Russian political warfare: origin, evolution, and application
Dickey, Jeffrey V.
Everett, Thomas B.
Galvach, Zane M.
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Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and subsequent activities in Eastern Ukraine are not isolated incidents, but rather a new form of hybrid war, or asymmetric warfare. They are part of a decades-long and continent-spanning Russian political warfare (PW) campaign. Analysis of the origin, history, and evolution of Soviet/Russian PW from 1917 through today reveals that Russia is using PW to assert regional dominance and challenge the unipolarity of the United States and the West. A review of events in Ukraine demonstrates Russia is using its latest evolution of PW doctrine, the Gerasimov Model, to achieve strategic objectives while remaining below the military response threshold of the international community. This paper combines an empirical and case study review of PW, with lessons from the Cold War, to propose a conceptual framework and a supporting model for foreign policy makers, planners, and practitioners to better understand PW. Furthermore, it recommends the United States adopt a proactive PW strategy to support national policy objectives and counter the PW activities of Russia and other rising powers. United States Special Operations Forces are well-suited for PW and will play a pivotal role in a U.S. PW strategy that encompasses all elements of national power and synchronizes the interagency community.
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