Russia popularized the concept of “hybrid warfare” starting with its 2014 annexation of Crimea. But this new form of projecting power actually dates back to the conflict between Russia and Georgia in 2008, when the Kremlin was able to experiment with elements of hybrid warfare and learned basic lessons later applied in Ukraine.
Strategically, the 2008 Georgia conflict took place at a time of declining Russian influence and military power within Eastern Europe, including the Caucasus, which was cut off geographically from the rest of Europe by the Black Sea. The Kremlin faced two main threats – NATO and the EU. The first was military, in that member states of NATO gain the benefit of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty in the event of conflict, which can include immediate response from allies, including several nuclear powers such as the United States, the United Kingdom and France. Facing such a threat, Russia would then assuredly renounce any possible military intervention.
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This EurasiaNet analysis is adapted from a longer version (http://www.macdonaldlaurier.ca/about/welcome-to-mli) that was originally was published by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, based in Ottawa, Canada. Michael Eric Lambert received a Ph.D. in History of Europe and International Relations from Sorbonne University (France). He is Founding Director of the Black Sea Institute and Visegrad Fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague.