The modern world lives in a state of hybrid warfare, which is waged for hegemony, for resources, and for maintaining control over finance, trade, and technology, on the one hand, and for multipolarity and its own sovereign future, on the other.
In this situation, nuclear deterrence is a supporting factor that humanises the international environment. Today, and this is recognised by our opponents, Russia is in a position to cause irrecoverable damage to them, so the probability of a direct “hot” conflict is unlikely.
The very content of the concept of “war” changes literally before our eyes. The nature of threats is also changing. They can be divided into:
- Information-ideological, socially oriented campaigns;
- Cyber-technological blow to infrastructure;
- Financial-economic and trade sanctions, as well as similar restrictions;
- Terrorist threats and local proxy wars.
The most relevant factor of external influence on Russia today is information-ideological and cyber threats, the purpose of which is chaos and confusion in heads, undermining trust at the intersection “government – society”, destruction of social infrastructure, and as a result – weakening and disintegration of the state. We will focus on these threats.
The resources for influencing actions and striking vulnerability are significant here.
The Internet has an increasing impact on a person’s daily life. More than 80% of Russians use the Internet to some degree. According to sociologists, the average resident of the country spends about 2.5 hours a day on social networks, which is a total of one month a year.
There is a huge increase in the amount of information consumed. Often a person is simply unable to understand it.
In such circumstances, there is a blurring of the line between opinion and fact, between fact and its interpretation. People perceive information only at the level of headlines, without going into detail and substance.
According to studies carried out by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center, one in two Russians cannot distinguish reliable news from fake news. “A lie will go around half the world before the truth has time to put on its shoes” is, alas, true.
We live in times that analysts already call the “post-truth era”.
The breakdown of truth is one of the world’s leading trends. And if there is no truth, everything is possible.
What to do in this situation?
For starters, people need to want to see a real picture of the world. “Anyone who sincerely wants the truth is already terribly strong,” wrote Fedor Mikhail Dostoyevsky in his diaries. Truth is a true picture of the world around us. The pursuit of truth is an intellectual effort, it is a labour and strain of the mind, it is, after all, a skill that needs to be instilled from childhood.
Are there people who do not want to see the world as it is? Certainly! And, alas, they’re becoming more numerous. They are in the majority already! People are immersed in information bunkers, where they don’t need the truth, where they want to listen to what they want to hear, where mental comfort is more important. They “become hooked on an information needle”, where not facts, but emotions are the desired goal.
“Man wants truth only to a limited extent,” argued Friedrich Nietzsche in his prophetic prediction, “he desires the pleasant, life-preserving consequences of truth, and he is indifferent toward pure knowledge which has no consequences.”
This becomes the ideological platform and “social-forage basis” of information warfare technologists. Their goal is to drive people into the information stall, which sounds disappointing to a wide audience, but this is, alas, a global trend.
As a result, the real picture of the world is soon be exclusive, which only a narrow group of elites that seek to govern the world will be entitled to. Sadly…
And yet there is a solution. It is in ourselves, it is to strive to think, to have an opinion, to develop the skills of orientation in the information flow, the ability to not “get hooked” on networks and/or at least to disconnect from them for a time. All of the above requires concentration, effort, and cognitive work.
This includes the issue of state policy in the field of education. We must teach our children and youngsters to have minds of their own in the information world, and not to stupidly consume information.
Our opponents believe that today the priority of hybrid influence should be given to information and ideological influence on social sentiment, on the values and traditions of Russians, and on trust in “government – society” relations, because direct and destructive cyber attacks, say, on the infrastructure of the Russian Federation risk receiving a harsh response from our side, and therefore are very risky for the West. Enemy beliefs – ideology, views, goals, strategy – are the main prize in hybrid warfare against us.
Literally these days the clamp down on Russian sports – as a social staple and pride of Russians – resumed. This is social-information aggression, this is a policy that has only an indirect relation to sport. And unfortunately, we’re losing again here. I will explain: in information wars there is only one strategy of victory – it is an offensive, it is pre-emptive work, first rank work, it is filling the information space with one’s content. In a situation where you work reflexively, taking the position of justifying – you will certainly lose. We are losing.
For the truth there is a real war, a war for the minds of Russians. We must be able to formulate our truth, to defend and communicate to “the city and the world”. And in an offensive way, leaving no space for opponents to manipulate public consciousness.
Informational-ideological influence is the first and most important stage of hybrid warfare, followed by social technologies of action.
Western hybrid warfare technologists understand that humans are a resource for achieving certain goals. Military-political goals too. You have to be able to work with this resource. After the globalisation of capital, goods, and images, the time came for the globalisation of the human mass. “Colour revolutions” are only one, albeit the most known, social technology of coups d’état in the face of artificially created instability. Using it, the West destroyed entire countries and coalitions in favour of its interests. The most recent examples are Hong Kong, unrest in Lebanon, Iran, Venezuela, and a coup in Bolivia. Next, everywhere…
As the Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation Sergey Shoigu stressed: “The West long ago worked out algorithms for overthrowing any inconvenient for them legitimate power in any country. Of course, all of this is done under the slogan of promoting democracy…”
How, where, and what are they striking?
They work across a broad front, but the focus of information attacks is directed at the following social environments of our society:
- Youth, as the most group-influenced segment of society;
- Pensioners, as the most socially dependent, and therefore manipulated category;
- Budget earners and beneficiaries of social benefits, as categories that depend entirely on the sustainability of the functioning of the State;
- Soldiers and members of law enforcement, as the most difficult in terms of “attainable” target audience, but the most important and supporting for the state of Russia, and therefore promising. Attacks on the army and law enforcement are on the rise.
Russian-speaking platforms based in the Baltics and Ukraine, as well as a fifth-column inside our country, are used for information attacks. The factor of the de-consolidation of a part of the Russian elite is used. The psychological and ideological resilience of society becomes key.
The cyber-strikes of opponents are aimed at the entire infrastructure of the state and society, but first of all at:
- The country’s energy system;
- Logistics, cargo, and passenger traffic management systems;
- Databases of social services;
- Banking system, payment systems;
- Social media, in which disinformation campaigns can be conducted against the background of the breakdown of classic state-controlled media;
- Emergency warning systems.
There are enough vulnerabilities here. Including at the domestic level… For example, today the phrase “Internet of Things” is often used. In fact, these are devices that are imposed by marketing technologies on us and collect information about us for our own money. They are based on integrated Internet communications. These are both TVs and “smart home” systems, and various gadgets, such as, for example, a smartphone or “smart watch”, that scan us and our surroundings, our interests, habits, status, and requests. And most importantly, by controlling you, the Internet of Things is starting to govern you. According to statistics, a smartphone is most often used for Internet access: in 90% of cases – young people (18-24 years old), in 50% – middle-aged people (40-60 years old), and in 30% – older generation (60+ years old). Just like this – Big Brother is already here…
Now is a time when humanitarian knowledge is turning into technology. Not always creative, but often destructive. Artificial intelligence is perhaps the most significant of them. After all, it’s not for nothing that AI is considered to be the third revolutionary innovation in military affairs after the invention of gunpowder and nuclear weapons.
“If someone can ensure a monopoly in the field of artificial intelligence, the consequences are clear to us all – it will become the ruler of the world,” said the Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation pays great attention to the problems and prospects for the development of artificial intelligence, as well as its effective application in military affairs and security in the civil sector. We intend to ensure Russia’s leadership in this area.
Limitless cyber capabilities – it is also difficult to predict risks in the field of national security and global risks. People, including those from the generation of computer games, who are extremely irresponsible regarding the use of military force, are approaching various “nuclear buttons” all over the world.
The program of a total, and often ill-conceived and hasty, digitalisation campaign announced in Russia creates additional vulnerabilities and national security risks.
In this regard, the strictest state safety review of projects involving the use of artificial intelligence technologies, a built-in testing system to detect possible errors, malicious tabs, and crashes are required.
Such state expertise at the interdepartmental level should be entrusted to the competent security authorities of the Russian Federation, where specialised units should be established to monitor risks and license artificial intelligence technologies.
The establishment of a single interdepartmental centre to counter information and cyber threats is overdue.
It is necessary to state – today there is no strategic vision of information security. Public policy in this area, corresponding to the seriousness of the challenges, is only in the formation stage. There is no single ideological and technological platform of information warfare, and its legal framework has not been properly worked out. Global information and cyber warfare processes are insufficiently systematically analysed. The work is carried out reflexively, chaotically, and after the fact. There is a lack of professionally trained personnel.
For starters, it is possible to introduce into the official circulation, management system, and legal field the concept of social information stability, which determines the ability of state and public structures to maintain their capacity in the conditions of cyber-strike operations against Russia, including those associated with negative information campaigns.
Achieving the specified state of social information stability should be considered as one of the most important goals of Russia not only in the sphere of military-power security, but also in the sphere of the socio-economic development of the Russian Federation.
The situation is pretty serious. Without a systematic information and cybersecurity policy, we may gradually cede control of our lives to foreign technologies and influence centers. We will surrender control and initiative in this area – we will lose sovereignty, we will lose the country…
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