Guaranteeing National Security and Sustainable Social and Economic Development of States under Conditions of Growing “Hybrid” Threats
Distinguished participants of the conference! Ladies and gentlemen!
As the film that we have just seen shows, “hybrid” threats pose as a significant, and often a key, destabilizing factor for both specific countries and the system of international relations on the whole. One may say, this phenomenon is “as old as the hills”. After all, confrontation between world power centres has historically taken a “hybrid” form - not boiling down to armed conflicts, it has always involved social, economic and spiritual spheres as well. In a sense, the Cold War, the Napoleonic Wars, and even the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage were all “hybrid”.
Yet the present moment has a principal, qualitative novelty to it. In the 21st century, confrontation is taking place on the background of interdependency of states, peoples and individuals of a level unthinkable of in the previous times. Globalization, and information and technological revolution, have made the world very small. So small that risky ventures, to say nothing of mere rumours, engendered in one part of the world may cause a collapse of national currencies in another. Fake news duplicated by social and mass media have influence on regional and global processes. Wide spread of mobile Internet opens unseen-before possibilities to impact on human behavior and instincts in the most remote corners of the planet. Naturally, under these conditions the role of non-military tools in interstate relations is growing - which, however, does not deny the importance of possessing powerful armed forces. Many people believe that “soft” and “smart” power must rely upon “hard” one - that’s the essence of a “hybrid” conflict. Supporters of this policy must base upon a well-known statement attributed to Al Capone that “with a kind word and a gun you can achieve much more than with merely a kind word”.
“Hybrid” threats to national security manifest themselves most vividly in spheres where the level of integration of states and regions is particularly high. Thus, in economic field, unilateral sanctions and trade barriers contradictory to international law are employed. It’s an open secret that in the cause of several recent years they became a favourite method of U.S. policy. Most alarmingly, restrictive regimes are introduced on an absolutely arbitrary, spontaneous, impulsive basis. Their initiators fail to take into consideration not only long-term consequences, but the opinion of the closest economic partners as well. The most recent dramatic example is inclusion into the American terrorist lists of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps - the very organization that has made a great contribution to the fight against the Islamic State on the territory of Syria and Iraq!
Extremely destructive is the practice of exterritorial application of American laws, when Washington, by simply prohibiting other countries to cooperate with players inconvenient to it, actually creates for itself competitive preferences in trade. In this way, sanctions strike not only those they are intended against, but also many other economic players who are forced to rearrange their economical activity and incur extra costs. Global chains of production and delivery of raw materials, goods and services break down, affecting negatively the whole of the world economy.
It seems abnormal that the United States, behaving so aggressively and unpredictably, remain the keeper of the main reserve currency. Against the background of objective strengthening of multipolarity, the monopolistic status of the dollar in international economic relations is becoming anachronistic. The dollar is gradually getting toxic. The use of the American currency is now associated with so serious risks that an increasing number of states justifiably think of looking for alternative tools for foreign trade operations and step by step move away from using dollar in international payments.
Still more destructive influence is brought by “hybrid” methods upon the sphere of public conscience and public conduct. Under the pretext of “emancipation of people”, we witness a global process of aggressive erosion of traditional values, imposition of consumerism, formation of negative attitude towards any types of authority, in the first place towards the state. Belonging to a country and to a nation, values of family and faith - all these are brushed aside today in the name of abstract individual freedom. To promote this policy, a whole army of mass media, non-governmental organizations and transnational corporations is employed, as well as certain so to say “philanthropists” such as notorious George Soros.
The most outrageous is the fact that young people become the principal target of such manipulations. There are cynical attempts to steer towards negativism and destruction such qualities, inherent in the young people, as flatness of judgement and conduct, search for truth and justice. In his time, Dostoyevsky warned us against such development of the Russian and world history in his far-seeing novel “The Possessed”. By now, these processes have gained unprecedented intensity and scope.
Not only the present and the future, but also the past becomes the field of an increasingly severe fight for the minds. It is a matter of trying to erase or to substitute the historical memory of countries and peoples. Lately, Russia faces growing efforts to downgrade the role of our country in the victory over nazism. Appeals that the USSR should share responsibility with Germany for the unleashing of the Second World War cannot but bewilder. Especially when they come from representatives of the countries, who were Nazi accomplices. And if someone is anxious about the “Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact”, we shouldn’t forget about the treacherous division of Czechoslovakia, preceding the Pact. Our country lost in that war no less than 26 million (!) people. And we won’t let anybody insult their memory. No one is forgotten, and nothing is forgotten!
Our fathers and grandfathers were dying in the battlefields of a real war, our sons and grandsons become involuntary participants in “hybrid” conflicts. Such conflicts are certainly less bloody, but their consequences are no less atrocious, as they kill not only the body, but also the soul. The international campaign of drugs consumption propaganda, which is gaining momentum, is highly alarming. On the United Nations platform “drug liberals”, headed by Canada, are going along the way of erosion of the global drug control regime. The Western scientific community and media actually advertise the use of cannabis and LSD as - just think of it! - an “effective means to boost self-esteem, to treat alcohol addiction and depression”. Various programs promoting the rights of LGBT community and spreading the ideas of radical feminism are implemented in order to accelerate the process of diluting the notion of sex identity, the values of family and marriage. Hence it is not far from an open declaration of the necessity “to moderate” human nature, for example, with the help of artificial intelligence technologies or gene therapy. In fact, the trend is to transform people into isolated individuals with a constantly altered state of consciousness, suffering from neurotic disorders. It is clear that such individuals are ideal objects for manipulation, especially when they have networked “iPhones” in their hands.
A society, treated in such a way, is a perfect target for so-called coloured revolutions. During them the “hybrid” methods of influencing the opponent develop up to their maximum. To our regret, we have more than once witnessed the way all this is put into practice. On the territory of a country, chosen for the role of the victim, different network structures are created or developed - they can be public, artistic, scientific, religious, nationalistic, you name it. The most important is that they should have horizontal organization and retain significant independence from the state.
They are assigned the task of gathering data on actual and “smouldering” conflicts, contradictions between clans, acute social and economic problems. In parallel this network is used to impact the situation in the country and, if necessary, to start destructive processes. Meanwhile, any event can serve as a trigger: disruption of a peaceful demonstration, as in Libya and Syria, death of an “ordinary person” from the crowd, as in Greece and Tunisia, electoral “machinations”, as in Georgia and Ukraine.
At a proper moment the protest waves spreading through the network get synchronized. The old political system collapses under the burden of multiple challenges, and the new force is brought to power. The same controlled channels are used to implant a new model of conduct into the public conscience. All this is accompanied by a wide-scale propaganda campaign in the world media, intended to convince the population of the lack of an alternative to the current course of events, and also to justify possible foreign interference in case it becomes necessary. One of the most illustrative examples of the realization of such a scenario can be seen in Venezuela.
In fact, the issue consists in working out a universal algorithm for conducting covert actions of influence in continuous mode and on global scale. This subversive activity never stops, it is aimed not only at enemies, but also at friends and neutral forces, it is performed under conditions of peace, crisis and war. It could be effectively compared with an activity of a virus: it can be destroying a human organism for decades without manifesting itself, and when it is discovered, very often it is too late to struggle.
Speaking of “hybrid” threats we cannot avoid mentioning such sphere as cyberspace. It is rapidly becoming a source of serious challenges to national security. Cyberspace has already turned into self-sufficient operational environment. It has got its own virtual economy, cryptocurrencies, special society represented by social networkers, and criminal «underground». The world is on the threshold of a real «digital revolution». It will not only provide sources of continuing growth for the global economy, but it may also fundamentally transform the planetary balance of geopolitical forces.
Meanwhile, any prospect of alignment of international legal standards of cooperation in this field is not yet visible. The main reason is that our Western partners seem to consider the cyberspace not as an area of cooperation, but as another scene of struggle against their geopolitical rivals - Russia, China, major regional powers. The new US cyberstrategy envisages the possibility of carrying out preventive cyberattacks. «The Paris appeal for trust and security in the cyberspace», presented last November during the Internet Governance Forum, also contains the idea about admissibility of interstate conflicts in the digital environment. Perhaps someone thinks that the cyberspace is an ideal battleground for «hybrid» wars. Using cybermethods one can destroy the infrastructures of entire nations, without spilling a drop of one’s own blood. However, consequences of hostilities in this new, still unregulated by the international - community area can be unforeseen and extremely destructive, for the attackers themselves as well.
Another tool of «hybrid» war for global dominance is - however monstrous it may sound - the international terrorism. Unfortunately, we know examples, when, under the pretext of fighting this evil, direct, sometimes military, foreign interference into the domestic policy of sovereign states takes place. Selective accusations of terrorism support are a favorite pretext to organize international pressure on regimes that are «out of favor». No less irresponsible are attempts to divide terrorists into «bad» and «good», in other words into friends and foes, while manipulating both of them.
Something like that is now taking place in the Near and Middle East. So-called democrats have plunged Libya into anarchy and chaos. Now many in the West repent for what they have done, facing the flow of migrants from the former Jamahiriya. Billions of dollars were spent to support armed opposition groups in Syria, but the Western countries never succeeded in distinguishing «moderate» formations from «Jabhat al-Nusra» terrorists. Now these same extremists, trying to escape from the strikes of Syrian government forces, are beginning to flood European cities.
I would like to make a special emphasis on the fact that in the modern interrelated world it is mortally dangerous to flirt with terrorism. One may possibly expect that after abandoning the project of establishing a «Caliphat» in Syria and Iraq, the jihadist front would move somewhere farther from Europe, to Afghanistan or Central Asia, in particular. Especially if these estimations are corroborated by direct actions, for instance transfer of militants. Only let us not forget the example of Afghanistan, which has clearly shown that controllability of terrorist groups is relative, in the end, all the same, they go out of control and turn to be a threat to those countries that earlier supported them!
Maybe, the most dangerous thing in the present situation is the fact that the «hybrid» confrontation starts to corrode the very system of international relations that formed after the Second World War and served peace and stability for a long time on the planetary scale. We observe with concern our Western partners led by the USA gradually rejecting basic rules and multilateral modes even in such important questions of strategic stability as arms and WMD control. They interpret the international law at their own will, carrying out military attacks against the territory of sovereign states, killing tens and hundreds of thousands of civilians. But then, the notion of law itself was turned into mockery after the British introduced into legal practice the “highly likely” expression, which other Western countries considered sufficient for mass expulsions of Russian diplomats (and faced a mirror response).
In this context, many regional powers are taking a more aggressive stance. As a result, we see a chain reaction, the collective mechanisms for challenge response are getting further eroded. Weighed decision-making is being replaced with impulsiveness, self-interest approaches are taking the upper hand. There is an increasing risk of so- called accidental conflicts, breaking out because of unilateral and spontaneous actions of single players and being difficult to calculate.
Distinguished participants of the conference!
In the foreseeable future, the line between states of war and peace, between civil and inter-state confrontation will continue to erode. Broad masses of people all over the world will be dragged into conflicts of different scale. The “hybrid” war is threatening to become a part of everyday life, to be considered as “normality”. This will undermine the very concept of deterrence, fundamental for the present system of global and regional security. As a result, even a small provocation might be enough to escalate tension up to an uncontrollable phase and trigger a global crisis. All international community players, while planning their foreign policy, should take into consideration the possibility of such developments to prevent the world from sinking into ultimate chaos.
Russia, the country that went through two disastrous wars in the past century - far from “hybrid” ones - tirelessly calls upon other international community players to overcome their self-interest ambitions and to resist the temptation of using “hybrid” warfare for geopolitical aims. It is now essential not to play “hybrid” games, competing who succeeds more in this process, but to engage in a dialogue over the ways of jointly reforming the global world order. Only the final drawing-up of multipolar architecture, based on equitable cooperation among various loci of power and integration groupings, will provide prosperity and security for all people. Only within “grater spaces”, such as “Big Eurasia”, “unified Europe”, or, for instance, the Latin American civilization, independent progressive development of single, even small, countries can be guaranteed, free from the devastating impact of “hybrid” threats.
If the so-called “Collective West” lacks maturity and courage to get on the right side of history and follow that direction, the rest of the countries and peoples will have to design the global future without it. Russia is ready to take responsibility for this process. Together with our allies and friends in EAEU, CIS, CSTO, SCO, BRIKS, we will follow the way of enhancing collective security both in Eurasia and globally. I’m sure, the adequate forces in the Western countries, who recognize the risks facing the international community and are ultimately concerned about self-preservation will be increasingly boosting up their involvement.