Putin’s modern warfare tactics will pose threat to West for years – report

Bob Seely offers the term ‘contemporary Russian conflict’ to describe the covert and overt forms of malign influence used by the Kremlin (Nick Potts/PA) Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s modern warfare strategy will threaten Western stability “for years to come”, a new report has claimed.

The Kremlin’s use of hackers, trolls, paid protesters and misinformation are all part of a “full spectrum” destabilisation strategy, Tory MP Bob Seely’s peer-reviewed report has said.

Mr Seely, who likened the approach to a Russian doll, said at least 50 tools of state power are being used in a bid to interfere abroad.

In his paper, published by the Henry Jackson Society think tank, the Conservative MP offers the term “contemporary Russian conflict” to describe the covert and overt forms of malign influence used by the Kremlin.

It highlights how the Kremlin considers non-military tools to be potentially more powerful than military tools, with instruments such as information warfare, cultural manipulation and social media hacktivism being used to achieve foreign policy goals without the use of direct force.

Mr Seely argues Mr Putin and the security clique around him believe that the Western system, based on the rule of law and universal human rights, is “antithetical to Russia and that the West is an adversary”, with Russia a victim of Western action.

He said: “From fake news aimed at Europe to the propaganda of RT, and from the occupation of Crimea to the streets of Salisbury, Russia is waging a very modern kind of conflict on the West – as well as on the Russian people themselves.

“Putin’s tactics owe much to the ‘active measures’ practised by the KGB during the Cold War, subverting truth to undermine our faith in our institutions. He seeks to demoralise and divide us.

“The coming years will test our resilience in multiple ways. If we are to counter Russian aggression and deter future attacks on us and our allies, understanding Contemporary Russian Conflict is a crucial first step.”

Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, who chairs the Commons foreign affairs committee, added: “Up until now, the West has been without a definition of Russian warfare in all its complexity and sophistication.

“Bob Seely has now provided us with an approach based on common understanding of the threat we face. I will be raising this with the other select committees that are investigating Russian activity in the UK.”