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Fear, Honor, Interest: An Analysis of Russia's Operations in the Near Abroad (2007-2014)

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Technical Report,01 Jun 2014,21 May 2015

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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In recent years, Russia has conducted several operations in former Soviet states, attempting to halt NATO expansion and protecting ethnic Russian minorities in those states. Western analyses have focused either on traditional military means in these operations or on novelties in the cyber domain, but rarely have they used these approaches with others. They focused especially on what lessons Russia learned from them to reform their armed services. This is a very narrow analysis, based on Western assumptions on the Russian way of war. Instead, Russia has created a new operational concept, which it refers to as the fifth period of operational art, especially designed for its near-abroad policy. This new operational concept uses traditional domains with military means, non-traditional domains such as the human, information, and cyber domain, and non-military means such as cyber proxy forces linked to the social conditions of Russians living as minorities outside Russia. This monograph reviews the changes, their background, and practical application, together with their links to the social conditions of ethnic Russian minorities in former Soviet states. First, it describes the history of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fate of the 25 million displaced ethnic Russians, their marginalization, regional tensions, and the strategy that Russia has developed to protect these ethnic Russians and its interests in the near abroad. Next, this monograph reviews the theory on the fifth period of operational art and creates an operational framework based on the theory and case studies of the 2007 Estonia crisis, 2008 Georgia war, and 2014 Ukraine conflict. Finally, it reveals how this framework uses non-military means linked to social conditions.

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