Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Russia’s Hybrid War

Maxim Trudolyubov, NYT
FEB. 24, 2016

Almost anything Vladimir Putin touches these days is perceived by the West as a weapon, and almost everything he does is seen as an attack, very often a successful one. The Kremlin can change facts on the ground, stage quasi cease-fires and create zones of influence to exert pressure on other nations. It has done so in Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine, and the pattern is now being repeated in Syria.

Meanwhile, the West goes on declaring one Kremlin success after another in ways that many Russians themselves cannot see. Under an editorial headline “Putin’s Syria Victory,” for example, The Wall Street Journal opined on Feb. 12: Negotiations can “‘freeze’ the conflict in place, a tactic Russia used to its advantage after the invasion of Georgia in 2008 and last year’s Minsk agreement over eastern Ukraine.”

It is not by crude force alone that Russia twists events to its advantage. By using its total control over the Russian news media to sow confusion in the West, Mr. Putin has managed, in the words of the journalists Peter Pomerantsev and Michael Weiss, to “weaponize” information. In a report published in late 2014 by the New York-based Institute of Modern Russia, they outlined how the Kremlin manipulates the media, ethnic tensions and trade and financial transactions abroad to further its own ends.

(More here.)

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