Russia on the Information War

Pavel Salin is director of the Center for Political Studies at the Financial University under the Russian Government.  This is translated from Russia, and gives their perspective on the information war they are still waging on many countries including the US.


Pavel Salin: Russia has dealt a serious blow to the image of the United States
Information details about Russia and how to properly respond to the expansion of the NATO bloc were given by Pavel Salin, director of the Center for Political Studies at the Financial University.

– Today we are talking about the West’s growing information war versus Russia. Do you agree with this and can you name the date of the beginning of this war?

– Yes, I think that the whole statement is correct. And it all began in 2014, after the Crimea joined Russia. Because the General Staff of the West identifies itself primarily with NATO, that is, a Western military machine with which the Russian military machine has to deal.

It so happened that not even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and after the collapse of the Warsaw Treaty Organization, the NATO bloc actually lost the meaning of its existence. At one time they united against the Soviet threat, and now, when there is no Soviet bloc, the question arises, why NATO is needed.

All the 1990s, he was “hanging” in the air, in the zero years the North Atlantic alliance tried to find new impulses in the fight against terrorism, but it did not work out. NATO operations to eliminate terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan have practically failed, and from the beginning of 2010 an urgent issue has arisen again.

And then, in 2014, the Crimea joined Russia, which was a serious slap in the face to the West, and NATO again gained the meaning of its existence. Now they are a bloc that guarantees protection against potential “Russian aggression” to its members, in particular, the Baltic countries and potential partners. That is, Russia by its actions has given NATO the meaning of existence.

As for the information war, it is clear that now the new era is information, and the theater of military operations is moving more and more into virtual space.

Now opponents are not measured in who has more “hardware”, but in who can take what measures in the information space. Naturally, if a “hot” war is an irreversible event, then an information war can be carried out with much less risks. And if psychological barriers to us in order to unleash a “hot” war are high enough for us, then in information wars this level is much lower.

Therefore, military events in the information space are already being implemented, and the West, naturally, is trying to increase its efforts in this direction – for one simple reason: it is possible to request additional budgets for this. Consequently, the more frightening is the “aggression” of Russia, the more money you can ask to fight it. In fact, this fits into the usual business logic of the Western military-industrial complex.

– But it is quite natural that such acts of information aggression can cause real actions of the country, which they attack, that is, they are the first step in a “hot” war?

– Theoretically, yes. Here the question arises about the boundary, where information actions are converted into real ones. Hypothetically, this can happen, because usually the parties do not understand exactly where this boundary lies in the information war, and they try to find it by experience.

– What is your opinion on the situation of “clanking arms” in the Korean peninsula?

– This is also a consequence of the annexation of the Crimea to Russia. It’s just that the US is well aware that the global center of influence, which has been in the North Atlantic region for 300 years, is now moving to the Asia-Pacific region and there it is necessary to expand its sphere of influence.

And for this it is necessary to have allies. However, allies are only strong, so you need to demonstrate your strength. When the creation of the pro-American anti-China alliance began, Obama in May 2014 went on a regular tour of the region to communicate with potential allies on this alliance. He promised that in the event of a confrontation with China, the US will guarantee to all its allies on this alliance help.

And they answered it: “You also guaranteed assistance to Ukraine, but it lost the Crimea.” So it can be said that Russia’s annexation of the Crimea dealt a serious blow to the United States. And now they need to restore the image of the world superpower. And since the center of influence is shifting, they need to demonstrate their power not somewhere, relatively speaking, in the Donbas, or even in the Middle East – in Syria, namely in the Asia-Pacific region.

North Korea is just another test for the demonstration of force, because the current allies of the United States, and this, first of all, South Korea and Japan, are afraid of it. If the states manage to make North Korea fulfill the conditions that are imposed on it, it will give them a big bonus in the formation of the Chinese alliance.

– How can you assess the situation with the appearance of destroyers of London in the Black Sea?

– I think this is definitely a demonstration of the flag. In the West, there are fears that Russia is trying, if not all of the Black Sea, then at least its northern part to make its own inland sea after the annexation of the Crimea.

And NATO demonstrates that this will not happen, that they have military potential not only in the southern part of the Black Sea, where Turkey (which, by the way, is now pursuing a stronger independent policy), but also in the northern part of the Black Sea region.

– Having gained the meaning of their existence, NATO has intensified in the Arctic, the Baltic, the Balkans and Norway.

– Yes, they played on fear of Russia and managed to get new budgets, that is, everything is chocolate for NATO. It turns out that the actions of Russia just the ambitions of NATO generals play a very serious role.

– How should Russia act in this case in order to save the face, but do not encourage NATO to expand? Is there such a scenario?

– There is such a scenario, but it does not lie in the sphere of military response. Now in the Russian information space, the topics related to the threat of NATO are being promoted by circles related to the military-industrial complex.

And they just aspire for additional budgets, that is, the interests of the Western and Russian defense industries practically coincide here: it is necessary to create the most threatening image of the enemy and receive additional budgets for this. However, Russia can not be drawn into the arms race in any case – our economy will not survive.

When there was an arms race in Soviet times, it was completely different: the other economic potential of the Soviet Union, many allies, that is, approximately the Western and Soviet bloc were roughly equivalent. Now, from an economic point of view, Russia is in a more vulnerable position, so we need to look for opportunities for asymmetric responses.

Our country is trying to find some answers in the political space, supporting the political forces, which, in its opinion, do not fit into the traditional Western elites, for example, politicians-“populists” in Europe, not quite successfully. However, the vector is chosen perfectly correct.

– So we are going in the right direction?

– Apparently, until the decision on additional strong build-up of military capacities is adopted, and after 2020 the military-industrial complex and the program of rearmament of very large money will not be invested.

The Russian authorities are looking for some options for asymmetric answers, but so far their attempts are rather unsuccessful. That is, the direction vector is chosen the right one, but the specific steps are apparently needed by others. Here it is necessary to somehow experiment.


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