Explained: What is hybrid warfare between Russia & West

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The current struggle between Russia and the West is often been categorised as a hybrid warfare. What is meant by this new term in international relations? Is it a new form of Cold War which marked almost the entire second half of the 20th century international politics?

A war of propaganda and provocation:

Hybrid warfare is a peculiar situation where war and peace can not really be distinguished from each other. A lot of activities are currently taking place in various parts of Europe that are connected to the Russia versus The Rest struggle.

Explained: What is hybrid warfare

Under the pattern of hybrid warfare, both sides accuse each other of targetting the other through propaganda. While Nato and the West allege that Russia's military presence has increased in the air and sea and it is entering deep into the Nato territory, the Kremlin accuse the West of carrying out a propaganda campaign to paint Russia as the enemy.

Dmitry Linnik, London bureau chief of the Voice of Russia radio station said recently that it is true that Russia is not without a blemish but the West's propaganda campaign is geared towards isolating Moscow and paint it as an enemy, a BBC report said.

Some definitions of hybrid warfare:

US Marine Corps (USMC) Col. Bill Nemeth's said it is a "contemporary form of guerrilla warfare" that "employs both modern technology and modern mobilisation methods."

Nathan Freier of the Csaid hybrid warfae involved four threats: traditional, irregular, catastrophic terrorism and disruptive, which exploit technology to deal with superior military capacity.

Retired US Army Col. Jack McCuen said hybrid warfare is the focus of asymmetric warfare, fought within the conflict zone population, home front population and international community.

David Kilcullen who authored the book The Accidental Guerrilla, said hybrid warfare explains modern conflicts that include a combination of irregular warfare, civil war, insurgency and terrorism.

USMC Lieutenant General James N Mattis and US Marine Corps Reserve Lieutenant Colonel Frank G. Hoffman, (Ret.) called hybrid warfare an extension of the Three Block War to a Four Block War.

Examples of hybrid warfare:

  • The war conducted by the Hezbollah in the Lebanon War of 2006. The outfit fought the Israeli military either from hidden positions or by conventional combat in the rural areas. The effect was telling on the Israeli forces which, despite its highly developed military, failed to take control of a single village along the Israel-Lebanon border. The Hezoballh even hacked the Israeli communication to learn about the enemy's movement.
  • The current power struggle between Russia and the West in the Baltic region is another case in hand. Allegations of a Russian submarine lurking in Swedish waters; Nato fighter jets scrambling to stop Russian bombers; Russian spies fanning out across Europe, as per Czech intelligence sources; Estonian official's alleged indulgence in spying against Russia; Lithuania's preparedness with a rapid reaction force in case Moscow tries to do with it what it has done to Ukraine --- all make up the story of hybrid warfae in eastern and Baltic Europe.

Hybrid warfare is an old concept:

Archives, however say that hybrid warfare is not something that the current leadership in the Kremlin has started. It was something which was prevalent in Russia in the 1920s and 30s and that Vladimir Putin is doing what Joseph Stalin had done almost a century ago. It is only that Stalin had called the warfare "active reconnaisance" and it was practised in countries like China and Korea.

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