The roots of Russian conduct
Some argue that there are no external threats to Russia, beyond terrorism or internal conflicts. That defence expenditures are too high. Russia is left with a military force that is only – permanently – part-way through modernisation, a process coming under growing economic pressure. A recurring theme in Russian official and unofficial statements is the belief that their country has been belittled and beaten down by the West. Moscow genuinely believes it is working to try and catch up in developing state-wrecking and coercive capabilities acquired and honed by the West. However wrong-headed it may be, this perception shapes the Russian approach to hybrid war and the ways it is building its own capabilities. Moscow’s approach also reflects the political character of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. One distinctive aspect of its campaigns, from political ones against the West to military ones in Ukraine, has been a blurring of the borders between state, para-state, mercenary and dupe.