The view from the Kremlin
Russian thinking is a hybrid itself, between context and concept: what happens when a body of thought that dates back to and through Soviet times meets the demands, opportunities and idiosyncrasies of the modern world. Russian military thinkers can draw on an especially rich experience of information operations. Valerii Gerasimov was not presenting a blueprint for a future without conventional military operations, nor yet hybrid war as understood in the West. He was expressing Russia’s conviction that the modern world was seeing more complex and politically-led forms of contestation alongside regular warfare. A century-old debate in Russian theoretical circles about the definition of war in many ways echoes Frank Hoffman in his identification of organised armed state violence as the crucial factor distinguishing ‘struggle’ from ‘war.’ Time and again, military writers flirted with the notion of war without open fighting. The Kremlin’s incumbents saw wholly non-military yet essentially assertive and subversive approaches as interchangeable with directly military ones.