Russian Political War: Moving Beyond The Hybrid

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Mark Galeotti argued that there is not ‘a’ Russian hybrid war approach so much as two, one rooted in military thinking and the other in the civilian national security establishment.

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Russia seems determined to challenge and antagonise the West, through a campaign fought as much with dank memes and dark money as espionage and traditional statecraft. This is generally characterised as ‘hybrid war,’ but this is a misunderstanding of Russian strategy. Mark Galeotti’s new book Russian Political War: moving beyond the hybrid (Routledge) draws extensively not just on Russian statements and writings but also decades of interactions with Russian military, security and government officials, to demonstrates that the best model for the current campaign is ‘political war’, as originally formulated by the veteran US diplomatic strategist George Kennan.

As he discussed his basic thesis is that there is not ‘a’ Russian hybrid war approach so much as two, one rooted in military thinking and the other in the civilian national security establishment. The latter sees non-kinetic means not as a preparation for military adventure but a substitute, and this is the perspective dominant in the Kremlin. In the process, Russia may be foreshadowing how the very nature of war is changing: political war may be the future.

Professor Mark Galeotti is a RUSI Senior Associate Fellow and senior non-resident fellow with the Institute of International Relations Prague, based in London, and a 2018-19 Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute’s Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies.

A specialist in Russian security and political affairs, as well as the murky subjects of intelligence, and transnational and organised crime, his most recent book is The Vory: Russia’s super mafia (Yale University Press, 2018), and whose books Russian Political War: moving beyond the hybrid (Routledge) and We Need To Talk About Putin (Ebury) will be published in February 2019.

He read history at Robinson College, Cambridge and then took his doctorate at the London School of Economics. Since then, he has been Head of History at Keele University, attached to the Research Analysts department at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Professor of Global Affairs at New York University and a visiting professor at Charles University (Prague), Rutgers-Newark (Newark) and MGIMO (Moscow).

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