Talk for Article "Russia changes the rules of warfare, perfecting ‘hybrid war’"

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  1. I think what many of the commenters miss here is the change in targets.

    Of course we know that the Cold War was full of proxy wars, but the major players never attacked each other. What we have in the last 2 years is the willingness of the Russian government to direct attacks openly against other superpowers.

    I don’t think I need to point out the risks if this were to be escalated in kind. Especially in the field of cyber attacks.

  2. It’s kind of fine if we take it (and mark it) as an ‘opinion’ article, just a food for thought, so to say. And if there would be other similar articles on other issues like that, not only incriminating Russia (although I believe such articles like this are quite dangerous in a time when we’re closing to a nuclear war as they’re building up the momentum and support allegations and conspiracy theories of all kinds).

    For example, covering the US policy of overthrowing governments that has been proved in many countries and is clearly their strategy and way of their ‘hybrid war’ would be a logical step, if such articles are considered OK for WikiTribune. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_involvement_in_regime_change

    Still, these days it’s not ‘cool’ to talk about crimes of Western countries all over the world, like Israel or Saudi Arabia, so everyone’s only obsessed with picturing Russia as the Evil of the world. Sad – hoped for more critical thinking and objectivity here.

    1. To me Wikitribune and the contributors just confirm how it is almost impossible to overcome one’s inherent confirmation bias.

      1. Hi, Michael, John,

        what makes wikitribune so fascinating to me is it’s collaborative journalism approach. Why don’t you simply enhance the story with the aspects or positions that are missing?

        The faq has phased it well:
        “Is it actually possible to be completely impartial?
        No human being can ever be perfect. But we’re a community of many human beings, which will take much of the edge off people’s individual biases. And regardless of whether perfection is achievable, it’s still possible to be closer to it than other ways of working.”
        https://www.wikitribune.com/faqs-neutrality/

        1. Hi Ingrid. Thank you for your invitation but the reason i comment is that i cannot write. Sometimes i try a short piece on PB and it always gets completely ignored. No likes ,no arguments, no nothing.

          1. Hi John, oh – I am not to invite anybody, because I am just a community member (and a journalistic laywoman). I had just shared a thought of mine.

            I think, there is still the possibility to give reference to a source that you consider necessary to be included in the article, in form of a comment. Maybe, another community member who is fitter in journalistic writing will pick up your suggestion. If not, at least the source is being documented for the interested reader of the comment 🙂

  3. Thanks, terrific article.

    I had difficulty dating the Van Puyvelde piece and could only find the 2016 copywrite at the bottom. Christopher Chivvis at Rand Corp testified on the subject in March of 2017 before the House Armed Services Committee. It’s lucid, well structured and available. I’ve added a link.

    There’s perhaps a video game patina about hybrid war which may, except for all those who’ve witnessed the last three decades of slaughter up close and personal, mask our ingrained denial of the possibility of another European war. But, like it or not, Russia and Nato are gearing up. No doubt you have given much thought to this widely discussed possibility and hopefully will report about it as part of this series. I presume you’ve read the January 25 Economist piece, The odds on a conflict between the great powers, and may already have quoted from it. I’ll link it anyhow https://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21735480-great-powers-seem-have-little-appetite-full-scale-war-there-room .

    As noted on Slack, I want us to build some visuals around the military provocations and response as well as the buildup. To this end, I’ve spent too much of the day looking for a single source governmental listing of the many Russian sea and aerial incursions into and around Nato territory during the last ten years. No such luck. Many articles, but no agency seems to have created a comprehensive, publicly available list. No doubt private sources–-the Rands and Janes of life–have done this and would be glad to share for some outrageous renumeration. We need access to hard data—reincarnate Ralph Wigram!

    Anyhow great article, best I’ve read on the site.

    1. Thanks for the link and the reading suggestions. Would you like to write that story you suggested, with links and sources?

      1. This time difference between Berkeley and London is painful. In any case, I’d love to but with serious collaboration, and I would think I’d need some access to online databases to get at military events? Can I access any databases through WT, at least temporarily? Do you know of relevant public sources other than news sources?

        1. Hey Jonathan. We don’t currently have access to any online databases but if you suggest a few, I can try arranging a free trial.

          I can’t think of any relevant public sources off the top of my head that are systematically compiling this sort of information in an easily digestible way. Security and defence think-tanks and journals are probably the best place to start.

          1. Hi, let me do some homework and circle back with some potential thoughts. I am and I’m not surprised we don’t have databases–really pricey stuff. Critical matter and I’ll check. You’re on slack, I’ve invited you to join the visualization channel (you should have received the invite) and I’ll ping you when I have details.

          2. Financial databases everywhere, public paid access military databases not so much, mostly hardware like Janes.

            Different tack, I’m looking for rosters at places like this http://search.cranfield.ac.uk/s/search.html?collection=cranfield-people&query=&profile=_default&f.Theme%7Ctheme=Defence%20and%20Security&start_rank=16
            I’ll reach out to some folks and see what I can see.

            Also, been trying to pull a sitemap here https://www.realcleardefense.com
            they’re buttoned up-any ideas?

  4. US senator John McCain along with Victoria Nulan visited Ukraine shortly before the neo-nazi coup. They literally orchestrated it. And, after they won, they began a crackdown on Russians living there. They attempted to ban Russian language. They needed protection from this and clinged to Russia. Putin only did what any smart president would have done: arrange some elections. They won it by sheer majority. They took it peacefully. What invasion?

    1. We try to avoid running conspiracy theories as fact but it is fine to discuss them in TALK. The story does make clear that one of the reasons Russia developed this doctrine was because it believed others were arrayed against it, specifically with colour revolution movements. You are welcome to add factual information to the story or suggest it in TALK.

      1. What is missing is the actual factual official public release of any factual Russian doctrine of “hybrid warfare.” Western analysts assertions do not a Russian policy make. Moreover your call for facts is misplaced in an article based entirely on assertions with or without a chain of supporters.

    2. I agree. No modern description of the word “invasion” applies to the annexation of Crimea by Russia, except in the Western world. For the story(ies) to continue to propagate this falsehood is not what I expected from WikiTribune.

  5. My point is to suggest a resolution to the story. Only transparency and anti corruption can save the cesspool known as “the city of London” Every criminal organization in the world has a great deal of money parked in the city.

    1. John, blimey. We will work as best we can to get to this but it is a huge topic.

      1. I do empathize with your dilemma since i make the same kinds of boundaries around a “topic” This is an artifact of the way humans think and the way we use language. The problem is that in the real world as we now think of it, everything is connected to everything else, like an ecological system such as the weather. Complexity is upon us and the simple life for which we hanker is no longer possible.

  6. To try to address some of the comments here about “western” experts. I will here cut and paste some paragraphs from the excellent Financial Times profile of Russian General Gerasimov who has himself written the doctrine of hybrid war as carried out by Russia.
    This is not some anti-Russian point of view, it is a remarkable shift in tactics to a war played out by other means whether attempted interference in US elections (documented and agreed by all US intelligence services and more recently by the social media companies.
    It is – in essence — newsworthy.
    If we can get alternative and additional perspectives from Russians and Russian experts, we will but not if it is just to spread disinformation which has been the tactic of official Russian media so far along with various Russian politicians.

    Here are the longer Gerasimov quotes from the FT piece which in turn is from a Russian military site which is linked in George’s story for those who speak Russian:

    I put this here clearly acknowledging the FT copyright and the link to the full report is in story and here as well:
    https://www.ft.com/content/7e14a438-989b-11e7-a652-cde3f882dd7b

    “In the 21st century we have seen a tendency towards blurring the lines between the states of war and peace. Wars are no longer declared and, having begun, proceed according to an unfamiliar template,” Mr Gerasimov argued in a 2,000-word essay in February 2013 in the weekly Russian defence newspaper Military-Industrial Courier.

    “Among such actions are the use of special-operations forces and internal opposition to create a permanently operating front through the entire territory of the enemy state, as well as informational actions, devices, and means that are constantly being perfected,” he wrote.

    Transcribed from a speech made three months after his appointment as chief of the general staff, this depiction of a hybrid battleground involving “political, economic, informational, humanitarian, and other non-military measures” appeared prophetic a year later.

    1. This is not an invention of the 21st century. It was used already in the 20th century. The wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan were in fact wars between the USSR and the US without declaring war and others’ hands. (used google translate, sorry if make “mistakes”).

    2. “This is not some anti-Russian point of view, it is a remarkable shift in tactics”

      Fact: You quote Gerasimov as observing these tactic deployed by the West against Russia.

      There is a lot to back up that point of view, which is naturally unmentioned by any of the Western security authorities exclusively quoted in the article. In a context of international hostility you have literally pinned a policy on Russia by turning its own allegations upon itself by giving no voice or mention to what backs it up, and unquestioning stenography of hostile western players. That is radically improper journalism.

      Anyone can verify that the Gerasimov was right to see the tactics mentioned as Western, starting with the link below if they are so out of touch with anything but mainstream Western media.

      https://theintercept.com/2014/02/24/jtrig-manipulation/

      Furthemore, the claim that this “hybrid warfare” is now intensely waged by Russia is still taken entirely on advice of the same hostile Western authorities. No doubt those authorities are playing clean in this regard, like they did when convincing us to invade Iraq on account of WMD. All and only Russian authorities or agents are to be doubted.

      How exactly is it less tenable to imagine that, for a radical example, Skirpal was hit by some Western spook to escalate tensions than, as the article shamelessly moots, he was hit by Russians PRECISELY to escalate tensions.

      The essence of this phenomenon is not Russian or even modern. The first casualty of war has always been truth. Sun Tzu wrote the book on it, and I quote, “All warfare is based on deception.”

      1. If you can find a lucid way to report those theories please let us know.

        1. Peter, after reading all the comments in this section, I am left with the impression that your justification for the clearly biased articles against Russia can be summarized as “well, there are no reliable information sources to substantiate the Russian position and thus we will not even mention it. If you want to read something more balanced, go find your sources and write the article yourselves”. While I understand your problem, this approach will only lead to one thing and it is blatant bias. I don’t expect The Economist (a clearly anti-russian biased magazine) to spend a lot of resources to investigate the Russian claims. Would you? So, in my mind a reasonable stance is not to wait for this to happen, but to face reality and provide the Russian position, together with the western one, and mention that you have not been able to verify it, because of the lack of resources you deem reliable. Your trust in the western media is an issue, but I acknowledge that the Russian version is rarely supported by what we could call “reasonable proof”. This is largely due to the way the country operates and does not necessarily imply that they are lying about everything. A measured tone can only be achieved by showing both points of view. Then substantiate the western one with whatever resources you can find. Spend as much time on the Russian point of view and provide some historical context for some of the arguments they are making (ex. No WMD in Iraq), but say at the end that there are not claims that you have been able to substantiate outside of the official Russian government sources. If your paralysis is caused by a fear that by doing the above you would be ”pedaling Russian propaganda” then condemns you to be just another one sided source of information, something that WikiMedia identified as major issue today (I totally agree) and that it decided to try to provide a solution to.

          1. So Ros what point of view should one take with respect to Russian military–naval and air– presence in ever so close proximity to western European airspace and territorial waters over at least the last ten years. You want to argue that we started it, or these events haven’t occurred, good luck with that. I understand Vlad’s impulse to channel the great ones–Peter, Catherine, Alexander, and Nicholas. Nobody won, millions lost. This isn’t the Russians, Brits, et al. duking it out on the Punjab. What exactly is the Russian position concerning these military incursions?

            1. Hi Jonathan, I am not sure if your post was supposed to be a reply to mine or to Simon’s…Anyway…As far as the Russian one is concerned, I think that there are a few key elements:

              • A country that was once the centre of the communist bloc, a superpower and main opponent of the US, rich history with episodes where it was often attacked by or with the support of western powers
              • Since the end of the communism, the country has diminished in size, power, influence, but still wants to be a major player and considers that any encroachment on its “sphere of influence” is a danger for the country and its government
              • The position of a major player is denied by the US powers who don’t have any interest in Russia becoming stronger, EXCEPT if the Russian government largely accepts the de-facto primacy of the US views on foreign policy + most of the economic ones too
              • Any attempt by the US to “bring democracy” in the neighborhood is considered to be a move that weakens Russia, as then the US could promote anti-Russian policies, open bases and install their military equipment in close proximity to the Russian borders

              I think that you will be hard-pressed to prove that any of the above statements are clearly wrong. If you try to put yourself in the shoes of Putin and take the above elements into account, I hope that you will see that there is a reason for the way they behave. They feel threatened and this is not some paranoid dream, as their arguments are not crazy. In my eyes all goes back to the good old, can Russia act as an independent country and pursue its own policies, including military / political / economical, or should it “join the club of the western countries”. As far as I know, the latter is not an option that most people in Russia prefer. They envy the west for its money, but not necessarily for a lot of the other aspects of life here. If you pay attention you will see that the eastern members states, part of the EU, have similar issues with the “values” of their western partners. So, there is a clear cultural divide that leads to distrust by the east of the west.

              To the narrow point of how reporting should be done, I think that I expressed my views earlier. I don’t have a problem mentioning the “aggressive incursions” of the Russians, but think that it only makes sense, if you are looking for balance, to discuss the incursions of the western countries too. The US has never been more present in the Black Sea that it has been for the last few years. What is wrong with bringing balance and voicing the views of each side?

              1. Hi Ros,

                I was responding to you. I guess I see the world as virulently competitive at least in a historical context. For me war–hybrid or otherswise–is a fact of life, something we can’t wish away.

                Russia despite its internal problems and paradoxes became a major player on the European stage under Peter and Catherine. They became a major imperial competitor in the decades after Borodino. They succumbed to internal pressure during the revolution and Stalin revitalized them. Again they succumbed in the late eighties. So when I look at these developments in a very broad historical context going back to nomadic expansion across the steppes in pre-Kievan times, I see the Rus, I see the fall of Kiev, I see Mongol domination, I see the Muscovite Tsars clawing their way south and east, I see the Russians defending themselves against Lithuania, the Poles, the Swedes in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. I get Putin.

                But, I don’t have to and won’t participate in a historically localized blame game–waste of time and mental energy. Proving is irrelevant. I witness, I ponder, I report. I don’t have to justify or be an apologist for Putin or the west. Russian military behavior in Nato territory is provocative, new and different in the last decade–it’s news. On the other hand, there is something to be said for some insight into Russia’s history. There’s some balance to be had in a broader historical reckoning and I will give it some thought.

                1. Hi Jonathan, you will probably be surprised but I agree with most of your points. I think that it is easy to mistake me for a Putin apologist; however all I am trying to get to is a more balanced reporting. I hope you would agree that mainstream media don’t do the job, hence why we are on WikiTribune. As I live in the west, most of the news is largely biased in support of the western point of view. This is why I am pushing for more context when reporting about Russia, to bring back some sort of a balance. If I was living in Russia and writing on a Russians dominated website, I would have advocated for the opposite. If a media decides to go beyond reporting the raw facts, then it is very easy to get a biased article. If I am not mistaken, what you advocate is the reporting of the facts – “Proving is irrelevant. I witness, I ponder, I report. “No context. That is one possible approach. However, even this one is quite difficult to follow as unless you personally witness something, it is very difficult to know who to trust on these. Just look at the situation in Syria and the back and forth between the US and Russia on the factual basis of the events there. If you recognize this challenge and that both sides are prompt to distorting the information for their own interests, then the only intellectually honest option is to report what both sides are saying. If not you are choosing sides, which again, is not what journalism is about.

          2. So Ros what point of view should one take with respect to Russian military–naval and air– presence in ever so close proximity to western European airspace and territorial waters over at least the last ten years. You want to argue this is tit for tat, or these events haven’t occurred, good luck with that. I understand Vlad’s impulse to channel the great ones–Peter, Catherine, Alexander, and Nicholas. Nobody won, millions lost. This isn’t the Russians, Brits, et al. duking it out on the Punjab. What exactly is the Russian position concerning these military incursions?

  7. What evidence is there of the use of chemical weapons by Russia?

    1. No direct evidence. I suggest you listen to Boris Johnson’s interview on BBC radio 4 today and Theresa May’s speech yesterday.

    2. We’re referring in this to the use of the novichak nerve agent. You could also refer to the poisoning of Ukrainian president Viktor Yuschenko. Beyond that, of course, is the radioactive poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko.
      We can add more to the story if you have others to suggest.

      1. Do you seriosly belive, russian spies use nerve agent which can easly identify who use this? In this world we have 1000 different venoms, bullets and another weapons. It’s look like cheap provocation against russians. I’m from russia and this histery about russia very dissapointed me and people who live in russia.

        1. Understood entirely but to be clear: it is not what we believe here but I am sure you know that. If there are other voices with credibility you feel we should be including or which you wish to include please let us know or just go in an EDIT or add this way. Thanks.

  8. “Other countries may deploy elements of hybrid warfare”
    Which other countries? It is my understanding that america, for example, takes great pride in it’s ability to destabilize foreign governments. Examples my be Chili, Iraq, Iran, and a long list. All prior to official military invasion.
    Interviews with american and British ‘experts’ and references to the same corporate media that trumpeted WMD even after it was obvious they never existed supports does fall a bit below what I expect.

    1. Hey Del, thanks for your suggestion. Although this story is about Russia’s development and implementation of hybrid strategies of warfare and interference – which military analysts and security experts (no inverted commas required) – you’re right that other nations engage in this kind of activity too. You’re more than welcome to create your own story on the subject.

      1. Hi, George, the diction of the article doesn‘t express that it is [only] about Russia, but, singling Russia out, it is about „the leading exponent“ of hybrid war tactics. Where is the comparative look at hybrid warefare by the relevant countries which could result in a statement like „leading exponent“? The article just argues with “widely recognized”.

        1. Hi Ingrid, you have a point. I tempered the language in the intro to “a leading exponent” and added some detail in the second section to support the notion. For a comparison of how different states and non-state actors employ hybrid strategies, please see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_warfare

        2. Here is the Wikipedia article about hybrid war: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_warfare
          We are not Wikipedia. By that I mean George’s story is a piece of journalism, driven by an event and not an attempt to collate and verify every element of what constitutes this subject. But, we will always link to what does do that.

  9. Also: to be clear: we have done our own interviews and research on this story and are about to add more from specific interviews with experts. However, we have also linked where relevant and hopefully transparently to well informed sources such as the Financial Times and The Economist which have invested serious time looking at this phenomenon and philosophy of hybrid war.
    I will read through and edit where necessary once we add more information from interviews George has done this afternoon.

  10. And Crimea was given as a GIFT to Ukraine by a single person in the 1950s is a propaganda.

  11. I would love you would digging little deeper into the background of the story here.

    It seems you just rephrase what is already “common knowledge” meaning what the corporate media says:
    Russia is the enemy
    Worst in warfare (even worse then the US?)
    Occupying Crimea – because they can

    I’m concerned and dissatified about your tone and bias here. Please address that.

    Thank you.

    1. Hey Jochen, thanks for your comment. Would you like to make any concrete suggestions?

      1. I’m grateful, you asked.
        If the following points I try to make are taken into consideration I would be very happy:
        – First things first: Maybe I suffer from an overload of information on “Russia must be bad” (since very few to none proof is provided – namely in the so-called election meddling)
        – Then I feel as if I learned a fair share of what has been done to Russia:
        – Germany (people like my ancestors) nearly destroyed Russia
        – Western military powers like U.S. and NATO move to Russia’s borders
        – Crimea and Ukraine conflict is not viewed in a context of imperial powers but Russia alone
        – Let me be clear: I do NOT say, others are bad as well or worse, I want to point out the perspective and the context has to be clear and transparent to the reader!

        1. Jochen, you raise some interesting points. So, for example, if you were to create a story about how Russia feels victimized in the post-war era through the USSR and into the current era – with expert sources – that would be great.

          Regarding your first point, you will find a comprehensive US intelligence agencies report on Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.

          1. Is there any article, a summary from Wikimedia, about the US intelligence agencies report on Russian meddling in the 2016 US elections?

            If there is none, it is newsworthy in my opinion to make that summary, so we get informed about it.
            It is also smart to put that summary as a reference (in this article) on what extraordinary tactics Russia employs that makes Russia the most successful user of “hybrid interference”.

            Even more, there should be an article comparing Russia’s hybrid interference tactics to other major players like US and China, comparing the number and intensity of used methods, successfulness, media coverage intensity and results in general.

            I fell that this will resolve if Russian hybrid interference is really that powerful, or their targets live in countries in Europe that have the will to fight back, while countries like USA target people in the Middle East where governments support such hybrid interference by the USA.

    2. If the Russian state doesn’t want to be seen as an enemy, then they’re certainly going about it the wrong way.

      Friends don’t poison each other.

    3. I will take a look but the point we are hoping to make is that Russia is the most effective exponent of this form of warfare. We do also make explicit that Moscow regards things like the US support of democracy in Ukraine — the orange revolution — as a form of hybrid warfare carried out by the United States and Europe.

    4. Also: to be clear: we have done our own interviews and research on this story and are about to add more from specific interviews with experts. However, we have also linked where relevant and hopefully transparently to well informed sources such as the Financial Times and The Economist which have invested serious time looking at this phenomenon and philosophy of hybrid war.
      I will read through and edit where necessary once we add more information from interviews George has done this afternoon.

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