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The Effects of New Technologies on the Russia-Ukraine Asymmetric War

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Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, making a move that will change the agenda, theories and security paradigms of international relations. The Russia-Ukraine War has led to a process that questions both the status quo and traditional conventional warfare. This war is characterized as asymmetric, proxy and hybrid warfare..

Asymmetric warfare because Ukraine is incomparably stronger than Russia in terms of military technology and troops. However, factors such as the global political conjuncture, the support of the international community, success in information warfare and legitimate defense provide Ukraine with serious military, economic and political support. It is even compared to the famous “David and Goliath” characters, giving the message that the weak but righteous will win.

Likewise, the Russian-Ukrainian war has turned into a proxy war with the participation of global and regional actors who provide the aforementioned aid but do not fight on the ground. In fact, if we recall the issues of Ukraine’s membership to the European Union (EU) and the enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), we can talk about a proxy war.

In another aspect, the Russia-Ukraine War stands out as an example of hybrid warfare. One of the most important elements of hybrid warfare is soft power; the peaceful phase of war can be called the application of soft power. Both governments make effective use of information, propaganda and disinformation. In hybrid warfare, tools such as diplomatic or economic pressure, color revolutions, terrorism, cyber attacks and espionage are used together with conventional weapons.

As can be seen from these tools, the most important component is the use of new technologies. Its use in the Ukraine War has been in the form of Elon Musk’s support for internet access through SpaceX and Starlink, storage in cloud data storage services through the use of Tesla Powerwall backup batteries, advanced generators and lithium batteries. According to Mikhail Fedorov, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation, developing technology and personnel in this process can make the country a technological superpower in the future. An example that can prove this is the independent development of the Delta Program, which changes the map of the war zone in real time, by the Ukrainians.[1]

However, another major supporter of asymmetric warfare that gives Ukraine the upper hand in the conflict is the American company Palantir. Because the explosions in Kharkov Oblast in September 2022 took place thanks to American weapons and Palantir’s intelligence information working with the Pentagon.[2] The company has developed MetaConstellation, which helps users find objects in real time. Accordingly, a MetaConstellation user has the ability to request data such as radio signals, infrared light images and aerial photographs from satellites flying over the areas through an artificial intelligence system.[3] This product is capable of targeting and attacking Russian Army positions with rockets, artillery or unmanned aerial vehicles.

In addition, when the data is entered into the system and reports on drone strikes, the program can also calculate the damage done. As we have seen, digital military action, the so-called “battle of the magicians”, is key. This leads to the asymmetric conflict mentioned earlier. Indeed, Mikhail Fedorov said, “Further cooperation with Palantir will help us strengthen our army and defeat the enemy as soon as possible.”[4]

With the help of the same system, Ukrainian troops were able to track where Russian troops were moving and launch attacks with good accuracy. This system was useful in rescue operations near Izyum, Kharkov and Kiev. It also ensured the liberation of the Kherson region.

Contributions by foreign governments and large corporations to change the course of the war are a positive factor due to their deterrent effect. Because when Russia launched a “special military operation” in Ukraine, it did not expect to face so much resistance, losses and cascading problems. Indeed, the Russian-Ukrainian War is reminiscent of both the wars of the future in terms of the military technology used and the bloodiest battles of the past with their long trench fighting.

It can be argued both that Russia will not give up on achieving what can be characterized as a victory in “Putin’s political existential” war and that it will not compromise thanks to diplomatic, economic and military support. This means that the war will be prolonged. Therefore, this asymmetric, hybrid and proxy war will not only be a good test bed for existing technologies, but also a justification for the development of advanced military technologies.


[1] “Украинскую инновационную программу для военных Delta презентовали в НАТО”, ZN.UA, https://zn.ua/technologies/na-zakrytom-meroprijatii-nato-predstavili-ukrainskuju-prohrammu-delta.html, (Date of Accession: 27.12.2022).

[2] “Американская Palantir принимает участие в военных действиях на Украине-СМИ”, D-Russia, https://d-russia.ru/amerikanskaja-palantir-prinimaet-uchastie-v-voennyh-dejstvijah-na-ukraine-smi.html, (Date of Accession: 27.12.2022).

[3] Ibid.

[4] “Американская Palantir Technologies готова открыть офис в Украине и начать совместные разработки с украинскими специалистами”, ITC, https://itc.ua/news/amerikanskaya-palantir-technologies-gotova-otkryt-ofis-v-ukraine-i-nachat-sovmestnye-razrabotki-s-ukrainskimi-speczialistami/, (Date of Accession: 27.12.2022).

Aimoor DANİİAROVA
Aimoor DANİİAROVA
Aimoor Daniiarova, 2014 yılında Kırgızistan - Türkiye Manas Üniversitesi Gazetecilik Bölümünden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini Ankara Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümünde yazdığı "Uluslararası Hukuk Açısından Kırgızistan- Özbekistan Sınır Sorunu" teziyle almıştır. Oş Devlet Üniversitesinde öğretim üyesi olarak çalışmış, halihazırda Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli Üniversitesinde Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümünde doktora eğitimine devam etmektedir. Başlıca ilgi alanları Orta Asya ve Rus dış politikasıdır. İleri düzeyde Rusça, Türkçe ve İngilizce bilmektedir.