Toward a theory of hybrid warfare: the Russian conduct of war during peace
Dayspring, Stephen M.
Borer, Douglas R.
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With the Russian annexation of Crimea and the undeclared conflict in eastern Ukraine, Western policy analysts have asked if Russia’s actions represent a new, more covert approach to warfare. Understanding Russia’s perspective on international relations is imperative to supporting potential targets of future Russian action, and specifically, to updating NATO’s defensive protocols that are predicated on response to clear military violations of sovereignty. This study uses an existing model for the weaponization of all instruments of state power to examine three case studies that exemplify hybrid political and military forms of war: the 2008 Russian War with Georgia, the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, and the 2014–2015 war in eastern Ukraine. This analysis reveals that the concept of hybrid warfare is often too narrowly focused on a conflict’s kinetic aspects. In practice, hybrid warfare begins by establishing strategic objectives and employing means that violate another state’s sovereignty during a time of peace. Findings further point to successful outcomes when coercive violence is timed to minimize the chances of international military response. Hybrid warfare also holds promise for other malign actors who wish to pursue objectives without directly confronting Western military strength.
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