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Ukraine, the Shadow War

For the most part, Russia’s war against Ukraine focusses our attention squarely on the conventional fighting.

However, this war encompasses a great deal of hybrid action, prompting Der Spiegel to label this shadow war, as Russia employs the usual – and or not so new – indirect means and methods in addition to brute force to attain Vladimir Putin’s goals.

At the same time, Ukraine has shown itself prepared and resilient against these tactics, turning them around against its enemy. The West’s efforts to support Ukraine, are also being undermined. How are we to evaluate the role of hybrid action in this conflict therefore, and what should we take away from it?

In line with tried and tested KGB methods, the elements of Russian hybrid warfare (gibridnaya voyna) remain their so-called active measures (aktivinyye meropriatia): manipulating political divisions, diplomatic obfuscation, economic pressure, and a concerted and well-organized, if increasingly obvious, information campaign.

The Russian intelligence services FSB and SVR – the KGB’s successors – with military intelligence GRU conduct these campaigns. Here we highlight information operations and the cyber offensive.

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