Showing posts with label Conflict. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Conflict. Show all posts

Russian Strategic Culture And A Resurgence Of The West's Conflict.


As many observers have pointed out (Ermath 2006), Russian strategic, or security, culture has been based for centuries on Russia/self-perception USSR's as a great power and the belief that military force is necessary for achieving and preserving that position. 

This self-image has a significant impact on how Russians understand circumstances in which they find themselves, as well as how they define their own interests. 

Furthermore, the self-image2 describes the methods for achieving or maintaining projected Great Power status. 

Strategic culture, as defined by Jack Snyder (1977, 8) nearly half a century ago, is the sum of ideas, conditioned emotional responses, and patterns of habitual behavior that members of a national strategic community have acquired through instruction or imitation and share with one another regarding nuclear strategy and foreign policy in general. 

Vladimir Putin's single clearest message since assuming power two decades ago has been about Russia's continued greatness and his commitment to ensuring that it is once again viewed as the dominant power in post-Soviet space, including Eurasia, and an equal to other Great Powers in determining global affairs. 

At the Munich Security Conference in 2007, he launched a broad assault on the United States and the West, marking a rhetorical watershed in Russian foreign policy. 

Putin said publicly that Russia was once again a key international player, and that it would no longer follow the West's example in achieving its security and foreign policy objectives. 

He also said that Russians saw themselves as a pole in the world order, independent from and in opposition to the West. 

This was a significant departure from the official Russian security culture's vision of Russia as a member of the Western-oriented community a decade earlier, however changes started to emerge even before Putin took office. 

In reaction to Western accusations that it was corrupting or abandoning democracy, Moscow started to assert itself rhetorically about this time (Putin 2007). 

Threats to Russian security were now seen as predominantly foreign, rather than internal, as they had been a decade before. 

The charges and counter-charges between Russia and the West that have become commonplace since the shift in Russian policy have contributed to increased military budgets and exercises, the denigration of previous nuclear arms agreements that require renegotiation or were scheduled to be cancelled (during the Trump presidency) (Weir 2020), the resurgence of Russia's activities throughout the Global South, and direct intervention in the internal affairs of Western countries by Russia. 

These developments begin to resemble some of the most contentious operations between the Soviet Union and the West during the Cold War. 

As a result, a new cold war between Russia and the West may be loosely described. 

Indeed, during the 2016 Munich Security Conference, then-Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev likened the current condition of ties to those in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, claiming that "we are fast sliding towards a new cold war" (Medvedev 2016). 

The central question of this chapter is why relations between Russia and the West have deteriorated from the euphoria of the early 1990s, when President George H.W. Bush (1991) spoke of a "new world order" and others predicted the "end of history" (Fukuyama 1992) and Russia's incorporation into the Western-dominated world order, to the current confrontation. 

It is the product of two intertwined events, one external to Russia and the other domestic. 

The external factor stems from the West's commitment to expand the liberal international order eastward by incorporating large swaths of the former Soviet empire into the existing system through the exportation of liberal economic and political values, as well as NATO and the European Union expansion. 

On the Russian side, this has been paralleled by slow, but eventually substantial, shifts in Russian strategic culture in a far more assertive and aggressive direction, based on a vow to re-establish Russia as a "Great Power." 

These developments, in turn, are partially in reaction to what the Russians see as rising and illegitimate threats to their security interests as a consequence of that same Western expansion, and partly in response to internal threats to President Putin and his allies' political system.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

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Hybrid Warfare & Conflict - Engineering Geo-Political Power, And Spheres Of Influence.


    The lack of centralized decision-making in Europe has been shown in a harsh light. 

    Putin, like Machiavelli, may believe that it is preferable to be feared than than liked. Putin can undoubtedly brag about his rise in power. 

    • He has put Americans and Europeans on the defensive, sparked a flurry of high-level talks, and even gotten a written response to his ideas from the US and NATO (proposals which he must have known to be totally unrealistic if not impossible). 
    • Nobody doubts, if anybody ever did, that Russia is still a major force. That much has been shown by its current set of actions in Ukraine. 
    • Respect for Russia, which seems to be a strategic goal in and of itself, is another matter. It's simple to instill fear, but respect must be earned. 

    Differences in ideas between EU Member States create a hole in the absence of EU integration in diplomacy and defense, rather than forging a nuanced but forceful unified perspective. 

    • However, a history of internecine fighting should have taught Europeans one thing: exaggerating the significance of status does not alter the circumstances on the ground. As a result, there's no reason to bemoan his triumph. 

    The United States must fill that power vaccum, with which everyone rallies in the face of Russian sabre-rattling. 

    We have to be concerned about the demise of the European security architecture as we know it.


    One may threaten Ukraine with a hundred thousand soldiers, but one cannot conquer a Unified Europe. 

    On a GDP the size of Belgium and the Netherlands combined ($1.483 trillion against $1.434 trillion in 2020), one does not begin a great power war against the EU and the US. 

    • Putin may be able to put the future of Europe's security architecture on the table, but he does not have the authority to reverse it. 
    • That can only be done by European leaders who are foolish enough to pull their own nation out of the EU or cynical enough to destroy democracy and the rule of law. 
    • They endanger Europe by fracturing the Union and playing straight into the hands of other forces (sometimes even voluntarily). 

    Natural resource dependency has both positive and negative consequences. 

    Both Moscow and Brussels may threaten each other with economic penalties as a deterrent. 

    • However, sanctions can only be employed once, after which nothing will happen save that both parties would suffer economic consequences, since neither party is likely to submit to penalties and modify its policy. 
    • Economic penalties may signify displeasure and serve as punishment if that is the goal, but they will not alter the reality on the ground, just as a gain of face will not change the circumstances on the ground. 

    Russia will have to negotiate if it wants to create an acceptable and sustainable change to the security arrangements on the European continent. 

    • Negotiations take longer than Russian forces can stay focused on their current action in Ukraine without losing their advantage. 
    • Further unilateral escalation by Putin's Russia will result in a prolonged destabilization of global security and peace that must be dealt with to avert a potential Humanitarian disaster.
    • And, in order to have a chance of meaningful progress, both parties must be ready to make compromises, failing which a military resolution will result in a test of Russia's present invasive  posturing and actions in Europe.

    If Putin was sincere and capable of honoring his public statements, Europeans and Americans would have had to negotiate, as they have said they are prepared to. 

    Because restoring the weapons control and confidence-building framework that has lapsed in recent years would be very beneficial overall to Europe's security. 

    Given Ukraine borders with EU/NATO member states, Any negotiations on the European Security Architecture must, without a doubt, involve all Europeans. 

    Present Russian military mobilization, offenses,  and actions against Ukraine, its invasive occupation, and entry into eastern regions is thus tantamount to an act of war against Europe.

    Only the supranational EU can be Europe's political center of gravity. 

    • Back in 2014, the EU made the strategic choice to give Ukraine a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA), to which Russia retaliated by invading the country. 
    • All of the rest, such as NATO deterrence, Normandy negotiations, and EU sanctions, stemmed from the initial decision taken by Europeans via the EU. 
    • Rather than introducing multiple forms, the EU must insist on a core trilateral arrangement if any peace is plausible, with the US and Russia, as a prerequisite for substantive discussions to begin. 
    • Refusing to do so would be siding with Putin, who has made a habit of minimizing the EU in order to undermine European unity. 

    However, it is improbable that sufficient mutual confidence can be developed to reach an agreement on the wider concerns given the unilateral violation of Ukraine's territorial integrity and its political borders. 

    Russia continues to engage in near-constant hybrid measures against Europe and the United States. 



    Can Putin back out now that the least of the risk events has occurred, and the stakes have been increased dangerously high, with no sustainable success in Ukraine to enhance his power other than a minor pro-Russian separatist victory? 

    All of  Ukraine, in its entirety, in its resilience, in truth, is a continuing defeat for Putin. 

    • He drove a divided nation into Western orbit by invading in 2014. 
    • He conquered Crimea but failed to achieve Russia's second goal of forming a sphere of influence throughout the former Soviet Union, despite its great power status (minus the Baltic states). 
    • He will not be able to reclaim Ukraine without launching a full-scale assault. 
    • But it seems to be the least probable scenario: the Ukrainian armed forces will fight with a Western backbone this time, and Putin will not want to lose some of his finest men in a stalemate. 

    It is thus very important for the EU and the US to ensure that Ukraine has the necessary weapons, equipment, and ammunition to fight. 

    • Furthermore, assuming that Russia does not want to blow Ukraine to the ground, it cannot wield its military superiority indefinitely. 
    • An invasion would, in any case, result in military occupation, similar to the annexation of the Baltic nations in 1940. The desire to sovereignty reasserts itself when the occupation is gone, as history has shown. 

    As a result, Russia's insistence that Ukraine not join NATO is damage control. 

    • It also falls within a centuries-old policy of capturing land or establishing buffer zones along Russia's western frontiers to reduce the country's susceptibility to invasion in the absence of natural barriers. 
    • If imposing neutrality on Ukraine is all it takes for Putin to finally acknowledge that it will not be part of any Russian sphere of influence, the West perhaps could have afforded to make the compromise prior to Russia's military actions. 
    • The decision by NATO in 2008 to allow Ukraine and Georgia to join but without a deadline was a poor compromise between an aggressive Bush administration and hesitant Europeans, and the latter are still largely opposed. 

    Neutrality may be seen as another face-saving move by Putin, but such 19th-century sensibilities should not guide European policymakers today. 

    Furthermore, NATO expansion is not a goal in and of itself: new members should be welcomed only when our security requires it; nations that would bring more expenses than advantages and for which we are unwilling to go to war in any case should not be requested. 

    Neutrality cannot be a unilateral compromise. Such an unrealistic expectation is a trigger and provocation for a larger widespread conflict that will be without bounds.

    • Other than dispersing its forces, Russia has failed to make a genuine surrender, since they may be concentrated again on a whim. 
    • Moscow has failed to stop supporting armed separatists in the Donbass and allow Ukraine's government in Kiev to reclaim control of the country's whole continental territory. 
    • That is true, but it says nothing about the Crimea along with the Donbass, which is the price Ukraine is having to pay. 

    That would not be fair, because, in the words of Bismarck, 

    "we are not operating a judiciary, we are establishing policy." 

    Putin, on the other hand, may be unwilling to make this compromise. 

    Furthermore, if he is unable to reclaim Ukraine, he may decide that he does not want it to function. 

    He will not want to see a well-functioning democratic Ukraine begin to exert any kind of appeal on his own populace, therefore this is a serious danger. 

    (And neutrality would have no bearing on the DCFTA.) 

    Russia may thus conclude that, despite its limited resources, it can get more out of a stable but (in its eyes) unsatisfactory deal by triggering another escalation when it sees fit, rather than a stable but (in its eyes) unsatisfactory deal, even if instability comes at the cost of additional sanctions. 

    Sanctions along with Hybrid War Operations must be activated and  implemented, notwithstanding the fact that sanctions are unlikely to compel Russia to recede beyond its dictates and  unpredictable volatile leadership. 

    • Putin may yet choose to restrict to a military effort, such as seizing the land bridge between Donbass and Crimea. 
    • Russia would suffer fatalities, but it would establish a permanent Russian military presence in the Donbass as a fait accompli. 
    • Another possibility is a repeat of the cyber-attack on 14 January. Both of these situations might result in extra severe retaliations. 
    • The standoff would persist in all three scenarios, and perpetual instability would rule, leaving little hope for effective discussions on the larger security architecture. 

    The Desperate and Blind Pursuit Of Obsolete Spheres Of Influence In an Increasingly Connected Globe. 


    •  In mid-January 2022, when the West was focused on Ukraine, In Kazakhstan, Russia interfered immediately and effectively. 
    • Some 2000 Russian forces, operating under the auspices of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) and at the request of President Tokayev, assisted him in maintaining his grasp on power. 
    • In November 2020, Russia dispatched 2000 soldiers as peacekeepers at the request of another CSTO member, Armenia, after brokering a cease-fire between its ally and Azerbaijan, ending another conflict over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. 
    • In November 2021, Russian involvement was required once again to stop fighting that had broken the cease-fire. 
    • Georgia's predicament, on the other hand, is very comparable to that of Ukraine. 
    • Russia secured the separatist areas of South Ossetia and Abkhazia during the 2008 Russo-Georgian conflict, eventually recognizing them as republics. 
    • Approximately 10,000 Russian soldiers are now stationed there.  However, short of a full-scale invasion, the most Russia can hope for is a prolonged stalemate and the capacity to increase tensions anytime it wants. 

    The conclusion is that Russia continues to operate as a security guarantee in former Soviet countries when the government and military forces, with or against the populace, embrace a largely Russian orientation. 

    Belarus, for example, falls within this category. 

    However, once a nation has shifted its orientation to the West, Russia may make things difficult for it, such as stopping it from joining the EU or NATO (though membership is not on the table anyway), but it cannot force it back into the fold. 

    Meanwhile, China is competing with Russia, and in many cases has already surpassed it, as a trade and investment partner in practically all former Soviet countries. 

    In 2013, Kazakhstan hosted the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative. 

    There has formed a de facto division of labor that fits Beijing well, but one would wonder whether it really satisfies Moscow: when Russia acts as a security guarantor, it maintains the stability that enables it to no longer transform its military might into commensurate political and economic dominance. 

    As a result, an exclusive Russian sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union is a pipe dream in reality. 

    Russia doesn't have an option but to share power with China in a more or less Master-Junior Partner Bond. 

    Outside of the former Soviet Union, Russia has established a military presence, either directly or via the Wagner Group's mercenaries, in the Central African Republic, Libya, and now Mali. 

    The key success here, too, is continuing instability, which serves our goals. 

    For Russia, the eastern and southern edge of Europe is one theater in where it may exercise its nuisance power at a cheap cost. 

    Even in a nation like Mali, which is so reliant on European economic and military aid, Brussels should be considerably more concerned about its incapacity to prevent it from doing so. 

    But, although Russia may strive to entrench itself, it lacks a genuine alternative project to offer these nations, other than ensuring the regime's or claimant's security, which it opportunistically supports. 

    As internal politics change, such ties are prone to unravel. 

    The exception is Syria, where Russian assistance insured the survival of a long-time partner, but that relationship, too, is unlikely to outlast regime transition if it ever occurs. 

    Russia is also expected to fall farther behind the United States, China, and the European Union in terms of political clout and economic success. 

    It will continue to be quite simple to use its annoyance capability. 

    For the time being, Russia's military might has allowed it to punch above its political and economic weight. 

    However, keeping its limited friends, much alone acquiring new ones, will grow more difficult as other nations make more appealing political and economic proposals. 

    Will this encourage Moscow to consider a more cooperative grand strategy rather than a hostile one? Or will it continue to associate tremendous power with arrogance and aggression? 

    For its part, the EU must remain laser-focused on its most important goals: defending its own way of life while preventing instability from spilling over from either its eastern or southern flanks. 

    Stable neighboring nations that make their own sovereign decisions are a useful tool in achieving that critical goal. 

    The EU's use of nuisance power can never be an aim in itself; although it must consider how to respond against Russian neighbors, good neighborly relations must remain the ultimate goal. 

    Whatever course Putin and his successor choose, the EU must be open to conversation at all times, following the motto: cooperate when possible, but push back when necessary. 

    However, this will need the development of a much stronger European reflex in all EU member states. 

    If Europe's strategic center is a vacuum, neither collaboration nor pushback will occur, and the EU will be constantly unsettled by the next bold action from another state.

    ~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

    You may also want to read and learn more about Global Geo Politics, Conflicts, And Conflict Resolution here.

    Sources & References:

    • Arild, S., NATIONAL RESILIENCE AS A TOOL TO COUNTER HYBRID THREATS Sunde Arild. У збірнику представлено матеріали ІІ Міжнародної науково-практичної конференції «Управління та адміністрування в умовах протидії гібридним загрозам національній безпеці». Матеріали подано у авторській редакції. Редакційна колегія може не поділяти думок авторів. За достовірність даних та унікальність поданого до друку матеріалу, p.217.
    • Coldea, F., 2022. Intelligence challenges in countering hybrid threats. National security and the future23(1), pp.49-66.
    • Панфілов, О. and Савченко, О., 2022. THE SOCIOLOGICAL ASPECT IN THE CONTENT OF THE MODERN HYBRID WARFARE. " Вісник НЮУ імені Ярослава Мудрого". Серія: Філософія, філософія права, політологія, соціологія1(52).
    • Solmaz, T., 2022. ‘Hybrid warfare’: A dramatic example of conceptual stretching. National security and the future23(1), pp.89-102.
    • Bhattacharya, I., 2022. Hybrid Warfare Teasing Security Concerns in Asia. In The Palgrave Handbook of Global Social Problems (pp. 1-15). Cham: Springer International Publishing.
    • Davies, L., 2022. A “hybrid offensive” in the Balkans? Russia and the EU-led Kosovo-Serb negotiations. European Security31(1), pp.1-20.
    • Hook, K. and Marcantonio, R., 2022. Environmental dimensions of conflict and paralyzed responses: the ongoing case of Ukraine and future implications for urban warfare. Small Wars & Insurgencies, pp.1-29.

    • Kurban, O. and Stadnichenko, O., 2022. Hybrid Conflicts in Modern Geopolitics: Based on Russian-Ukrainian Relations From 1991-2021. In Handbook of Research on Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Conflicts and Their Impact on State and Social Security (pp. 70-89). IGI Global.

    • Eberle, J. and Daniel, J., 2022. Anxiety geopolitics: Hybrid warfare, civilisational geopolitics, and the Janus-faced politics of anxiety. Political Geography92, p.102502.
    • Muradov, I., 2022. The Russian hybrid warfare: the cases of Ukraine and Georgia. Defence Studies, pp.1-24.
    • Magnuson, S., Keay, M. and Metcalf, K., 2022. Countering Hybrid Warfare: Mapping Social Contracts to Reinforce Societal Resiliency in Estonia and Beyond (Spring 2022). Texas National Security Review.
    • Gaiser, L., 2022. Chinese hybrid warfare approach and the logic of strategy. National security and the future23(1), pp.67-77.
    • Andersson, M., 2022. Russia's use of Hybrid Warfare against the European Union 2014-2020: A qualitative content analysis.
    • Kennedy, D., 2022. The Gun, the Ship, and the Pen: Warfare, Constitutions, and the Making of the Modern World by Linda Colley. Journal of Interdisciplinary History52(3), pp.430-431.

    Blessed are the Peacemakers

            This a comment in response to an interesting article pertaining to a very important subject seen on . You'll find the original post here.

    "It's Not About Religion: A Conversation With Author and Middle East Expert Gregory Harms

    Image Ref. "

     “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." 
    ~ Matthew 5:9 

                 I understand why there is always a perennial chain of thought speculating and theorizing around the facts that visit this subject with time. One can only sincerely appeal to others that they never fail to consider and examine all of the many key multi-billion dollar industries that have vested interests and more subtle agendas. These are well and truly here to stay and are linked from both here in the West to much of the middle east. Off course, there are always serious concerns that need to be addressed with a multi faceted and multi-lateral approach, aside from this both Geo-politics and strategic military advances are merely manipulated fronts and manufactured cases that take care of several interests and self serving benefits. 

    Always try to think critically while getting to the roots of why, when and how these destabilizing and volatile social upheavals and turbulence have come about. There is always an intrusive nose searching for opportunities to dominate and enter through the crack and commence with a clearly defined and demarcated cycle of exploitation. 

    The big questions: Why Not? Who is to Stop? ~ We are not men we are advanced primates, slaves of our own habits... with a really long... long way to go before we become fully Human. I greatly admire some of the voices coming from the Left here in America, the only problem is they seem to be a little ahead of their time and out of place in world that promotes hate, manipulation and war. We can only prepare with prayers for peace and hope. It is sad indeed how some war mongering monsters can't even do that.

    Thoughts & Prayers For Peace, Love and our higher needs as Humanity.


    Jai Krishna Ponnappan.