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War isn't what it used to be. Perhaps nowhere is this clearer than in Russia's ongoing struggle with the West for influence, which now seems to take place in the shadows as often as it does in plain view. With the dawn of the digital age, conflicts between great powers have spread from battlespace to cyberspace, something the Kremlin has embraced with open arms by honing its capabilities in hybrid warfare.
The term "hybrid warfare" may be in vogue these days, but it has been in practice for centuries. The Napoleonic Wars, revolutions across the Americas and the Cold War all featured it in one way or another by combining conventional and unconventional tactics. But the recent evolution of technology and mass media has reinvented the concept, changing its very nature with the introduction of elements like trolls, bots and hacktivists. Though there is some debate about the term's definition, hybrid warfare — at least for the purposes of this analysis — now can include the deployment of any number of tools in the cyber realm, in addition to traditional troops, paramilitary groups, punitive economic measures, political manipulation and the spread of propaganda and disinformation. And as the costs of conventional conflict have risen, so, too, has hybrid warfare's prominence as a tool in international relations.
Forefront - Movement - Russia - Collapse - Soviet
At the forefront of this movement is Russia. Since recovering from the collapse of the Soviet Union and re-emerging as a regional power in the mid-2000s, Russia has made ample use of hybrid warfare as a central component of its national security strategy, particularly in its dealings with the West. Because it no longer boasts the overwhelming conventional force needed to stare down the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and reclaim the lands it lost in the crumbling of the Soviet bloc, Russia has had to...
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