A green light for Putin? Germans say West hasn’t found way to block ‘hybrid’ war

In a hybrid war operation, Russian "little green men", heavily armed soldiers without insignia, annexed Crimea from Ukraine

In a hybrid war operation, Russian "little green men", heavily armed soldiers without insignia, annexed Crimea from Ukraine. February 2014.  

Analysis & Opinion, Russia

Moscow has been encouraged not only by the failure of the West to do more than impose economic sanctions in response to its invasion of Ukraine but also by the repeated declarations of Western leaders about what they won’t do, how unhappy they are to have had to do even what they have, and how much they would like to restore good relations.

But now Moscow has yet another reason to be encouraged: German analysts are now saying publicly that the West has not yet found an effective way to counter Vladimir Putin’s hybrid war strategy, a statement that will discourage those in Ukraine fighting back, increase support for appeasement in the West, and encourage Moscow to use this strategy elsewhere.

Yesterday, the Russian Service of Germany’s Deutsche Welle reported that on the basis of an analysis of Moscow’s strategy and tactics in Ukraine, German experts “have come to the conclusion that the West still has not found an answer” to them.

According to German experts, the West was surprised by what Moscow has done in Ukraine not only because it was focused on problems elsewhere but also because after the Cold War, the number of specialists in the West following developments in Russia and Eurasia “sharply contracted.”

As a result, they say, “certain processes in Russia and the reports of Russian commanders remained almost unnoticed in Germany” and elsewhere. Had the West been paying attention, it might have been possible to alert national political elites and “take preventive measures.” But that did not happen.

Russian thinking on how to conduct hybrid wars had been clearly and very publicly outlined by General Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian General Staff, more than a year before Moscow moved in Ukraine, according to Margarete Klein of the Berlin Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik.

In February 2013, Gerasimov said that the line between war and peace was being obliterated and that major powers must make use “not only of traditional means of armed force but also political, economic and information-technology measures.” That is exactly what Moscow has done in Ukraine, Klein says.

Dustin Dehez, the director of the private research Manatee Global Advisors Institute seconds Klein’s view and says that Russia’s new method of conducting war has put the West in a situation where it has not yet articulated a strategy to counter it effectively.

That strategy, he says, consists of using “little green men” and other means that conceal what Moscow is doing or at least confuse the situation and thus “deprive the opponent and his allies of the possibility of rapidly and decisively reacting to the intervention.”

Moreover, and perhaps even more important, the Russian approach has “in fact neutralized” NATO’s nuclear deterrence doctrine because what Moscow is doing does not appear to rise to the level of a threat that NATO would conclude it had no choice but to respond with such weapons.

During the Cold War, this problem did not exist, Dehez says, but now, it very much does; and he asks how would the alliance likely react “if in some railway station in Estonia or second-tier sports airport in Lithuania suddenly appeared ‘little green men’ without identifying marks.” Few would be willing to push the nuclear button to stop Russia.

According to the German analyst, Moscow learned its lesson in this regard in Georgia in 2008 when it suffered much greater political harm than it expected when it directly intervened. And it concluded that “if there is the possibility of avoiding direct military confrontation, then that is how it is necessary to act.”

In support of this new military strategy, Dehez says, Moscow also worked to affect public opinion in the West and “in the first instance in Germany” by using “paid trolls” who could respond to any criticism of Moscow and increase the number of those in Western society who would oppose taking action against the Kremlin.“And the West,” he concludes, “has still not found any way to respond to the new military strategy of Russia.”

Edited by: A. N.

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  • Roger Mikael Klang

    The problem with Germany is that Merkel thinks that the world dispise nazis. So she repress the old remnants of an old regime, thinking that she and The majority Germans will be accepted and taken into the warmth. But Britain’s loathing of Germans come from that they want to preserve what little greatness they have left. Not from that they believe that Germans inherit rasism in their genes. But likewise as in my country the Germans are loathed for their unwillingess to take sides. The nazis are gone but the evil banality lives on from the Weimar republic. That is why they are loathed, because Merkel think that she is normal but in reality she and our former governnent are the abnormal ones in the eyes of the world. She is doing everything in her power to bring back the marching and The general killing of everyone and anyone. She doesnt know it but that is what she is doing. Freedom cannot be restricted, it can only be lost.

    • Roger Mikael Klang

      That means freedom for all country men and women. How do you stop a nazi? By giving him space to breathe!

      • Roger Mikael Klang

        There is a differense between state sanctioned rasism and individual rasism. A state that sanctions rasism is evil. But an individual must be given his democratic rights by the state.
        So how do you give a nazi air to Breathe? Likewise as you give joe sixpack air to Breathe; by having real maximum penalties and by introducing Death penalty as capital punishment for murder one. And by making it possible for Joe sixpack to arm himself and making it possible for him to defend himself against vicious gangs. That is why America is the freest land in the World, there is something for every lawbiding Citizen! In my country reactionaries are shunned to the forrest more or less.

  • puttypants

    What a bunch of cowardly BS…we knew all along greed over values…Europeans just proved it. Their appeasement of Putin will come back to haunt them. A monster is a monster is a monster. They’ve just allowed him to become a bigger one. Poor Ukraine!!! How many more centuries before they are free…will there be a Ukraine after this? I cry…all my ancestors who’s ashes lay in that soil cry. How they fought to be Ukrainians!!! Germany has no excuses…europe has no excuses except absolute moral corruption. I don’t know how they sleep at night!

  • Dean Venture

    The way to stop the hybrid war is simple. Seal the borders, and destroy anything that tries to come over. Crack down on any illegal activities in which Russian minorities engage.

    I’d hate to see it come down to what the allies did to German minorities after WW II – they sent them packing, back to Germany and Austria. 12 million ethnic Germans were expelled from Eastern Europe. Since then, no German leader has ever had to interfere in another country to ‘protect ethnic Germans’.

  • disqus_aJpixObjG7

    here are NO REBELS in UKRAINE because there is NO CIVIL WAR,


    INVASION of UKRAINE BY russian FASCIST FORCES. Anyone who brings the word nazi

    or fascist in a reportage re UKRAINE is in fact an ACTIVE PUTINIST.



    At this point the farce has developed to typical repetitive macchiavellian

    historical proportions.

    It is a BLACK AND WHITE story of GOOD AGAINST EVIL of UKRAINE defending itself against

    russia. It is a story of Abominable cowardice, abominable betrayal, abominable

    appeasement on the part of the West.

    A neo fascist, illegitimate, unelected (“elected” by massive electoral fraud)

    dictator and his neo fascist regime

    (78% of the Russian Duma are neo nazi, neo fascist and /or extreme right


    invades a neighboring sovereign nation.

    He invades to punish it, to reconquer it for the crime of rising up en masse in

    a people’s revolution, overthrowing a murderous russian puppet who actively

    worked to destroy Ukraine and on the side embezzled over 100 billion dollars of

    state funds.

    In response, the West –all its politicians and all its media- rushes, scurries

    to the Kremlin to kneel behind the mass muderer Putin and get a long brown


    Ukraine does not need to ASK NATO for help because great Britain and the USA

    together with France and China are LEGALLY BOUND by the Budapest Memorandum to

    do- IMMEDIATELY, WITHOUT ANY ASKING- all that is necessary to drive russian invaders and

    their murderous terrorist proxies out of Ukraine, which includes Crimea, and to

    secure Ukraine’s borders.

    This implies not just the LEGALLY BINDING RESPONSIBILITY to supply Ukraine with

    overwhelming modern weaponry but also to provide ALL the “boots” on the ground

    as well as air and naval power needed to quickly accomplish this.

    So any talk of perhaps, maybe, one day considering to eventually propose to

    think about and possibly discuss the abstract idea of deciding to supply arms

    to Ukraine” is simply ILLEGAL AND CRIMINAL-

    a negation of international law and Legally binding obligations.

    As putin, the illegitimate neo fascist dictator pursues his goal of creating

    another NORTH KOREA ON A MASSIVE SCALE, the entire post-decadent and now

    degenerate West, scurries to appease the criminal russian dictator, but offers

    NO HELP WHATSOEVER to Ukraine.

    The left and the neo nazis of Europe and America have revealed their true

    fundamentally identical twin nature. They have revealed their pervert

    incestuous love affair, and entered into a three-way love affair with putin.



    SHELL UKRAINIAN CIVILIANS after every russian “humanitarian” convoy

    brings thousands of tons of rockets mortars and artillery shells the russian

    FASCIST BANDITS start up again shooting them at UKRAINIAN PEOPLE ans destroying them and their houses. Then they BRAINWASH the people telling the that Ukrainians, not russians shelled them. All Western journalists repeat this abominable lie.

  • Dalton

    Very simple solution- Limit Russian visas. No more extended stays; limited number allowed in a country at any given time; etc. Once Russians begin to feel unwelcomed, maybe they will understand why they are, and do something about it with their Tsar.

  • Mephisto

    I am really angry at Merkel. I never believed her to be that stupid. And I blame her as the main culprit of this appeasement. The West could have had done much more – at least in terms of much more severe economic sanctions.

  • Murf

    Hybrid war is nothing new. The USSR did this all the time.
    All you need is a intelligence service that will keep the hell raisers under control. If they can’t the the trouble makers need to wake up in a bed with under age hookers and a viral You Tube career.
    Putin got over big time with Ukraine. The Ukrainians trusted the Russians, admired them and treated them as brothers. His spies were deeply embedded in the government and military. They were right in his back yard with a dissatisfied minority they he could manipulate this was his best case scenario. A year later he still a mess on his hands and an economy in the toilet.
    The biggest thing is Putin has showed his true colors. This was his one shot and he has fired his bullet.
    The next time he tries to pull this crap EVERYBODY will be watching.