Wikipedia defines this as follows: "Hybrid warfare is a military strategy that blends conventional warfare, irregular warfare and cyberwarfare."
I think it is even a lot more complex than this. Russia is also fighting an economical, social, psychological, political and media warfare. It uses EVERYTHING and ALL MEANS.
But... at this point is it also good to state and to realize that Russia is fighting this war with a HYBRID army. WE... have fixed ideas about the army. There is police, politicians, judges, lawyers (just to mention some) and you also have 'the army'.
For Russia, this is not so.
Russias 'army' consists of:
- Cossacks (something in between police and soldiers)
- conscripts, regular army (similar as with our armies)
- Chechen mercenaries (lots of them; Kadyrov has something to do with it)
- other mercenaries (Serbs, we see a lot of Asians)
- Berkut (former Ukrainian special police)
- ethnic Russians living in Ukraine who join
- 5th column (locals who work as foreign agents)
- Russian 'tourists' (nationalists who pretend to be Ukrainians)
- Real life actors, actresses and figurants (used for their own propaganda or deliberately seeking Western cameras to play their drama and speak their propaganda)
- Ukrainian soldiers and officers (either deserted from Ukrainian army or still working within the Ukrainian army as traitors/spies).
- local mafia and criminals given training and arms
- brainwashed locals (mainly manning checkposts and interviewed by Western media)
- locals somehow forced to join (mainly of young and very young age, or out of need/money)
- Russian criminals or 'inmates' given 'amnesty' in exchange for fighting in Ukraine (we have seen many of them already and there is going to be A LOT more of them; see this blog.)
- Special forces (seldom filmed; used to tip the balance in Russia's favor)
- FSB agents (they check and control)
- Russian generals 'coordinating the ceasefire' on the UKRAINIAN SIDE OF THE FRONTLINE
- Embedded journalist for creating propaganda (they also get a military training and are called 'our boys')
- Commanders (command and control is all in Russia's hand)
Furthermore Russia created 'DNR', 'LNR' and 'Novorossiya' labels to put anywhere on these forces and they are used randomly. Also army patches, insignia and tactical markings are used with very little consistency. This all confuses us.
A lot of the debate on twitter is about whether these forces should be called 'rebels', 'separatists', Russian-backed-separatists or 'Russian army'. The reason why a lot of media are reluctant to call this 'Russian army' is because there are indeed locals involved. And indeed this potpourri of 'militia' can hardly be called 'an army'. It does not fit with the image in our heads of an army.
But nevertheless THIS IS HOW RUSSIA IS FIGHTING THIS WAR!
This is a deliberate tactic! Russias army is a HYBRID army that tries to submerge in a local context. That's why it is so difficult for us to recognize it.
The many faces of Russias hybrid army: