Monday, April 20, 2020

Kremlin’s Goal isn’t Territorial Expansion but Weakening of Its Opponents, Kirillova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 19 – It may be incorrect to speak of “a single command center” in Moscow directing Russian actions in neighboring countries or further afield, Kseniya Kirillova says. But it is certainly true the Kremlin has “a single strategy of ‘hybrid conflict,’ which Russia has given preference to compared to ‘classical’ means of conducting war.”

            The US-based Russian journalist tells the Azerbaijani blogger who posts under the name “Wind from Apsheron” that Moscow has been following the so-called Gerasimov doctrine, which the chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov first articulated in February 2013 (

            Gerasimov said and Moscow accepts, Kirillova says, that “the rules of conducting war in our time have changed, and the line between war and peace has been blurred. Consequently, the role of non-military means for achieving political and strategy goals is growing.”  This “new type of conflict” is based on the use of information resources and other means.

            For Moscow, she continues, “playing on ethnic and regional conflicts can pursue various goals: from destabilization to an attempt to bring to power forced under Russian control in order to realize external administration on a ‘distance’ basis by means of politicians loyal to Russia.” 

            It is important to note that “of all the territories” in which Russia has played a role that has contributed to destabilization, it has “officially annexed only Crimea, while with regard to the others, it prefers to preserve the illusion of independence while in fact controlling their puppet governments.”

            At the same time, Kirillova continues, Russia sometimes uses local conflicts and the support of separatist and extremist movements not to set up puppet governments but simply to destabilize the situation” to weaken its targets so that they will not be in a position to counter Moscow’s moves elsewhere.

            That is often the case when Moscow gets involved in the promotion of such extremist trends in major Western powers as in the United States. It wants to weaken and distract the US, not set up any secessionist states.  And it is the case with NATO, EU and other Western alliances as well.

            Almost five years ago, Kirillova says, in September 2015, Belarusian experts described the new strategy of Russia, one directed at destabilization rather than territorial aggrandizement and intended to create conditions in which those who might oppose Moscow would be forced to focus on the problems Moscow has created within them rather than on others.

            “Now, five years later,” she continues, “we see how closely their prediction has corresponded with Moscow’s actions.” In short, the US-based Russian journalist says, Crimea is the exception rather than the rule; and it is quite likely that Moscow won’t repeat it even in the Donbass.

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