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Point of View: Russia’s Biggest Threat Is Its Instability

Posted: 27th January 2022
By: JOHN WETZEL
Point of View: Russia’s Biggest Threat Is Its Instability

Editor's note: This post is an excerpt, to read the full report click here

Executive Summary

  • Due to domestic concerns over the last 2 years, as well as perceived external threats, The Kremlin likely seeks to deflect attention away from these troubles by employing state-sponsored cyber assets, military pressure, and allied governments who can be brought to bear on targets of strategic interest to Russia. This serves the dual purpose of also signaling to NATO nations that Russia is unwilling to accept the further encroachment of NATO nations on its borders, especially Ukraine and Georgia.
  • The false flag defacement attacks on Ukrainian websites were tied to Belarusian entities but with benefits to Russian strategic objectives.
  • The Kremlin remains a dangerous source of global geo-cyber instability precisely because of its willingness, at times, to deviate from formal doctrine to improvisation when engaging in direct military action—Russia has accelerated the weaponization of confusion and provocation to create a multi-state standoff centered around Ukraine, to thwart NATO expansionary pressures. 

Russia Accelerates Aggression Towards Ukraine

The Kremlin is a complex actor within both the geopolitical and cyber domains. Since the 2014 Maidan revolution which led to the fall of the Ukrainian government of Victor Yanukovych and resulted in the Russian military invasion of Crimea, Russia has accelerated military force, influence operations, and cyber capabilities towards Ukraine. Yet rather than directly engage in military invasion, Russia has leveraged elements of “active measures”–subterfuge, indirect action, and cyber campaigns–complicating analysis and clouding insight. In this article, we explore and clarify the last few weeks of activity within Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, looking at three domains: diplomatic and military actions, cyber offensive actions, and traditional espionage. 

Editor's note: This post is an excerpt, to read the full report click here