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NATO and EU: tackling hybrid warfare together?

In response to the conflict in Ukraine, NATO has decided to take on an ambitious task: developing a set of tools to deter and defend against adversaries waging hybrid warfare. One expert believes that the best way that the Alliance can counter this irregular threat is to team-up with other international organisations, particularly with the EU. NATO Review asked Peter Pindják for ‘why two is better than one’ and why together with the EU, NATO’s strategic partner, the hybrid warfare could be deterred from.

Last week we looked at ‘why perception is different to reality’. When Russia’s annexation of the Crimea took place in March this year, I remember having discussions with friends and colleagues over what was happening. ‘Putin’s a master strategist’, said one. ‘He is an expert at judo, which relies on using your opponent’s force against him’, said another. The descriptions went on – he’s a chess champion, former KGB agent, etc.

I was unconvinced by any of these descriptions. It seemed to me that Putin had created a monster he couldn’t control. I felt the ultimate proof was when Malaysian airliner MH17 was shot down. Whatever playbook Putin was using, this was an act which appalled everyone. And an act which still may lead back to his door, as it involved the kind of equipment the rebels simply couldn’t have possessed without Russian help.

It was with this in mind that I asked Ukrainian expert Alexander Motyl whether Putin had lost control of the situation he helped create. And in the interview we’re publishing today, Motyl sets out three areas where Putin is actually in a weaker position in Ukraine than he was at the start of the year.

If Putin really is a master strategist, then his strategies don’t hold much logic. What were the benefits of interfering in a country that was highly divided and had a puppet administration? Now, Ukrainian solidarity is arguably the highest it’s ever been and a pro-Western government has been elected. Some strategy. Some strategist.

Paul King

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