June 1, 2016 | Monograph

Russian Hybrid Warfare: How to Confront a New Challenge to the West

FDD Press

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Executive Summary

In 2013, General Valery Gerasimov, chief of Russia’s Armed Forces, publicly unveiled a fresh idea. In what came to be called the Gerasimov Doctrine,1 he described “new-generation” warfare – pre-emptive operations employing a mixture of nonmilitary and military measures to achieve political goals, deploying all elements of society.

Gerasimov suggested that such mobilization was urgent because Russia was already behind its enemies – implicitly the West, which was wielding a strategy that it called “hybrid warfare.” Technically, he was right – the United States does enjoy considerable global reach in cyber espionage, for example. But Gerasimov found hybrid warfare where there was none, such as the West’s insistence on a no-fly zone in Libya and in Syrian humanitarian missions, operations that Gerasimov called camouflaged strategies of aiding one side (the rebels) for political gain. Russia, Gerasimov said, needed not only to catch up, but to get out well in front.

The Russian general’s appraisal of Moscow’s combat readiness in the new age was disingenuous: Russia began to build up cyberspace expertise in the 1990s, when its Soviet-era military capability had wilted, and it embarked on a determined hunt for an arena to confront the West.

This paper examines the threat posed by Russia’s new generation warfare to the interests and security of the U.S. and its allies – in the military arena, and in technology, economics, and culture. It is the first in a three-part series on the dynamics and specific contours of the intensifying financial, hybrid, and geopolitical conflict between the West and Russia.


Cyber Cyber-Enabled Economic Warfare Russia Syria