Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts

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.

    Unchain the European Union

           I usually refrain from commenting or expressing my views about this. But as a personal principle I strongly oppose all forms of binding and depleting dependencies/ instruments of enslavement... The EU has had too much of this senseless incompetence. So here we go, this is in response to a post on Debating Europe ( via their Social Media Page )

    The Original Post,

    " State of the Union: President Barroso comes out in strong support of ECB President Mario Draghi’s move towards ‘unlimited’ bond buying and gets the biggest applause of the morning. What do YOU think?


    ~ The entire address is available in the video link at the bottom of their page.

    The avoidable skepticism and crisis within the EU is owed primarily to the incompetence of some of its leaders and their inability to refrain from facilitating draining and parasitic economics.

     "They may say they are acting within the ECB's mandate but are they really acting to ensure the stability of the Euro? They are undermining and clearly exposing the capacity of member nations and their leaders to resolve the crisis at the earliest by doing what ever is necessary to initiate urgent reforms. This move is nothing but yet another incautious, conditional and risky leap of faith. It is really disappointing how they have exposed their inability to work with governments to ensure and guide an all crucial reform agenda.

    P.S ~ Their cause for applause comes with strings attached. They are poised to enter into a vicious and self perpetuating addiction to the central bank while complacently stagnating their economies."


    Jai Krishna Ponnappan

    P.S ~ I wish I had the time to debate this but yes this is just the beginning of what I really hope digging down to the root of this crisis should look like..... at least in the coming future.