On February 24, 2022, Moscow launched a “special operation” to achieve its goals in Ukraine in a short period of time and has been fighting for more than 300 days. The nature and geography of this war have changed over time. Economic sanctions, the use of soft power, intelligence and especially information struggles have transformed the war into a hybrid war. Information sharing between the intelligence services of other regional powers and superpowers, aid to the Kiev regime and sanctions targeting Moscow have turned the Ukraine War into a proxy war.
As is well known, one of the leading figures of the Hybrid war strategy is the Chief of General Staff of Russia Valery Gerasimov. According to the Gerasimov Doctrine, in the 21st century, the boundaries between war and peace have disappeared or become blurred. Gerasimov also stated that in this doctrine, wars will be fought without officially declaring war and will go beyond the usual conventional war structure. In addition, Russia’s Chief of the General Staff emphasized that the new wars will be information wars; conflicts will also occur in the economic, political and cyber spheres.
Indeed, the war in Ukraine embodies this awe. It can even be said that Russia has achieved success in Syria, Georgia and Crimea by utilizing this doctrine. However, at this point in the Russia-Ukraine War, this doctrine is not helping the Kremlin to achieve its goals. On the contrary, Russia is failing on the ground. Therefore, Gerasimov’s meeting with foreign military attachés on December 22, 2022 is very important.i
At this meeting, the Chief of the General Staff of Russia spoke about the stabilization of the situation on the contact line, the consequences of attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure and the actions of Russian aviation. The issue of Western countries supplying arms and equipment to Kiev was also discussed. Gerasimov said that the “special operation” will continue until all the goals set by Russian President Vladimir Putin are achieved.ii
On the other hand, Moscow accused Kiev of “using terrorist methods” and “resorting to the tactics of nuclear terrorism by bombing the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant”. At the same time, it was emphasized that the Kinzhal hypersonic system, which was used for the first time in combat conditions, showed “high efficiency and invulnerability compared to the air defense systems deployed in Ukraine”. Seeking to create the impression that things were going well, Gerasimov stated that Russian operational-tactical and military aviation flew about 150 sorties a day and destroyed more than 11,000 Ukrainian weapons and equipment.iii
In addition to mentioning that war in Ukraine, which they call “special operations”, turned into hybrid and proxy warfare, Gerasimov also included foreign aid in his speech. He stated that the United States (US) and its allies provided military aid to Ukraine “to prolong the conflict”, adding that the financial aid to Kiev amounted to approximately $100 billion.iv According to the Chief of the Russian General Staff, since the beginning of the operation, the West has sent more than 350 tanks, about 1,000 armored combat vehicles, some 700 artillery systems, 100 multiple rocket launchers, more than 5,300 portable air defense systems and 130,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine. Western countries have also supplied Ukraine with 4 airplanes and more than 30 helicopters, as well as at least 5,000 drones.
On the other hand, Gerasimov accused the USA and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) of using these states as a tool to achieve their own interests in a way that would harm the security of European countries. According to him, these actions, on the one hand, increase tensions along the line of contact with Russia and, on the other hand, reduce the level of security.In this context, Gerasimov stated that “NATO is trying to expand its influence beyond the Euro-Atlantic region.”v It is already known that one of the main reasons for Russia’s declaration of war on Ukraine was NATO’s expansion towards Russia’s borders. Considering that it is besieged through the Black Sea geopolitics, the Moscow administration saw the war in Ukraine as a necessity to overcome the siege.
Moreover, Gerasimov also drew attention to Karabakh-centered developments. In this context, Russia’s Chief of General Staff said, “The West is trying to strengthen its influence in the South Caucasus by making a fictitious preparation to solve the Karabakh conflict.”vi
Another issue raised by Gerasimov was statements about China, such as the demand for a multipolar world against the United States. The Chief of the General Staff of Russia stated that the United States is trying to destabilize the situation in the Asia-Pacific region by taking provocative steps against China in support of Taiwan’s independence. In this context, Gerasimov stated that the cooperation between Russia and China against the USA is a natural reaction.vii
Gerasimov also talked about future military exercises. In this context, the Chief of the Russian General Staff announced that the “West-2023” and the joint “Unity Shield-2023” exercises with Belarus will be held and that these exercises will be held with the participation of allied troops.viii
The last issue that will be revealing about foreign policy and future moves is alliance relations. In this context, Gerasimov stated that the Ministry of Defense wishes to develop partnership and alliance relations with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries and will continue to interact with the military units of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) states.ix
i ‘Продолжение СВО и западная помощь Киеву.’, TASS, https://tass.ru/armiya-i-opk/16665549, (Date of Accession: 23.12.2022).