Russia’s Ultimate Weapon Might Be Cyber

    Scott Jasper

    Security, Europe

    And the reasons are obvious. 

    A recent report prepared for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unveiled President Putin’s motivations for an Asymmetric Assault on Democracy in Russian and Europe. His asymmetric use of covert means for political ends became evident in Ukraine. Cyber operations employed together with information operations across conventional, economic and political sectors have created a societal siege mentality for Ukrainians. Yet Kremlin interference also threatens the peace and stability of the United States and Europe. Given the potential impact of cyber operations on the international community, are their use by Russia rational or irresponsible?

    The term “rational” denotes behavior appropriate to specified goals in the context of a given situation. The primary Russian goal is restoring its position as an independent Great Power through every possible means. In an energy dependent economy constrained by Western sanctions and low oil prices, cyber operations are not a significant burden viewed in macroeconomic terms. They are asymmetric weapons in the Russian arsenal that may achieve political utility through the capability to covertly alter an adversary’s policy. Putin seeks to undermine the democracies on his country’s periphery in states that attempt integration with the European Union and NATO. A series of cyber incidents align closely with this geostrategic objective and current Russian doctrine.

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