Elements of Russia’s hybrid war are noticed in Latvia, specifically – ideological invasion and financing of political activists, as reported by Latvian Defence Ministry’s parliamentary secretary Andrejs Panteleyevs. He said Latvia has to be prepared to oppose threats posed by hybrid and conventional wars.
«The definition of a hybrid war is still being developed. […] Many of the hybrid war’s arguments are based on the so-called Gerasimov doctrine. Chief of Russia’s General Headquarters Valery Gerasimov had published an article in War Industry Courier in February 2013 in which he claimed that the 21st century may see the dissolution of borders between states of war and peace… Methods for carrying out wars have changed. The role of non-military activities in accomplishing political and strategic goals has increased. Emphasis is put on political, economic, informative, humanitarian and other non-military activities. This especially applies to using the protest potential of local residents. Asymmetrical activities that allow the aggressor to reduce the enemy’s military advantage have become rather common,» – says Panteleyevs.
According to him, elements of a hybrid war are already noticed in Latvia. «I would note two of those elements: ideological invasion, which employs Russian television channels, and hidden or open influence of Russian NGOs, including the financing of certain political parties to destabilize the political situation in Latvia,» – said Latvian Defence Ministry’s parliamentary secretary.
At the same time, Panteleyevs emphasizes that threats of a hybrid war do not cancel the necessity to be prepared to oppose threats of a conventional war.
«Russia can be flexible in its choice of means. While the hybrid war in Ukraine came as a surprise, it would no longer work in Baltic States. I would not like to see an opposite result – we would prepare for a hybrid war so much that a conventional threat, like the invasion of enemy combat helicopters, comes as a surprise. We must not forget about both threats,» – said Panteleyevs.
According to him, upon noticing military exercises in Latvia, specifically military operations aimed at offence, it is clear that Russia has not forgotten about the use of conventional war measures.
When asked what should be done to reduce hybrid war risks, Panteleyevs admitted that it is not a simple question to answer. «Much is already being done. Recently Defence Ministry’s parliamentary secretary has attended a gathering of EU Defence Ministers in Luxembourg. During this gathering, officials discussed the contents of a document aimed to prevent hybrid war threats – starting from information war and ending with energy war.»
«I mean the creation of a special structure to coordinate prevention of hybrid war threats. Counter actions are necessary because certain elements are already seen. Everything starts with identification. It is important to identify NGOs that are not loyal to Latvia’s country and organize training for the event of appearance of ‘little green men’ in the country, clarify the coordination with Interior Affairs Ministry, Defence Ministry and municipalities for crisis situations in the country. There have been special exercises organized in some towns to coordinate cooperation between military and civil structures. The matter regarding information war is very complicated. Defence Ministry does not play the main role there. A bigger problem is that democracy should be able to protect itself without giving betraying its fundamental principles. Is it worth responding with censure and restrictions? It is a matter of debate,» – added the official.