Hybrid warfare is actually nothing new, despite the fact that observers were initially surprised at the coordinated and disciplined political-military approach that encompassed Russia's forays in Crimea in 2014. The year before, General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the Russian General Staff, noted in an article that, “Methods used in struggle are increasingly changing in favor of political, economic, information, humanitarian and other non-military means, including the use of the protest potential of the population.” Russia's “hybrid” warfare is thus a mixture of unconventional acts (initially) short of war, secret operations backed by military force, and a major information warfare campaign, that also includes a cyber-warfare aspect. This approach will only work well in specific areas of the near abroad where ethnic Russians, or possible proxies, live. It also worked best in specific Ukrainian conditions (a new, paralyzed and confused government without a clear mandate) that will likely not be reproduced elsewhere. The Baltic States and the EU are quite aware of the danger as is NATO, which is constantly exercising in the Baltics. A key issue is how would NATO recognize an ambiguous “hybrid” attack that would require an Article V response? Russia continues to wage a massive propaganda and information warfare campaign with the ultimate goal of undermining NATO and the EU by creating a pro-Russian narrative and even political change. This the part of hybrid warfare that will not easily disappear: it has been part of Russian thinking for over 40 years.
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