Russian Political War: moving beyond the hybrid


In Russian Political War: moving beyond the hybrid from Routledge (2019), I address what I think we should be talking about instead of ‘hybrid war’ (let alone the mythical ‘Gerasimov Doctrine‘). It builds off my earlier report, Hybrid War or Gibridnaya Voina? to argue that while the Russian military – like everyone else – is looking at the opportunities in non-kinetic means to prepare the battlefield (after all, has any war not been ‘hybrid’?), the real challenge the West faces is different. The current campaign being waged against the West is not a preparation for eventual military conflict, but rather a wholly non-military campaign that echoes ‘political war’ as described by George Kennan at the start of the Cold War, and which has its spiritual home and command and control centre within the Presidential Administration and Russia’s civilian national security elites.

It’s available as both a hardback and an e-book.

Here’s the book cover blurb:

This book cuts through the misunderstandings about Russia’s geopolitical challenge to the West, presenting this not as ‘hybrid war’ but ‘political war.’

Russia seeks to antagonise: its diplomats castigate Western ‘Russophobia’ and cultivate populist sentiment abroad, while its media sells Russia as a peaceable neighbour and a bastion of traditional social values. Its spies snoop, and even kill, and its hackers and trolls mount a 24/7 onslaught on Western systems and discourses. This is generally characterised as ‘hybrid war,’ but this is a misunderstanding of Russian strategy.

Drawing extensively not just on their writings but also decades of interactions with Russian military, security and government officials, this study demonstrates that the Kremlin has updated traditional forms of non-military ‘political war’ for the modern world. Aware that the West, if united, is vastly richer and stronger, Putin is seeking to divide, and distract, in the hope it will either accept his claim to Russia’s great-power status – or at least be unable to prevent him. In the process, Russia may be foreshadowing how the very nature of war is changing: political war may be the future.


[Russian Political War] “offers an expert overview of Russia’s ongoing non-kinetic assault on Western institutions…In Russian Political War, Galeotti provides a clear and cogent analysis of the “political war” Russia has been waging against the West…Galeotti’s description of the Russian arsenal for political war is both accurate and comprehensive.”

Mitchell A Orenstein, The Russians Are Coming


Here is the video of a presentation I gave at the Royal United Services Institute on 20 February 2019:

Foreign Editions

Lithuanian: Briedis (2021)

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