NATO warns of intensifying Russian hybrid warfare

NATO warns of intensifying Russian hybrid warfare

NATO warns of intensifying Russian hybrid operations in Europe, threatening the security of allies.

NATO recently expressed its concern at the intensification of Russian hybrid activities on the territory of allied countries, considering these actions to be a direct threat to security. These activities include a range of operations from sabotage and acts of violence to electronic interference and disinformation campaigns.

Definition and nature of hybrid activities

The concept of hybrid warfare remains difficult to pin down precisely, in the absence of a universally accepted definition. However, it is generally accepted that it involves the use of unconventional techniques aimed at subverting and destabilizing a state, while remaining below the threshold of open armed conflict. These actions are often carried out in an ambiguous manner, enabling the aggressor to deny any direct responsibility.

NATO has cited specific examples of hybrid activity in Europe, including sabotage, cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns affecting countries such as the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and the UK. These incidents have led to investigations and charges being brought against several individuals involved in these hostile operations.

NATO warns of intensifying Russian hybrid warfare

Advantages and disadvantages of hybrid activities

Advantages for the aggressor:

  1. Anonymity and deniability: Hybrid operations enable the aggressor to carry out destabilizing actions while minimizing the risk of direct political or military repercussions.
  2. Cost-effectiveness: Compared with conventional military operations, hybrid activities are less costly and can be carried out with greater discretion.
  3. Psychological impact: They generate uncertainty and mistrust in the target society, undermining public confidence in institutions.

Disadvantages for the target company:

  1. Insecurity and instability: Hybrid activities create a climate of fear and insecurity, affecting political and social stability.
  2. Increased defense costs: Target nations are forced to increase their security spending to counter hybrid threats, which can weigh heavily on national budgets.
  3. Social division: Disinformation campaigns often aim to exacerbate societal divisions, weakening internal cohesion.

Consequences of hybrid activities

Hybrid activities, by their insidious nature and their ability to interfere in various aspects of society, have far-reaching and sometimes irreversible consequences. Disinformation, for example, can alter public perception of the facts, influencing elections and other crucial political decisions. Cyber attacks against critical infrastructures can cause considerable economic damage and endanger lives.

In response to these threats, NATO and its allies have stepped up intelligence and defense cooperation. A June 2022 report by the Russia & Eurasia Studies Centre and the Henry Jackson Society recommended the creation of an agency dedicated to defending against information warfare and strengthening oversight of media ownership, highlighting the need for a coordinated and robust approach to defending liberal democracies against these subversive tactics.

Hybrid activities, while less visible than armed conflict, represent a serious and growing threat to the security of European nations. The response requires constant vigilance, increased international cooperation, and significant investment in national security and societal resilience.

War Wings Daily is an independant magazine.