Countering Russia's Hybrid Warfare in the Baltic Region
Taking the Baltic states as an example, this commentary argues that the increasing prominence of ‘hybrid threats' in the current conflict that opposes the West to Russia makes a case for a redefinition of what constitutes a 'security threat' by NATO allies, and highlights the need for a fundamental rethink of NATO strategy towards Russia. While NATO has long focused on the ‘hard' dimension of security, leaders should bear in mind that the current standoff with Russia is no longer ‘just' a military matter.
Russia's efforts at bolstering military science and the domestic defence industry, along with the involvement of non-state actors in the form of ‘proxy groups', such as foundations and government organised non-governmental organisations (GONGOS), and large-scale disinformation campaigns not only in the Russian near abroad but also in Western countries, suggest that the concept of ‘war' can no longer be confined to the military sector stricto sensu.
As hybrid tactics target the core foundations of states, and seek to exploit potential weaknesses and divisive tendencies within societies to sow discord and foment disunity, NATO members must look beyond traditional responses and complement military might with a ‘soft' approach that promotes the rule of law, the development of resilient democracies and robust market economies, and the formulation energy security strategies geared to lessening dependence on Russian gas imports.
Elodie Sellier is currently conducting research on EU-Russia relations at the European Parliament. She writes in her own capacity.