The Russian hacking efforts against the West is well designed and planned. The Russian concept of maskirovka has expanded from traditional military aspects of denial and deception to information warfare and cyber psychological operations. Imagine you have hacked a target not knowing exactly what you will find. The plan is to extract information from the initial target, examine the information, recalibrate, replan, while setting new actions of disinformation in play. We believe that the data inside the DNC emails has not yet been fully exploited. It would behoove the DNC and other US officials to examine every syllable of every word to determine what was exposed, determine what the Russians may do with this data, and plan to proactively counter the deception that will come from the Russians. The hacking was but one facet of a larger plan by Putin and his inner circle to disrupt, deceive, influence, and exploit weaknesses in the US including political and social beliefs and movements. EU countries are also targeted especially those with upcoming elections. Their actions have been very effective. Treadstone 71 Training 2017
There is a collective lack of institutional memory among target audiences, namely the West – a significant proportion of which had not even been born when Soviet subversion was a concern – therefore, they don’t have the level of knowledge and subsequent paranoia of baby boomers who used to hide under their classroom desktops in atomic bomb drills. Russia has invested hugely in enabling factors to adapt the principles of subversion to the internet age. These new Russian investments cover internally and externally focused media with a substantial online presence, of which RT and Sputnik are the best-known but only two examples; Use of social media and online forums as a force multiplier to ensure Russian narratives achieve broad reach and penetration; and language skills, to engage with target audiences on a broad front in their language.
You may even find funding through shell companies that eventually use Western PR firms to place pro-Russian ads in US media. (Ketchum)
Past examples of maskirovka that are not to be forgotten:
- Soviet military units designated for the Cuban assignment were told that they were going to a cold region. They were outfitted with skis, felt boots, fleece-lined parkas, and other winter equipment.
- Officers and missile specialists traveled to Cuba as machine operators, irrigation specialists, and agricultural specialists.
- Missiles were shipped from 8 Soviet ports to hide the size of the effort (loaded at night)
- Missile crates and launchers were shielded with metal sheets to defeat infrared photos.
- Ships had autos, tractors, and harvesters top deck.
- False bills of lading and cargo records – tonnage declared well below actual weight. Cuba is not listed as the destination.
- All agricultural gear unloaded in Cuba – daytime
- All else unloaded in Cuba – nighttime
- Radio Moscow regularly report USSR supplying Cuba with machine tools, wheat, and agricultural machinery – fertilizer
- Soviets leaked accurate information through counterrevolutionary Cuban groups in the US. Information the US discounted since groups were not seen to be credible.
- Soviet diplomats assured the US no intention of offensive weaponry in Cuba
Russia under Putin is a large business conglomerate looking to establish political hegemony over oil producing companies in the Middle East. Putin drives his economy through oil and gas. Establishing business relationships with large US and other Western companies is part of his plan to influence US policy.
The Syrian effort was as much to protect Assad as it was to ensure the Russian version of the oil and gas pipelines were preserved.
The populist movements serve to drive isolationism in Western countries and NATO at a time when Russia is expanding its footprint.
Going back to maskirovka, Putin is maneuvering to gain a positional advantage against the West.
Maskirovka—the art of deception—to elevate the complete set of actions and conditions that fall short of war that enables battlefield victories to be decided before tanks and infantry close in battle, what he did in the Crimea. It is Maskirovka, and the complementary technological changes related to the Internet, social media, lies and propaganda that somehow is being called ‘fake news,’ to be taken as gospel.