Rethinking Russian Hybrid Warfare

While Moscow's use of hybrid tactics has been successful, hard security still rules the day

14 March 2023

Matej Kandrík

Marcin Król Fellow

We have overhyped the effectiveness of Russian hybrid warfare, but there are many lessons we can learn from where they have succeeded in preparing an environment for more direct control by the Kremlin.

Russian hybrid warfare has been prominent in security policy-related debates in recent years. The concept emerged in the military analysts’ community and spread quickly into media, public debate, and decision-makers’ vocabulary.

Crimean Origin

While the initial academic conceptualisation of hybrid warfare can be traced back to the first Chechen war or the 2006 Lebanese war, these were very different from so-called Russian hybrid warfare. The main trigger was the actions of Russia against Ukraine in 2014, especially the spectacular act of annexation of Crimea and the subsequent armed conflict in Donbas.

Especially the Crimea case caused significant surprise, even shock, and indeed, confusion in the eyes of Western observers. To explain the rapid, smooth and successful Russian actions leading to the Crimea takeover, there was a need to come up with an explanation outside the ordinary. Russian hybrid warfare was born.


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Matej Kandrík

Marcin Król Fellow

Matej Kandrík is a Marcin Król Fellow 2022/2023 and a cofounder of Adapt Institute and a PhD candidate in Political Science with a specialisation in Security and Strategic Studies at Masaryk University in Brno, Czechia. In 2016 he did a research stay at the National Defence University of Poland. He collaborated as a research fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the International Republican Institute as a Transatlantic Initiative fellow. Currently, he is participating in CEU Democratic Institute Leadership Academy. His research interests include comprehensive defence, paramilitarism in Central Eastern Europe and strategic communication.


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