The Kremlin’s Hybrid Aggression

Free Russia Foundation is proud to present our new report «The Kremlin’s Hybrid Aggression» authored by Ilya Yashin.

Russia is critically interested in maintaining peaceful and good neighborly relations with surrounding countries. This guarantees our state economic advantages and political stability. And there is no doubt that it corresponds with the national interests of Russia.

However, instead of improving relations with the world around, Putin maintains a continuous policy of aggressively bringing to heel those countries which he sees as being in the realm of the Kremlin’s geopolitical influence. A broad arsenal of means is used for that: persuasion by propaganda, financial support of loyal parties and journalists, corruption, economic pressure, political blackmail, and finally direct military intervention.

Such hybrid aggression casts a shadow of doubt on the effectiveness of the European security systems, the vulnerability of which became obvious with the onset of Putin’s campaign against Ukraine. It should be noticed that the Kremlin strategists skillfully use methods of external pressure on Ukraine as well as «agents» inside the country – above all, local oligarchs interested in the reinstatement of the old ways.

The outcome of the showdown between the Kremlin and Ukraine will also directly affect the future of Russia and Europe. If Putin’s unrelenting pressure proves fruitful, and Kiev returns into the domain of the Kremlin influence, then there is no doubt that the Russian president will attempt applying the same methods towards other countries of the former USSR. Putin’s obvious targets are Moldova, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.

However, there are also risks for the Baltic States, in spite of their NATO membership. Putin has proven more than once that he is a threat to his citizens as well as the surrounding countries. And the less counteraction he encounters, the more aggressive his actions will become.


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