Kremlin. Voznesenskaya Square / Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
This article analyses the role of religion and moral values in the framework of Russian policies, the Kremlin intent to attract “people’s hearts, minds and souls” in different places all over the world, and the moral dimension of Moscow hybrid warfare against the West.
In the aftermath of the Crimea annexation in March 2014, the idea of ‘hybrid warfare’ rapidly gained importance as a concept that could help to explain the success of Russian military operations in this conflict. This concept quickly gained traction, because it appeared to be particularly relevant to this operation where non-military tools played a central role.
As used today in reference to Russia, “hybrid warfare” refers to Moscow’s use of a broad range of subversive instruments, many of which are non-military, to further Russian national interests. Russian hybrid strategies are not new but are updated for the twenty-first Century. The Russians have been able to combine various military forms of warfare with economic, information, and diplomatic instruments of power into essentially a hybrid threat whole of government approach.
Russian hybrid warfare, economizes the use of force, is persistent and is population-centric: Russian military and political experts have seized upon the importance of an approach that seeks to influence the population of target countries through information operations, proxy groups, and other influence operations.
Furthermore, the hybrid warfare that Russia has been waging against Europe and the West, especially since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis, is a fight for people’s hearts, minds and souls. Russia is not only trying to undermine trust in Europe and its institutions among European citizens, but it also aims to offer an ideological and moral alternative. This paper is intended to provide an introductory analysis on the moral dimension of Russian hybrid warfare against the West which is the export of “illiberal values” abroad.
Russian Orthodox Church in Vilnius / Photo by Fearless Fred, Wikimedia Commons
Russian nationalism began to rise along with the spread of the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). Russia today is still in the process of leaving the ideological vacuum that resulted from the Soviet Union’s collapse. What is emerging in its stead is a selective puzzle of the past that mixes Orthodox imagery with Soviet triumphalism, combined with an increasingly inward-looking nationalism.
The Russian public has embraced an increasingly conservative and nationalistic ideology. The new ideology is based on a deliberate recycling of archaic forms of mass consciousness, a phenomenon that can be termed “the sanctification of un-freedom”. Freedom of expression has been significantly reduced through a system of bans and strict forms of punishment, including criminal prosecution, which have both didactic and deterrent components. Pressure on democratic media outlets has also increased drastically. Ideology in Russia is a mass product that is easy to absorb; it is legitimized by constant references to the past, glorious traditions, and occasionally fictional historical events.
When President Vladimir Putin came to power he realized the potential of the ROC, which shared his views of Russia’s role in the world, and began to work toward strengthening its role in Russia, home of the world’s largest Orthodox community (officially numbered at some 100 million believers). The patriarch of Moscow, Archbishop Kirill, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia has in recent years cemented an alliance for the pursuit of common values at home and abroad. These shared values can be characterized as openly traditionalist, conservative, anti-Western and anti-globalist.
President Vladimir Putin and the ROC share a sacralised vision of Russian national identity and exceptionalism. According to their vision, Russia is neither Western nor Asian, but rather a unique society representing a unique set of values which are believed to be divinely inspired. The Kremlin’s chief ideologue in this regard is Alexander Dugin. Dugin’s ideology is anti-Western, anti-liberal, totalitarian, “ideocratic”, and socially traditional. And it labels rationalism as Western and thus promotes a mystical, spiritual, emotional, and messianic worldview.
Essential elements of this ideology are: integrative patriotism (pride in Russia diversity, its history and its place in the world; sovereign democracy (defines their own democracy and protects themselves from external values); and orthodox Christianity (unite the East Slavonic people around orthodox Christian cultural norms and values).
Within Russia the ROC cooperates with state structures, and inside the Universal Orthodox Church the ROC has a well thought out policy that coincides in many respects with the goals of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Moreover, Moscow views the ROC as a reserve diplomatic channel. In 2007, the Kremlin established the Russkiy Mir (Russian World) Foundation, embarking on a concerted soft-power campaign to promote Russian language and culture beyond the country’s borders. For many analysts the term Russky Mir, exemplifies an expansionist and messianic Russian foreign policy, the intersection of the interests of the Russian state and the ROC.The project initially focused on promoting closer political and economic ties with Russian speakers in the former Soviet republics, but it soon came to incorporate a worldview constructed in opposition to the West.
Firmly convinced that a dominating role for the ROC within the Orthodox world will allow the Moscow Patriarchate to take better care of its own interests as well as those of the state, the Russian authorities are interested in reinforcing the position of the Russian church in the worldwide Orthodox community.
Although there is clearly a great deal of overlap between the religious and political uses of the Russky Mir concept, there are some differences. As used by the state, Russky Mir is typically a political or a cultural idea. In both senses it is used by groups working for the Russian government to strengthen the country’s domestic stability, restore Russia’s status as a world power, and increase her influence in neighbouring states. As used by the Church, Russky Mir is a religious concept. It is essential for reversing the secularization of society throughout the former Soviet Union; a task Patriarch Kirill has termed the “second Christianization” of Rus. The ROC opposes the societies built on the values of “traditional religions” (i.e. Islam and Orthodox — “true” — Christianity) and the spiritless (and, seemingly, non-Christian) secular liberalism-based Western societies.
In their symbiotic relation, the ROC is publicly conflating the mission of the Russian state under President Vladimir Putin’s leadership with the mission of the Church, sacralising the Russian national identity. Russian government leans on the church to provide it historical and cultural legitimacy, and the church relies on the Kremlin to support its position as a moral arbiter for society.The ROC conservative clerics have given their support to the government’s most polarizing recent laws, such as the so-called 2013 LGBT propaganda law, the 2012 Foreign Agents Law, the 2013 Law Protecting Religious Feelings, and the 2015 Undesirable Organizations Law, which seriously limited freedom of speech and hobbled civil society. Since the first large-scale anti-regime protests in 2011, the regime placed new urgency on describing oppositionists as “a treacherous fifth column corrupted by their embrace of permissive Western attitudes and money from foreign donors”. In May 2016 the head of the ROC, Patriarch Kirill, had already made clear his sentiments toward the constitutionally protected concept of human rights when he condemned what he called the “heresy” of some human rights. The ROC and the state now unite in violation of the Constitution. The establishment of the ROC is gradually taking on some functions of the state, and the security arm of the state is protecting the Orthodox establishment.
Stunned by the 2011 mainly middle-class, largely pro-Western protests, the Kremlin turned to Russia’s more conservative, more xenophobic heartland for support. The ROC played a key role in this move both, playing an increasingly significant role in representing the interests of Russia abroad and justifying its increasingly conservative agenda at home. Since 2012, the official discourse emphasizes ‘traditional values’ and ‘spiritual bonds’, thus referring to the presumed existence of a genuine Russian culture and spirit, uncontaminated by the centuries of “westernizing modernization”. Moreover, Orthodoxy is considered to be the custodian of traditional values and norms of family and social organization which have to be the base of society. As such, it is part of a cultural defense against liberalism and against an emasculated, “vassalized” and de-Christianized European Union. In Russia, Orthodox Christianity is enjoying a revival after 70 years of communist repression. The ROC is aiming to restore moral and cultural values and overcome modernization’s effects on post-Soviet Russian society. The ROC’s role is especially crucial given that cultural and political power seem intertwined in modern Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin / Photo by The Russian Presidential Press and Information Office, Wikimedia Commons
Religious diplomacy allows a state to use certain aspects of religion symbols and messages in international affairs. However, little attention has been paid to the role played by religion either as a shaper of Russian domestic politics or as means of understanding President Vladimir Putin’s international actions. The instrumentalization of religion for political aims has a long and rich tradition, which is evidenced in both Russia’s internal and foreign policies. At the same time, the Russian state continues to claim continuity with its imperial predecessors, which involves a civilizing mission in relation to its own population as well as a claim to the status of great power and to a prominent role in world affairs.
Around the world religion is on the rise. A variety of trends, including demographic shifts, urbanization, and the global transformation of religion, indicate that religion will help shape the dynamics of existing, new, and emerging great powers. Globalization’s transformational effect on religion will also play a key role in the prevalence of global terrorism, religious conflict, and other threats to international security. Globalization also gives greater influence to ethnic and religious diasporas.
According to the 2010 census, ethnic Russians accounts for 77.7 percent of 142.3 million estimated Russian population. The image of Russia in the world is rarely associated with Islam and Islamic identity, in general. While Orthodox Christianity is the country’s predominant confession, not many know that Russia is home to as many as 20 million Muslims of various ethnic backgrounds. Russian leaders and politicians repeatedly stress the significance of Islam as integral to the political fabric of statehood, historically and in the contemporary era. Islam in Russia is a complex, transversal and multidimensional issue and its growing importance in Russia will shape the future of the country in at least five main directions: the overall demographic balance of the country; the strategy of ‘normalizing’ the regions of the North Caucasus; Russia’s migration policy; Russia’s positioning on the international scene; and the transformation of Russian national identity.
The “Islamic factor” also remains a part of Moscow’s foreign policy. With the end of the bipolar global system, Islam has fully integrated into international politics, while forces operating under religious slogans have become international political actors.
During the 1990s, something akin to a Russian strategy vis-à-vis Islam developed. In brief, Moscow followed a strategy of mediation without attaching great hopes to it. On many occasions, Russia emphasized its respect for Islam, the Muslim countries and their leaders, as well as the need to promote reconciliation between different cultures and civilizations. The relations between Moscow and those countries are based on the premise that Russia is a multi-confessional (mainly Christian/Moslem) country, which predetermines its right to simultaneously exist in two different civilizations.
Outside observers typically consider Russia’s large Muslim population to be a great challenge (or even a threat) for the country and its leadership. Nevertheless, President Vladimir Putin appears to have a different view and may see not only challenges but opportunities, including in Russia’s diplomacy in the Middle East and elsewhere in the Islamic world. He has increasingly emphasized Russians’ shared moral values and tries to connect Russia’s “traditional” values to those in the Middle Eastern, Asian and other non-Western societies.
The most important thing for Russia was to find a place for itself in the world and compensate for worsened relations with the West by a more active policy in other regions. After Vladimir Putin came to power, the Muslim vector of Russia’s policy increased.
Russian Patriarch Filaret (Denysenko) / Wikimedia Commons
As one of the poles of a new global order, ‘Orthodox civilisation’ corresponds to the main goals of Russian foreign policy. The idea of a civilisation with the potential to reconcile western Christianity and Islam could give a new dimension to the international role of Russia, and the supremacy of the Moscow Patriarchate within the Universal Orthodox Church would be in the common interest both of the Russian Orthodox Church and of the Russian state.
While clearly identifying Russia as a largely Christian country, President Vladimir Putin is attempting to establish a dividing line between the shared values of believers in many religious traditions and those of the “decadent” secular West, to make Western values into a liability rather than an asset for Western governments. Russia has developed in recent years a new doctrine, according to which Muslim countries are Russia’s natural allies in the confrontation with the West. This approach exploits the fact that many in the Middle East — in both government and society — are indeed disturbed by the encroachment of liberal Western social values that has accompanied globalization. Muslim public opinion in general, above all in the Arab world, has a rather neutral or sometimes positive view of Russia, since it promotes a discourse that is critical of US-style democracy promotion and its attendant interference.
This may become Russia’s most significant effort to date to develop a soft power strategy to combat Western influence in the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia and elsewhere in the Islamic world. One event that contributed to the establishment of these special relations was Russia’s accession to the Organization of the Islamic Conference as observer nation with a Muslim minority.
In the 2013 Valdai Club meeting, President Vladimir Putin began his speech by noting that countries must do everything in their power to preserve their own identities and values, for “without spiritual, cultural and national self-definition . . . . one cannot succeed globally.“. Conservative values are an important card in the hands of President Vladimir Putin, who recognizes that Muslim cooperation is a necessity for his foreign policy goals, including the maintenance of solid relations with Iran, Syria, and other states in the Muslim world that might serve as counterweights to the expansion of U.S. power.
Russian use of religion and values goes further. The Kremlin is seeking to spread an ultraconservative worldview, based on the Eurasianist ideology and some principles of the Orthodox Church. Thus, Putin can be put in line with other more and more autocratic leaders who resort to some sort of ultra-conservative, traditionalist, religious agenda in legitimizing their increasingly anti-liberal establishments pitted against the West. In order to achieve specific political and policy goals, Russia is using a “cultural counterrevolution”.
As practiced today, Russian hybrid warfare can have at least three objectives: Capturing territory without resorting to overt or conventional military force; creating a pretext for overt, conventional military action; using hybrid measures to influence the politics and policies of countries in the West and elsewhere. This objective is currently the most pressing challenge for Western governments: the Kremlin seeks to ensure that political outcomes in targeted countries serve Russia’s national interests. Most vulnerable are countries with weak legal and anticorruption measures or where key domestic groups share Russia’s interests or worldview.
Generally, there is a new wave of anti-human-rights movements all over Europe that question the very foundation of traditional conservative politics built upon a “human rights consensus”. Thus, a “profound change in the European political and value system” is under way with some countries “questioning the universal human rights framework of politics based on their ‘cultural’ exceptionalism”
Populist extremist parties present one of the most pressing challenges to European democracies. These parties share two core features: they fiercely oppose immigration and rising ethnic and cultural diversity; and they pursue a populist ‘anti-establishment’ strategy that attacks mainstream parties and is ambivalent if not hostile towards liberal representative democracy. Two core issues lie at the root of today’s rising populism: the challenge of migration and the lingering euro crisis. The populist surge is partly a rational response to the apparent political failures of the established parties.
This map shows the 1979 demographic distribution of Muslims within the Soviet Union as a percentage of the population by administrative division. / Wikimedia Commons
The upsurge of populism in Europe has provided Russia with an ample supply of sympathetic political parties across the continent. These parties – mostly from the far right but also from the far left – are pursuing policies and taking positions that advance Russia’s agenda in Europe. They tend to be anti-establishment parties ― some on the extreme fringes of the political spectrum ― that challenge the mainstream liberal order in Europe. Their agenda, depending on specific in-country conditions, may be anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, anti-Roma, anti-gay, anti-immigrant.
The crisis of the refugees was a perfect example of this trend. The worsening conditions in Middle East and other areas in Africa and Central Asia forced many refugees towards Europe. Since the refugee crisis began, a part of European media showed Iraqi and Syrian refugees as outsiders, whose values and culture oppose European values and culture. In this context, many Europeans, including journalists, widely generalized about the massive amount of information about the refugees, Muslim immigrants, oversimplified conceptions, opinions, or images and regurgitated an incomplete narrative to the larger population.
Anti-immigration rhetoric increasingly went hand-in-hand with another terrible 21st century phenomenon – Islamophobia. Some commentators attribute this surprising and sudden wave of anti-Islamic sentiment and anti-refugee hatred to rising defensive nationalism and a sense of insecurity in a Europe because traditional stability appears to be under threat.The crisis of the refugees also activated a good amount of latent xenophobia, leading to anti-Islam protests, attacks on asylum centres and a good deal of bigoted bluster. Some governments in Eastern Europe even specifically indicated they do not want to accommodate non-Christian refugees, out of supposed fear over the ability of Muslims to integrate into Western society.
Actors of this profound change in European values often find their role and policy models in Russia, and some Russian actors try to use this process to their own advantage. The Russian president is simply taking advantage of Europe’s political and economic problems to stir a pot of brewing nationalist sentiment that is not of his making. In this context, the far right’s is gaining momentum. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, public opinion turned decidedly against the E.U., signalling that “euro-scepticism” was no longer the niche purview of the “crazies” on the political fringe.
Russia’s information warfare basically utilizes “principles and approaches of dismissing critics and distorting facts, as well as distracting ad dismaying adversaries through false information. Postmodern forms of propaganda and disinformation are “weaponizing” information, culture and money” to question the very foundations of liberal ideas and Western liberal establishments.
The fact that Russia is one of the biggest “illiberal states” in the world, with its cultural proximity to European societies, gives her unrivalled capabilities in these “traditionalist networks” struggling to reverse the development of worldwide human rights efforts in the 21st century. The Kremlin’s ideological impact joins forces with other global reactionary forces within the Russian Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, different evangelist movements in the United States, and thousands of pro-life, pro-family, and anti-abortion traditionalist NGOs – not to mention the dense network of far-right, and bizarrely, far-left movements running on similar or overlapping agendas. And as a consequence, we are witnessing xenophobic, homophobic, and generally anti-Western, illiberal groups in Europe finding an ally in the Kremlin, and rather than being ostracized from the European political and cultural landscapes, they may, and often do, turn to Russia for support.
Neo-Nazis in Russia, Creative Commons
Throughout the collection of white ethno-centrists, nationalists, populists and neo-Nazis that has taken root on both sides of the Atlantic, Russia and its President are seen as a symbol of strength, racial purity and traditional Christian values in a world under threat from Islam, immigrants and rootless cosmopolitan elites. The Kremlin has also provided financial and logistical support to far-right forces in the West.
The dissemination of anti-human rights and non-Western ideology abroad through soft power has three explicit channels: first, “public diplomacy,” primarily with the help of various organizations, events, forums, and conferences; second, media and social media, which are essential in diffusing an illiberal ideology; and third, “protection” of the Russian minority, or “compatriots,” abroad, including access to appropriate cultural, ideological and patriotic information/education.
In order to maintain its influence in the post-Soviet space, the Kremlin has developed a wide range of proxy groups in support of its foreign policy objectives, which promotes the Russian World (Russkiy Mir). This is flexible tool that justifies increasing Russian actions in the post-Soviet space and beyond. Pro-Russian actors undermine the social cohesion of neighboring states through the consolidation of pro-Russian forces and ethno-geopolitics; the denigration of national identities; and the promotion of anti-US, conservative Orthodox and Eurasianist values.
The post–Cold War period witnessed a number of ethnically-informed secessionist movements, predominantly within the former communist states. In order to dilute and weaken Western influence in countries of the former Soviet Union, Moscow is trying to undermine stability through different hybrid warfare methods. Soft power techniques based on Russia’s cultural, religious and linguistic attraction, which has proved to be powerful vehicles for spreading its ideological, informational and psychological influence in the countries of the former Soviet Union, were also extensively and aggressively combined with hard policy tactics.
Socio-political characteristics are manipulated in order to attractively emphasize a certain demographic’s “separateness” from the existing national fabric and thus ‘legitimize’ their forthcoming foreign-managed revolt against the authorities. The following are the most common socio-political structural vulnerabilities as they relate to the preparation for Hybrid War: ethnicity, religion, history, administrative boundaries, physical geography, and socio-economic disparity.
Kremlin, Moscow / Photo by Pavel Kazachkov, Wikimedia Commons
Russian influence and actors have been showing up over places where Western partners have pulled back or failed to deliver, Russia has eagerly stepped in. Moscow has found numerous openings and is also busily exploiting divisions within the Western camp. The Russian tool kit includes undermining democratic governance, stoking ethnic and religious tensions, and building new outposts for gathering intelligence and projecting military power.
The Kremlin understands that post-modern empires are created not only by military means but also narratives (values, history, culture, religion…): the battle of ideas.In the medium term, the contest for the ‘hearts and minds’ of citizens will persist. Greater transparency and deeper engagement with citizens as part of independent civil society organizations are the only ways to counter this challenge, bridging views and help counter the challenge of artificial divisions nurtured by the Kremlin-funded non-state actors.
To counter Russia’s actions is also vital for Western countries to invest in two things above all else: in strengthening its own society and in international cooperation. This means increasing society’s crisis tolerance and resilience, ensuring the readiness and ability to act of the political and administrative leadership of the country, updating legislation, and investing in defence and intelligence.
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- Just how much influence the ROC has within Russian society is illustrated by poll numbers that show that the vast majority of Russians self-identify as Russian Orthodox (estimates range from 68-90 percent), although the majority of these do not attend services or otherwise publicly practice their faith. In fact, a sizeable minority of Russians (polls have shown around 30 percent) who self-identify as Russian Orthodox simultaneously describe themselves as being atheist, illustrating that many value the Church primarily a symbol of Russian culture and national identity than as an actual spiritual presence in their day to day lives. For both those who practice their faith regularly and for those who view Russian Orthodoxy as primarily a cultural symbol, however, the Church has a deep well of social trust, and the vast majority of Russians share the Church’s vision of Russian national exceptionalism and suspicion of the West. Coyer, Paul. 21 May 2015.
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- In February 2006, at a meeting in the Vienna headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed the hope that “the Russian Orthodox Church will play a role in the settlement of the present contradictions and the easing of the conflict of civilizations.” Malashenko, Alexei. The Islam Factor in Russia’s Foreign Policy. Russia in Global Affairs.Vol.5.No. 3.July-September. 2007.
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- The conflation of Russia’s economic, political, and military interests with a moral opposition to the West was sharply evinced in Putin’s 2013 speech at the Valdai Discussion Club, where he insisted: “We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilization. . . . They are implementing policies that equate large families with same-sex partnerships, belief in God with the belief in Satan.” Soroka, George. February 11, 2016.
- Curanovic, Alicja. December 2007.
- Nicolai N. Petro. March 23, 2015. Rus is the eastern Slavic proto-state, centred in the city of Kiev, which was established in the ninth century and accepted Christianity from Byzantium in 988 AD. Rus includes Ukraine, despite being now a sovereign country. Ukraine is considered as Rus spiritual and national birthplace, despite being run by a government that is seen from Russian perspective as trying to distance itself from the civilizational root common to all eastern Slavs. Soroka, George. February 11, 2016.
- As Metropolitan Kirill (now patriarch) actually said in 2004 during his official visit to Kuwait, “Certain phenomena that are considered to be sinful from both Christian and Muslim point of view are often treated as a norm in the modern system of human rights, which is based on secular, liberal values”. Petrenko, Galina. 4-6 July 2012.
- In exchange, early in Vladimir Putin’s presidency, the Russian Duma passed a law returning all church property seized during the Soviet era. Over the past decade and a half, Putin has ordered state-owned energy firms to contribute billions to the rebuilding of thousands of churches destroyed under the Soviets, and many of those rich oligarchs surrounding him are dedicated supporters of the ROC who have contributed to the growing influence of the church in myriad ways. Additionally, the ROC has been given rights that have vastly increased its role in public life, including the right to teach religion in Russia’s public schools and the right to review any legislation before the Russian Duma. Coyer, Paul. May 2015.
- Soroka, George. February 11, 2016.
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- At the beginning of 1990’s, there was increase in religious associations and religious activities also increased. Religious tradition and values are much more based on Christianity due to majority of believers in Russia. So, Russian Orthodox Church is not only just a religious institution besides, it has crucial role of civil society in Russia. Even if people do not believe in Christianity, they identified themselves with values and norms of Christianity. Therefore, the religious organizations and intuitions play active role in social sphere in post- Soviet Russia. Seckin, Ecem. Social Issues in Post-Soviet Russia.The Graduate School of Social Sciences of Middle East Technical University. January 2015.
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- For more information on this topic, please see Antunez, Juan Carlos. Islam in Russia: Challenge or Opportunity?Análisis GESI, 34/2016
- Malashenko, Alexei. July-September. 2007.
- In fact this overall strategy vis-à-vis Islam and the Muslim world, it is replete with contradictions. On the one hand, there is the conviction that Russia ought to strive for an alliance with the Islamic countries or at least some of them (above all Turkey and Iran—the Arab countries usually figure last and Pakistan does not figure at all). On the other hand, a deep distrust prevails. Laqueur, Walter. Russia’s Muslim Strategy. Middle East Papers: Middle East Strategy at Harvard. November 1, 2009. Number Six.
- The religious-political reawakening of Islam (and often of radical Islam) coincided with the growth of a radical nationalist mood among the Russian population. This had partly to do with the influx of Muslims in the major Russian cities, which generated hostility and xenophobia. The Russian foreign ministry was preoccupied with the foreign political impact of anti-Muslim sentiments on Russia’s relations with the neighbouring Muslim countries. The reputation of Russia in the Muslim world was already at a low point due to the Afghan war and the first Chechen war (1994-96). This situation was even worse after the Russian support to Serbians in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. Ibid.
- Malashenko, Alexei. July-September. 2007.
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- Curanovic, Alicja. December 2007.
- Sanders, Paul J. May 29, 2014.
- Walter Laqueur. November 1, 2009.
- Paul J. Sanders. May 29, 2014.
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- Sanders, Paul J. May 29, 2014.
- However, Alexei Malashenko affirms that the rapprochement with the OIC failed to deliver Russia any dividends in the economy and real politics. Rather, the relationship was merely symbolic and served as an argument for the Kremlin to diversify its foreign policy. He adds that, on the whole, Russia’s approach to the Muslim world remains ambivalent. Attempts by President Vladimir Putin’s Russia for rapprochement with the Muslim world have not allayed mutual distrust. Malashenko, Alexei. July-September. 2007.
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- Many of these parties are working actively to undo the European project. They are generally suspicious of the United States and want to reduce its influence in Europe. Wesslau, Fredrik. Putin’s friends in Europe.European Council of Foreign Relations. 19 October 2016.
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- Russia also uses a range of proxies to further its interests. Proxies are often groups that have broad sympathy with Russia’s objectives. One of the Kremlin’s typical proxies is the Night Wolves, a biker club and ultranationalist, anti-American gang, whose leader is a personal friend of President Putin. The exact role of the Night Wolves is uncertain, although it can be used to intimidate populations and may facilitate a range of hybrid activities behind the scenes. Russia also seeks to exploit European protest movements. For example, it backed anti-European Union (EU) groups in a 2016 referendum on trade with Ukraine in the Netherlands. It is also suspected of supporting the anti-shale gas and other protest movements in Bulgaria that have complicated Bulgaria’s efforts to reduce its dependence on Russian energy sources. Chivvis, Christopher S. March 22, 2017.
- They can also establish alternative discourses to confuse decision-making where it is required, and act as destabilizing forces by uniting paramilitary groups and spreading aggressive propaganda. The activities of these proxy groups – combined with the extensive Russian state administrative resources and security apparatus, as well as the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church, pro-Russian elites, mass culture and the media – could seriously damage political transitions and civil societies in the region. Lutsevych, Orysia. Agents of the Russian World. Proxy groups in the Contestedneighbourhood. Chatham House.Russia and Eurasia Programme. April 2016.
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- Hybrid warfare methods include political, economic and energy pressure as well as deliberate coercion, extending to information warfare and propaganda, ideological warfare and other possible means of influencing the local populations. These latter methods may polarize local populations and undermine the overall security of the region. Ratsiborynska, Vyra. When Hybrid Warfare Supports Ideology: Russia Today. Research Paper. Research Division – NATO Defense Collegue, Rome – No. 133 November 2016.
- Hybrid Wars are always preceded by a period of societal and structural preconditioning. The first type deals with the informational and soft power aspects that maximize key demographics’ acceptance of the oncoming destabilization and guide them into believing that some type of action (or passive acceptance of others’ thereof) is required in order to change the present state of affairs. Korybko, Andrew. Hybrid Wars.Triggering Ethnic, Religious, Regional and Political Conflicts.Global Research. March 05, 2016.
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Originally published by GESI Analysis 42 (2017) under the terms of a Creative Commons Atribución-NoComercial-SinDerivadas 3.0 No portada license.