Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

The danger of “hybrid warfare” from a sophisticated adversary: the Russian “hybridity” in the Ukrainian conflict


Pages 1-16 | Published online: 15 Oct 2017

The term “hybrid warfare” is a new one that the West began to use to explain its failure to cope with asymmetric threats. Focusing on the war on global terrorism, the West temporarily withdrew its attention from traditional adversaries, such as Russia, which has used this gap and has audaciously returned to the stage as a global actor. Until the Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and inflaming the Ukrainian crisis, most Western authors attributed “hybrid threats” mostly to non-state actors. But the Ukrainian scenario showed the true face of “hybridity” in the modern battlefield when practised by a powerful state actor. Russian “hybrid warfare” in Ukraine has already been seen as a combination of conventional and unconventional methods, that have been complemented with other instruments of national power – diplomatic, economic and information. The purpose of this article is, through an analysis of the Ukrainian scenario, to demonstrate that although the term “hybrid” is new, the concept itself is old and is a continuation of already seen doctrine from the Cold War era. Although “hybrid threats” can come both from state and non-state actors, the Russian interference in Ukraine is proof that they are especially dangerous for the West if, or when, they are initiated from a traditional, sophisticated adversary that has the capacity to use all forms of warfare.

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