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DECEMBER 2020

Pentagon Report On ‘Gray Zone’ Ops Moves To Fuel Russia-China Fears Even Further

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Pentagon Report On ‘Gray Zone’ Ops Moves To Fuel Russia-China Fears Even Further

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The 150-page report “Russian Strategic Intentions” was prepared by 23 contributers, including academics, think tank fellows and Pentagon brass in May 2019.

The report addressed the confrontation with Russia in the so-called gray zone —the conceptual space in which countries take action that lies somewhere on the continuum between warfare and peaceable relations. The report claimed that Russia is exploiting this gray zone effectively and the US should boost its efforts to counter it there.

“Understanding the future of global competition and conflict is now more important than ever before. In a dynamically changing world, the nature and character of warfare, deterrence, compellence, escalation management, and persuasion are key and essential in determining how
the United States and its partners should:

  • Strategize to defend their global interests against activities that are intended to undercut those interests across the spectrum of competition;
  • Defend their interests against threats by regional competitors via ways and means complementary to strategies vis-à-vis China and Russia but do not undercut other interests; and
  • Prepare US and partner forces to respond to unexpected and agile developments in global politics and technology by identifying areas for cooperation, mitigating the threat of activities short of armed conflict, and deterring armed conflict across multiple sources of national power (e.g., trade, diplomacy, security),” the document starts.

The report claims the following:

  • Russia is adopting coercive strategies that involve the orchestrated employment of military and nonmilitary means to deter and compel the US, its allies and partners prior to and after the outbreak of hostilities. These strategies must be proactively confronted, or the threat of significant armed conflict may increase.
  • Russia exhibits a deep-seated sense of geopolitical insecurity which motivates it to pursue strategic objectives that establish an uncontested sphere of influence in the post-Soviet region. Yet, Russians increasingly disagree with the Kremlin’s assertions that the US is a looming external danger and a subversive force in Russian domestic politics.
  • Russia’s gray zone tactics are most effective when the target is deeply polarized or lacks the capacity to resist and respond effectively to Russian aggression. According to Russian strategic thought, deterrence and compellence are two sides of the same coin.

The report is adressing many mainstream fears and speculations, including the continued rise of China towards being a “fully developed nation” by 2050, the recovery of Russia to a position of global prominence decades after the collapse of the USSR and the US’ supposed “narrative problem”. In this framework, the document blames any Chinese and Russian attempts to defend their intersts around the globe as ‘hostile actions’ and claims that the US-NATO expansion is the only thing that may contribute to the so-called global stability.

While, in general, the document said nothing new regarding the dominating mainstream look at the international situation, it’s interesting to note how often such reports are being released by Western governmental agencies, think tanks and other organizations. These efforts alongside with other influence operations are designed to assist mainstream media efforts to paint China, Russia, Iran and other states that work against the Western maisntream as a kind of the axis of evil, thus justifying US-NATO agressive diplomatic, economic and even military actions around the world.

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