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The New NATO: Prepared for Russian Hybrid Warfare?

The Ukrainian crisis altered the security paradigm in Europe by forcing NATO to revise its stance towards Russia, as it employed a wide array of military and non-military tools and tactics called “hybrid warfare.” To counter Russian hybrid warfare in future, the NATO Alliance implemented functional and structural changes known the Readiness Action Plan (RAP) and endorsed the New Strategy on Hybrid Warfare. This paper will study Russian hybrid warfare activities and the preparedness of an Alliance shaped by the RAP and the New Strategy on Hybrid Warfare. It discusses whether this new NATO will be able to deter Russia from resorting to hybrid warfare against a NATO ally. While the Alliance has enhanced its military capabilities to a great extent, the Allies’ ability to achieve consensus on a response is the factor most likely to deter and dissuade Russia from engaging in hybrid warfare.

The New NATO Prepared for Russian Hybrid Warfare
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko after signing bilateral agreements in Kiev on September 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV
 

Introduction

The Russian military activities that resulted in the illegal annexation of Crimea and the crisis in Eastern Ukraine have been defined as “hybrid warfare” by Western countries and declared one of the greatest security threats facing Europe and NATO. There is consensus among most observers, including NATO officials, that the Alliance was caught by surprise, failing to deter Russian activities and prevent the annexation of Crimea. In the face of reluctance amongst member countries to invest funds and attention, the Ukrainian crisis served as a warning on the new security risks facing the Alliance.

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