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To war or not to war? Russia’s cyber strategies in Ukraine 2014-22

Had Moscow used cyber operations to substitute kinetic operations in February 2022, we would have seen a full-blown cyber war instead of a conventional invasion. In fact, the consequences of the pre-war period were modest and most of the actions taken seemed to be rushed or poorly planned. Russia failed to achieve its strategic objectives using cyber operations and the Kremlin concluded that its only option was to launch a military campaign.

At the 2013 meeting of senior Russian and American defence officials, General Nikolai Makarov ridiculed the lack of information warfare in the US Cyber Command’s (USCYBERCOM) mission. In his provocative speech he told his counterparts, “one uses information to destroy nations, not networks” and taunted that the omission of information warfare proves the Americans’ ignorance. That was also a clear message about Russian priorities for cyberspace, which were later reflected in Russian strategic documents and also applied in Ukraine in 2022.
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February 15, 2023 - Błażej Sajduk Dominika Dziwisz - Issue 1-2 2023Lessons of cybersecurityMagazine

Illustration by Andrzej Zaręba

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