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Center for Strategic International Studies | 10Mar2015 | Phillip Karber
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Russia's Hybrid War
Published on 10 Mar 2015
The CSIS Russia and Eurasia
Program is pleased to invite you to a discussion with Dr. Phillip
Karber, President of the Potomac Foundation, a defense and foreign
policy think-tank. Dr. Karber, who is also a former DOD official and
veteran defense analyst, will discuss Russia's "hybrid warfare"
campaign in eastern Ukraine. Dr. Karber has traveled repeatedly to
eastern Ukraine during the present conflict, and has spoken first-hand
with a number of the participants. Dr. Karber will draw on these
discussions to elaborate on the techniques of Russian hybrid warfare,
evaluate their effectiveness, and explore their implications for both
Ukraine and the West.
CSIS Senior Associate, Russia & Eurasia Program
Dr. Phillip Karber
President of the Potomac Foundation
[00:00 -- 05:20] --
Paul Schwartz: Introduction to "Russian Forum"; to Russia's Hybrid War
in Crimea and Donbas; to Dr. Phillip Karber, President of the Potomac
Foundation -- 12 separate fact-finding missions to Ukraine.
[05:21 -- 11:40] -- Phillip Karber: "Ukraine Request for
Potomac Assessment" by Andriy Volodymyrovych Parubiy; flew to Kyiv with
General Wesley Clark within 72 hours; General Valery Gerasimov's
"Russian view of Hybrid War";
[11:41 -- 14:18] -- 4 elements of hybrid warfare: Political Subversion;
Proxy Sanctum, Intervention, Coercive Deterrence.
[14:19 -- 17:52] -- Phase 1: March Protests & Russian "Agiprop"
Campaign; Separatists & Russian Volunteer Terrorism --
Stalinist repression is settling in.
[17:53 -- 21:39] -- Phase 2: April Seizure Campaign with Russian "Spetsnaz";
mobilized Russian army at eastern border, but because Ukraine
surprisingly managed to transfer 11 brigades into
eastern Ukraine, Russian generals advised Putin not to start full-scale
invasion. Putin decided on Plan B, that is, the hybrid campaign. Karber
was in Slovyansk when Russians occupied government building and the
Ukrainian were discussing about taking it back. Orders came from Kyiv
(who had talked to Washington and Western Europe) not to do anything
provocative. Thus, one seizure became more and more.
[21:40 -- 29:18] -- Phase 3: May Insurgency Campaign with Russian
"Volunteers"; every town center was now contolled by separatists. Local
policemen were assassinated or intimidated. (Probably, one-third of
police were pro-separatist.) Girkin & Pushilin. Macho
nationalists on both sides.
Novorossiya as a Stategic Objective.
[29:17 -- 32:36] -- Strategy of State Sponsored Terrorism; March
emphasis on protest; April seizure of government buildings -- terror,
murder; May infrastructure damage, Russian equipment; June Russian
tanks crossing border, "Russian Mobilization Order" on 27Jun2014
[32:37 -- 36:56] -- Prelude to a Ceasefire (24 May to 5 Sep. 2014);
Poroshenko tried to launch a ceasefire, sent in 4 brigades to try to
establish control of border (450 km drive by Zombrowsky of 95 Brigade).
Mid July 2014 Russians started cross-border fire of artillery. Western
leaders told Ukrainians not to fire back. On 24Aug2014 (Kyiv parade on
Independence Day) Russians initiated the Ilovaisk cauldron. Resulted in
Minsk-1 ceasefire of 05Sep2014.
[36:57 -- 46:40] -- Russian Security Problematique; have 4 military
districts Eastern, Centreal, Western, Southern. Wanted all volunteer
(contract) army, but didn't get enough volunteers. Created battalion
technical groups. Lessons of Asymmetric War in Chechnya &
Georgia. -- mixture of conscripts, mercenaries and Russian volunteers.
Take one battalion from brigade and send it to front -- rather
hodge-podge. Russian Humanitarian Convoys replenish armaments.
Debaltseve was a major rail and highway hub. From 30Oct2014 to
09Dec2015, Russian Heavy Weapons to Donbas Proxies = 890;
US/NATO Heavy Weapons to Ukraine = 0.
[46:41 -- 57:50] -- Value of UAV Drones in Monitoring Ceasefire;
Russian military installations are always sequestered amongst civilian
buildings. Russians have six winter objectives and have already secured
the Donetsk Airport and Debaltseve. Potential for major Russian
incursion come spring.
[57:51 -- 01:05:14] -- "Why do Ukrainians keep getting into the
situation -- they put up a really good defence, then get into a pocket,
and then get destroyed?" Explanation: Ukraine doesn't have anti-tank
guided missiles, the tanks outflank the Ukrainian strong points and
close the pocket. (The Ukrainians can't stop the tanks.) Americans
simply refuse to give (or sell) Ukraine anti-tank missiles. (Javelin)
[01:03:27 -- 01:05:14] -- Slide: "Ukraine's Failed Ceasefire, 2,801
Attacks on Ukrainian Forces, (5 Sep. 2014 thru 8 Feb. 2015) -- chart of
Minsk-2 will Fail unless ENFORCEMENT added
Ukraine is the only country that can ENFORCE Ceasefire
- UAV, ATGM, Counter-Btry Radar, Covering Force, & Secure C3
- IF West wants successful Ceasefire must supply those ASSETS
350 OSCE personnel is absolutely useless -- you couldn't monitor the
area with 3,500 people.
[01:05:15 -- 01:06:38] -- Slide: Problems of Monitoring a Ceasefire
Pulling back heavy artillery 50 to 70 km is stupid, because if Russia
attacks then there is only infantry to oppose them in that zone. (They
will be overrun within 4 hours.)
"You could not design a disaster better than the Merkel-Hollande"
[01:06:39 -- 01:09:27] -- Nuclear Lessons; Hybrid Lesson from Ukraine
-- 20 point summary, the last one of which reads as follows:
20. The victim of Hybrid Aggression is also victimized by Western
caution and prevarication. While Russia has introduced thousands of
weapons into the conflict, European and American political hesitation
in helping Ukraine acquire replacements for its losses (and the
political message it sends to others who would like to help) serves as
a virtual military embargo on Ukraine. Ironically, the most successful
Western sanction has been in preventing a frriendly country from
[01:09:28 -- 01:09:28] -- Questions.
Q1: (???) -- They don't want to bring conscripts into Ukraine; prefer
"contract" soldiers. If Ukrainians had anti-tank weapons, they could
probably hold out against 80 Russian battalions. "If we had sent 100
Javelin-2s, I don't think we would have had the Winter Offensive." "We
have a couple of thousand Bradleys sitting out -- with nobody to man
them. I would start sending Bradleys over. ... The longer this goes on,
the tougher it is going to be to help them." The escalation threat is
just an obscene argument -- Russian send in tanks, but giving
Ukrainians anti-tank weapons is escalation; they bring in a thousand
tubes of artillery, but it is escalation if we give Ukrainians long
range counter-battery radar; they have drones flying over like Kennedy
airport, but we can't give Ukraine drones.
[01:17:30] Q2: The nuclear dimension.
Russian Theory ofr Nuclear De-escalation
Stage 1 - Demonstration (unpopulated targets)
Stage 2 - Intimidation-Demonstration (single strikes)
Stage 3 - Intimidation (group strikes to change balance on operational
Stage 4 - Intimidation-Retaliation (strikes across the theater to
"eliminate the threat of defeat")
Stage 5 - Retaliation-Intimidation (massive strikes to annihilate the
enemy in the theater)
Stage 6 - Retaliation (massive theater & strategic strikes)
Karber was told that Putin phoned Poroshenko with a direct nuclear
threat. Russians are developing (and deploying?) tactical nuclear
[01:24:44] -- END