Viewing the poisoning of Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny with a Novichoknerve agent through the prism of hybrid war suggests that the methods and mindset of hybrid war are now possibly infecting Russian domestic politics. In this Hybrid CoE Paper Mark Galeotti brings forth that there must be a constant awareness that the Kremlin will see Western responses to the Navalny poisoning as foreign ‘hybrid war’ and will respond in kind.
Likewise, the more the West defends Navalny, the more the Kremlin will use that as ‘proof’ he is nothing less than an agent of subversion. This is not a reason to do nothing. Rather, any planning of measures to influence Russia should be ensured to takes place in parallel with consideration as to how to deter or minimise any reaction. The logic of hybrid war, after all, is that every move – real or perceived – has to have a counter-move.
The paper helps explain the stridency of Moscow’s reaction to Western criticisms, as well as its nature and it provides insights into how the West can respond, and the inevitable backlash that will follow.