Andrássy Fellowship Roundtable in Budapest
On April 11-12, 2019, the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) and the Hungary Initiatives Foundation (HIF) organized two roundtables in Budapest, Hungary as part of the CEPA-HIF Andrássy National Security Fellowship Program.
Led by 2018 Andrássy Fellow Krisztián Jójárt, the roundtables were dedicated to fostering a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of hybrid warfare and, in a broader sense, contemporary Russian military thinking. During the closed-door discussions, experts from Hungary and the United States shared their thoughts on the theory and practice of Russian warfare. The participants concluded that there is no pattern to the Russian way of war, nor do the Russians wish to create a pattern.
As noted by some experts during the discussions, in Russian military thinking each war is viewed as unique, requiring an individual approach rather than a template. Recent examples of Russian military operations underscore this assessment. For example, the occupation of Crimea was carried out by special operations forces; in eastern Ukraine, Russia has relied on the use of proxies and heavy artillery; and in Syria, Russia turned to its air force and private military companies.
Further, participants emphasized the observable trend of increased privatization and monetization of warfare in the form of private military companies. Such companies, which have appeared in multiple conflict zones around the globe, provide governments with plausible deniability and are a cheap tool the Kremlin can use to execute its interests.
Russian military theorist General Major V.D. Ryabchuk noted years ago that “Thought is the first to enter battle.” Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov appears to think along the same lines, as he continues to focus on developing the military’s strategic options and the capabilities required to implement them. Roundtable participants agreed that, consequently, we must better understand the Russian way of war in order to defend ourselves against Russia’s malign influence in the future.
One of the Andrássy Fellowship Program’s main goals is to facilitate long-term ties between Hungarian and American experts. The roundtables organized in Budapest epitomized this aim by bringing together prominent American and Hungarian analysts who exchanged ideas on the challenges posed by Russia’s aggressive foreign policy and (re)emerging conventional and asymmetric capabilities.
April 12, 2019