NATO’s foundational 1949 North Atlantic Treaty demands that if an “armed attack” is carried out against even just one member state, all other member states “shall” consider that attack (and any armed attack) on a member state “an attack against them all” and “will assist,” up to and “including the use of armed force.”  This bedrock is the centerpiece for over seven decades of the Pax Americana: the U.S.-led global system of military power, alliances, collective defense, and ability to project combined strength anywhere on the planet.  For it to continue in these roles, NATO must adapt to current and future threats by adding cyberwarfare—including information warfare—to Article 5.

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U.S. Strategy and Foreign Policy throughout the Balkans

Thu, 09/23/2021 - 5:15am
With the election of a new U.S. president comes a new foreign policy strategy. While the U.S. continues to manage the recent evacuation of forces and allies from Afghanistan, monitors the volatile situation between Israel and Hamas, and carefully listens to North Korea’s aggressive rhetoric, it must not lose focus on Russia and China. At a time when both countries continue to expand their presence in eastern Europe, it becomes evident that the U.S. must have a focused strategy within the Balkans. The recent build-up of Russian forces along the Ukrainian border in April 2021 reinforces the idea that Russia will continue to destabilize the region while China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has found its way into eastern Europe, specifically to the Balkan countries. China’s dangerous lending practices and infrastructure projects can put Balkan countries at increased risk and provide China a backdoor into Europe. The U.S. benefits from a strong E.U. and NATO as well as sustainable stability throughout Europe. Targeted support for European allies is a strong incentive for U.S. involvement in the region as the U.S. can benefit from increased stability and stronger trading partners. This was highlighted by President Biden’s recent signing of an Executive Order on June 8, 2021, that provided additional sanction authority, efforts to combat corruption, and promote accountability within the Balkans and the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Lastly, the Balkans present a unique challenge for western allies as this region simultaneously displays global competition from both Russia and China, which will require a comprehensive approach to counter their expansion effectively. 

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Russian Rear Area Operations and the Resistance Operating Concept

Wed, 09/08/2021 - 8:50pm
In 2014, the politico-military face of Europe changed considerably after the Russian Anschluss of Crimea and its follow-on subversion of, and incursion into, eastern Ukraine. While some decried Russia for “acting in a 19th-century fashion”, it became clear to many eastern and central European states, NATO members and non-members alike, that their 21st century security challenges now could include invasion and occupation by the Russian Federation. Nowhere in NATO was this challenge felt more acutely than in the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. They had regained their sovereignty after the fall of the Soviet Union, but unfortunately also regained the same geopolitical challenges to their security that they faced during their interwar existence – limited territory providing no strategic depth and a small population unable to generate conventional military forces that could deter a Kremlin hostile to their independence. In response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, NATO took specific steps to increase Baltic security. Since 2017, four multinational battlegroups totaling approximately 4,500 troops have been deployed to the Baltic states and Poland to serve as a proportionate deterrent force and to send a clear message that an attack on one would be met by troops from across the alliance. NATO has improved its security posture in the Baltics through multiple deployments and exercises and by investing in infrastructure and pre-positioned forces via the European Deterrence Initiative.

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Responding to Gray Zone Conflict: Countering Russia in the Donbas and Beyond

Mon, 06/07/2021 - 1:38pm
U.S. defense planning is hampered by a binary conception of peace and war. An effective response will require a more nuanced approach. Specifically, it will require the U.S. and its allies and partners to better equip Ukrainian forces for both kinetic and non-kinetic operations. The latter must focus on denying the opposition force, in this case Russia, the ability to remain in the Gray Zone.

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Institute for the Study of War: The Russian Military's Lessons Learned in Syria

Wed, 02/03/2021 - 9:20pm

Full Report Available Here: http://www.understandingwar.org/report/russian-military%E2%80%99s-lessons-learned-syria

 

The Russian military identifies its deployment to Syria as the prototypical example of future war—an expeditionary deployment to support a coalition-based hybrid war. The Russian General Staff cites Syria as highlighting the need for Russia to develop a new military capability—deploying flexible expeditionary forces to carry out “limited actions” abroad. The Russian Armed Forces are applying lessons learned from their experience in Syria to shape their development into a flexible and effective expeditionary force.

 

The United States must avoid projecting its own modernization priorities—or those of other competitors such as China—onto Russia. The Russian military is making discrete choices to concentrate on certain learning opportunities from Syria while rejecting or deemphasizing others. These choices are optimized to support a Russian concept of operations that is distinct from both pre-Syria Russian modernization efforts and the United States’ own modernization efforts.

 

The Russian military is using lessons learned managing an ad hoc coalition and proxy forces in Syria to inform preparations to coordinate formal coalitions in future wars. The Kremlin seeks to set conditions to ensure its next “limited action” based on Syria, as described by Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov, can leverage non-Russian forces. The Kremlin’s preparations in this regard include practicing coalition operations in exercises and expanding Russia’s international military ties—magnifying the Kremlin’s power projection capabilities.  

Avoiding War in the Arctic: A Two-Step Solution

Fri, 01/10/2020 - 10:19am
To maintain peace in the Arctic, the United States should promote international trade in the Arctic, especially with Russia while simultaneously incentivizing growth in the American Arctic. The biggest threat to peace in the Arctic is not Russian military buildup, nor Chinese investment, but Sino-Russian cooperation and coordination in the Arctic and across the Eurasian continent.

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A NATO Urban Delaying Strategy for the Baltic States

Thu, 12/19/2019 - 2:57am
Any successful Russian thrust into one or more of the Baltic States depends on the calculus of speed. They need to make the action a fait accompli before NATO reinforcement can arrive. A 2016 Rand war game indicated that current NATO capabilities cannot properly offset the Russian 6-1 armor advantage in the Baltics in a timely manner. However, if key Baltic urban areas can be turned into potential urban fortresses, the equation changes radically.

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In Libya, Peace is Possible if Foreign Interference Ends

Tue, 11/19/2019 - 4:49pm
"If foreign powers ceased their involvement in Libya, the country’s protracted civil war could come to an end quickly, said Mohamed Syala, the foreign minister of the Government of National Accord, in an interview with the U.S. Institute of Peace. The role of outside powers in Libya’s conflict has garnered renewed international attention in recent weeks as Russia has ramped up its support for Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar’s forces."

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National Security and the Arctic: Deterrence of Russian Influences in the Arctic Ocean

Sat, 11/02/2019 - 12:19am
The Arctic Sea is a significant expanse for American security and has repeatedly been under-resourced by the Department of Defense (DoD). Without access to the sea and airspace that the freedom of the seas provides, the United States’ ability to maintain a forward presence and accomplish a range of military and humanitarian assistance missions will be compromised.

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