Thursday, July 30, 2015

West Responding to Russia’s Hybrid War in Ukraine with a Hybrid One of Its Own, Alpin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 30 – Many view Kyiv’s grant of special constitutional status to Donetsk and Luhansk as a concession to Vladimir Putin because of the weakness of the West as far as Ukraine is concerned, but this is a mistake and underestimates the West’s approach to conflicts, according to Sergey Alpin, the creator of the Germany-based Marshal Plan for Ukraine initiative.

            In a commentary on Kyiv’s “Novoye vremya” portal, Alpin says that this strategy has been agreed to by Ukraine and “indirectly or directly” with Russia as well and constitutes nothing less than the launch by the West of “a hybrid war” against the Kremlin (

            The Germany-based activist says that “this strategy doesn’t please” him because it means that “all efforts will be directed in order that the conflict in the east of Ukraine will remain local but will not fade away altogether.”  Such a strategy is intended to wear down and discredit Russia, but it inevitably involves more Ukrainian losses.

            The reason the West has chosen this strategy is clear, Alpin continues. Russia’s current “adrenalin rush” isn’t going to dissipate immediately; and there is thus a very real danger that if the Ukrainian armed forces were to be strengthened by the West enough to win a round quickly, Russia would escalate either in Ukraine itself or against the Baltic countries.

            Consequently, he argues, “however disgusting this may sound, the prolongation of the conflict in the east of Ukraine works to the benefit of the West” which “hopes to wear down the Kremlin in Ukraine primarily ideologically rather than by military means.”

            This is a strategy the West has employed against Al Qaeda and Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi in the past, he says. It consists in the following steps: “first devalue the ideology of the recalcitrant sparring partner, and then to consider whether there is a need for direction actions of the West itself.”

            The West’s economic sanctions against Moscow “are a means of limiting the instruments of its influence, weakening its army, and depriving the Russian Federation of the ability to build modern weapons systems.” The, the tightening of the West’s actions has been gradual, starting with sanctions and now involving much more, including a tribunal on the Malaysian airliner.

            One could call this, Alpin suggests, “the hybrid war of the West against the Kremlin.”

            Given that heroic Ukrainian soldiers are going to suffer as a result of this approach, it would be more honest if Kyiv would acknowledge that this is what is going on: it certainly understands, Alpin says. And everyone should recognize as well that this Western strategy suits the Kremlin as well.

            Moscow isn’t going to go to war with the West: “Putin knows that his country is weaker and hopelessly backward technologically … But for a very long time, he will be able to ‘sell’ the idea inside Russia that he is engaged in a victorious campaign against the US and Europe,” and so he will have little incentive to change things dramatically, Alpin argues.
            The West’s strategy regarding Russian aggression in Ukraine is nothing new, he continues. “It was not long ago applied against Al Qaeda,” first undermining the myth of that organization and then removing its leader from the scene. Had it done things in the reverse order, it might have provoked an explosion.
            And such a strategy is also being employed by the UN Coalition Against ISIS: “it is trying to localize the Islamic state but not trying to destroy it completely now when the ideology [of ISIS] is on the rise.”  That too, the analyst suggests, might prove counter-productive.
            According to Alpin, “the existence of this strategy of the West is indirectly confirmed by the fact that in recent weeks, the US has taken from Europe or more precisely from Germany the leading roll on issues of lobbying for financial support of Ukraine, thus giving Europe the opportunity to focus on Greece and political containment of Russia.”

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