I am deeply convinced that in order for us to win the war that Russia has launched against Ukraine and the world, all of us — the government and every Ukrainian — must absolutely know and fully understand the phenomenon, its scale, and the level of threat it represents for Ukraine today
We must know our enemy.
We must know ourselves
And we must know the space in which this confrontation is taking place.
Ukraine is at war, and the undeclared war that Russia is waging against us is defined as “hybrid,” “non-linear” or “war of controlled chaos.” This type of war combines military, informational, terrorist, and other aggressive actions that are coordinated from one center and directed at achieving a certain strategic goal. The goal of this war is Ukraine’s complete subjugation to the expansionist, neo-imperialistic plans of the Kremlin.
The content, nature and characteristics of such a war differ significantly from the traditional models of previous wars. Experts refer to it as a so-called war of controlled chaos.
In the geopolitical system of coordinates, the essence of the war of controlled chaos lies in the geopolitical destruction of the victim state and the neutralization of its geopolitical characteristics — size of territory, population, international status, economic opportunities, military power, and total potential. During such a war the victim state and its regions experience certain internal political processes that are, in fact, strategic actions of controlled chaos. The true roles, locations, interests, and goals of the aggressor state are removed from the sphere of public attention and are hidden behind “informational garbage” and demagoguery.
In general, the controlled war of chaos or hybrid war involves three stages:
- Aggravation of the situation and encouragement of internal conflict in the victim state.
- Degradation, destruction, and disintegration of the country, turning it into a so-called “failed” state.
- Changing the country’s political power to one that is completely under control of the aggressor state.
Ukraine is encountering this phenomenon directly for the first time. However, military experts have long been familiar with this type of warlike activity.
The concept in its modern sense was explored as early as during the 1960-70 years in the work on “war insurgency” by Evgeny Messner, the former colonel of the General Staff of the Imperial Russian Army. (in his book Insurgency or the name of the Third World War, Messner predicted that future wars would be won through subversion and organized revolutions carried out by special forces and terrorists — Ed.)
In particular, he wrote:
“In earlier wars, conquest of territory was considered important. In the future, the conquest of souls in the enemy country will be most important. The fighting will not happen on a two-dimensional level, as in the past, nor in three-dimensional space, as during the birth of military aviation, but in a four-dimensional space where the psychology of the warring nations becomes the fourth dimension … fighting in the future will use rebels, guerrillas, saboteurs, terrorists, propagandist on large scale.”
Obviously, this is exactly what the Kremlin had in mind when it launched the hidden war against Ukraine in Crimea and began fueling the instability in the eastern and southern regions of our country. In the Pentagon, as early as 2004, it was believed that China, North Korea, Iran and Russia would be the first countries to launch hybrid wars. This new war relies on using the civilian population to whip up mass hysteria and opposition to lawful authority and to provide reliable “human shields” to cover the armed militants.
From the aggressor’s perspective , it is here that the informational component plays perhaps its most important role in shaping the “correct” view of the victims of this war. This is much more important than achieving actual victory. The killing of foreign soldiers ceases to be the main goal — in a hybrid war killing one’s own soldiers suffices since it guarantees the required informational support.
In conducting this war, the aggressor attributes to his victim what he, in fact, does himself. Everything is as described by Orwell — the victim is transformed into the aggressor in the eyes of the consumer of this information, and the aggressor becomes the just avenger. Informational infection thus takes place.
The main target in a hybrid war is not the adversary but the population that is being “liberated.” The objectives and methods of such a war are clear — to encourage citizens to betray their own country and support the aggressor. Additionally, all means are utilized to shape the aggressor’s desired depiction of events in the international community.
The non-standard nature of such a war is based on the non-official involvement of non-governmental implementers — “polite (little green) men,” the “volunteers” who are, in fact, commonplace mercenaries and local traitors. They are not bound by international law and are simply doing the “dirty work.”
An important feature of the hybrid war is the active use of asymmetric fighting, which is characterized by a significant difference between military power and the strategies and tactics of the participants. This type of warfare is extremely difficult to counter, since there are no formal grounds for fighting with the aggressor state, who only unofficially (but very actively) supports the militants and terrorists.
This is how the extensive agent network of the intelligence services of the Russian Federation, the Russian saboteurs and mercenaries are operating in the east of our country today. And Russia is supplying them with weapons and new fighters and continuing to shell our positions from Russian territory.
In this undeclared war against Ukraine, Russia is actively using the methods of the information-psychological war that is designed to destroy the morale of the soldiers and the civilian population of our country. The so-called “journalists” from the Russian channels LifeNews, Russia Today and the like are “dual-use weapons,” performing the functions of shaping the “right image” for propaganda purposes while conducting intelligence and subversive work as agents of the special services of the Russian Federation.
Russian military experts and scientists have been working on developing information and information-psychological war for some time and quite thoroughly. In particular, the Russian scientist Andrey Manoilo, graduate of the FSB (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation) Academy, has explored with exceptional depth the phenomenon of current information warfare in his monograph “National information policy under special conditions.”
The author defines the status of the new war: ” The information-psychological war […] at this time represents the most socially dangerous form … of confrontation, carried out by violent means and attempts to influence the information-psychological sphere of the opponent with the goal of achieving strategic objectives.”
We can cite a few more descriptions by experts who view the information war as an integral part of the hybrid war:
Information Warfare — the purposeful actions designed to ensure information superiority by damaging the information processes and systems of the enemy while ensuring the safety of one’s own information, information processes and systems. The components of information warfare are information and psychological warfare and cyber warfare.
Information-psychological war — is designed to have a specific influence on the military and civilian population of a country — the targets of the prepared information-psychological operation.
Cyber war — component of the information war, which is designed to damage or destroy the information infrastructure of the opponent (including software and hardware) through penetration of the infrastructure and illegal hacking.
Information weapons — a set of technical and other means, methods, and technologies that are determined not so much by their own properties but by the properties of the objects against which the information weapons are applied. Information weapons integrate all the means of influencing the foundation of any society through information.
To understand the strategy and actions of the enemy it is advisable to note his main approaches to the implementation of the information war.
Russian specialists define information war as a confrontation between states in the information space that are designed to damage the information systems, processes and resources of critically important structures, to undermine the political, economic and social systems, and also to submit the population to mass psychological manipulation in order to destabilize the society and the state.
The basic training of the Russian special services specifies:
– Secret information-psychological operations serve as the basis for conducting the information war through the influence of managed information on the consciousness of individuals, groups or masses and on the will and feelings of the citizens of another country. It also includes the disruption of the information infrastructure and media of the enemy country and the disinformation of those making political, economic, and other governmental decisions.
– These measures are designed to have a negative impact on the awareness and systems of knowledge and understanding in the target country and to organize the desired sources of influence beyond its borders.
– To implement these steps an information gathering and distribution center must be developed that operates in real time.
– Fighting must be preceded by the ability to provide rapid disruption of the political and economic government infrastructures of the enemy as well as their communication systems and electronic warfare.
– An important component of modern warfare (not only information warfare) is the question of morale. The creation of a system for the moral-psychological training of Russian soldiers and the development of algorithms to undermine the morale of the enemy is a crucial factor in modern warfare.
The targets for attack are identified:
– The information structure of the state
– The awareness, will, and feelings of the soldiers and various segments of the civilian population, especially during elections and crises.
– The system of decision-making in the political, economic, social, scientific-technical fields and in the area of security and defense.
-The more negatively oriented groups (the opposition, dissidents, the criminal elements, etc.), viewed as means to intensify the crisis in the enemy’s society.
Ukrainian experts have identified a number of threats to Ukraine in the context of the information war.
- The massive information-psychological operations and cyber warfare that accompany military action against Ukraine.
- The latent (hidden, marginal) actions of the enemy. The Russian Federation is actively using the religious factor to promote its conditions for stabilizing the situation and to spread false statements about a peaceful settlement of the war. There are many eye-witness accounts of sermons by priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate about “militant heroes,” “holy war,” and the “Kyiv junta,” not only in the Donbas but also in the Sumy and Chernihiv oblasts. Another direction that is actively pursued is the spreading of rumors. The instruments of distribution are not only specific individuals and Russian TV, but also informational messages delivered through the printed press, leaflets, and local cable broadcasts.
- The information-propaganda structures on Ukrainian territory (information agencies, publishers, IT-structures, blogger groups, etc.) which formerly did not demonstrate their pro-Russian positions are now attempting to share their destructive (panicked, depressive) attitudes in Ukraine (“we’re nothing without Russia,” “Russia will swallow us,” etc.) to create a negative trend regarding Ukraine and at the same time a positive trend regarding Russia’s actions
- Inadequate implementation of necessary measures: the internal nature of the threats is based on opposition to the inherited bureaucratic system that is unable to handle current challenges.
- Massive cyber warfare. It should be noted that in 2004 the Russian Minister of Defense announced the launch of the program to expand cyber warfare and involve leading IT companies and scientific and educational institutions in this strategy, following the U.S. example. Russian structures that carry out cyber warfare are disguised as “anonymous hackers,” private individuals and organizations (“Cyber Berkut,” Anonymous).
Ukraine’s own capabilities and potential that must be used without fail:
We can identify the following factors that enhance a successful response and increase the effectiveness of Ukraine’s actions in the hybrid war in the context of informational warfare:
- General heightening of patriotism. Examples of heroic military deeds, the National Guard, the soldiers of the volunteer battalions, the volunteers, the material assistance to Ukrainian soldiers from local residents and from all the regions of Ukraine, the funds collected for the army, are examples not only of a high level of patriotism but also demonstrate the significant self-organizing capabilities of the population.
- Strategic Management. The creation of separate state and public situation centers (and the inclusion of existing ones) will ensure a prompt response to changes in the military-political situation. Building a networked system of situational management will ensure the preservation of stability and the continuity of government in the event of total and intense aggression on the part of Russia. The main conditions should be the qualifications of the personnel, the availability of horizontal connections with the structures of other law enforcement agencies, and the implementation of national standards for the delivery and content of information.
- Effective information politics. Namely, the daily context, the strategic direction and the feedback from the public. This direction is already being implemented, particularly on the basis of two integrated partner information platforms: civilian — in the form of the Ukrainian Crisis Management Media Center (UCMC), and state — the Information Analytical Center of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (IAC NSDC of Ukraine). We must understand that only the complete unified societal resistance to Russian aggression will lead us to victory. In the fight for Ukraine, all of us — the government agencies and the independent media, the independent journalists, and all Ukrainian citizens — must present a united front:
- Availability of a significant number of trained military and civilian professionals, especially in the area of information, including those trained in NATO programs and programs of other Western countries.
- A significant resource base, especially in the production and deployment of the information infrastructure for the benefit of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other law enforcement agencies.
- Changes in the geopolitical situation should be used for including experienced advisors and specialists in information warfare and military network operations (Net Centric Warfare). The involvement of advisors during the preparation and transformation of the military units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will avoid mistakes and help the army rise rapidly to the level of a modern military organization.
By confronting the West on the Ukrainian question, Moscow has relied on the active destabilization of the internal contradictions in “traditional” alliances such as EU and NATO. Moreover, the Russian rulers derive confidence from their corruption of the financial streams within the framework of the “new business relationships” with a number of leading, nominally “Western,” companies that in reality are governed by the Kremlin
The civilized world needs to realize that Ukraine may not be the final victim of the imperialistic revanchist plans of Moscow to impose the “Russian world” and alter the European and global security architecture to one aligned with Kremlin’s wishes.
Our neighbors may experience the treacherous methods of the Russian hybrid war as well — the former Soviet republics, such as Estonia and Latvia, where significant Russian-speaking population reside. Attempts to destabilize the situation in these countries in order to create “independent” pro-Russian enclaves (Narva, Tartu, Riga) should not be ruled out. Similarly, realizing that the continuing uninterrupted advancement of Chisinau in the direction of integration with Europe will finally move Moldova out of the zone of Russian influence, the Kremlin may exert “soft” diplomatic pressure and well as “tough” pressure on this country from the Transnistria territory.
Even a close alliance with Russia guarantees nothing. Increasingly, statements by various Russian politicians regarding Russian claims to the northern regions of Kazakhstan can be heard. The President of Belarus has something to consider as well as he plans his next steps.
The victories of Ukrainian armed forces in the east demonstrate that we have rapidly learned how to counter the enemy effectively, even under the most difficult conditions. The introduction of the third level of sanctions demonstrates that even Putin’s foreign policy plan has failed.
As was the case a thousand years ago, Ukraine again has become a shield for European civilization. Today Ukraine provides an example of successful resistance to Putin’s imperialistic aggression. We will return our native Crimea from Moscow’s captivity back to our united Ukrainian family. Victory over the enemy in a hybrid war can be achieved only through national unity and the mobilization of the entire society for the battle with a treacherous enemy. The terrorist and criminal groups, the foreign agent networks, and the resource bases of the aggressor on Ukrainian territory must be neutralized and disabled through clear and coordinated actions by our security agencies.
We also will win the information war by acting coherently, intelligently, and systematically. We will gain invaluable experience, new skills and habits. Ukraine will become much stronger.
By uniting and perfecting the two components of our struggle — the military-security component and the information one, we will restore peaceful life, security, and welfare to our native Donbas under the protection of the Ukrainian State.
We will stop Putin for the sake of peace in Ukraine and the world. Ukraine will win!by Andriy Parubiy, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, August 6, 2014
Translated by Anna Mostovych