A Shifting Puzzle: Understanding and Countering Russian Hybrid Warfare

The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to release the fourteenth entry in its Mitchell Forum paper series, A Shifting Puzzle: Understanding and Countering Russian Hybrid Warfare, by Cadet Courtney Kunselman, of the US Air Force Academy.

Across the contemporary strategic environment the United States is facing around the world, so-called “hybrid warfare” use is growing more prevalent, Kunselman writes, and attention to this problem has risen significantly since the Russian intervention in Ukraine in 2014. Hybrid warfare combines conventional and unconventional tools and methods in order to produce strategically destabilizing effects, often involving elements of a country or an actor’s diplomatic, information, military, and economic means in combination.

Kunselman examines the implications of the shift from conventional and unconventional conflict to the embrace of hybrid warfare, as utilized by the Russian government. “While hybrid methods are certainly not new, their prevalence is on the rise,” she writes. Hybrid warfare is seen as a useful strategy for “states wanting to achieve strategic goals without participating in large-scale conventional conflict with the West.” By exploring the security threats Russia poses to the United States and its allied partners through hybrid warfare, Kunselman provides suggestions on how the US and its partners should respond to future challenges.

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