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The State of Knowledge about NATO and Canadian Responses to Russia since its annexation of Crimea in 2014: A synthesis of existing knowledge and identification of knowledge gaps and strengths

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  • Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada
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Russian warfare in the 21st century has ushered in a new paradigm—one in which states are in perpetual conflict with one another in a manner that best operates in the shadows. This model, known to Americans and most Westerners as hybrid warfare, is known to Russians as New Generation Warfare. Hybrid warfare, much like any nation’s or polity’s way of warfare, is explicitly linked to the country from which it derives its power. In the case of Russia, the hybrid warfare model seeks to operate along a spectrum of conflict that has covert action and overt combat as its bookends, with partisan warfare as the glue that binds the two ends together. This model seeks to capitalize on the weaknesses associated with nascent technology and therefore acts aggressively in new domains of war—such as cyber—while continuing to find innovative ways to conduct effective information warfare. However, what is often lost in the discussion of the technological innovation of Russian hybrid warfare is that a conventional line of effort resides just below the surface. The Donbas campaign of the Russo–Ukrainian War (2014–present) highlights this idea. The Donbas campaign showcases innovations in Russian land warfare through the actions of Russian land forces—working in conjunction with separatist land forces—throughout the campaign. Most notably, these innovations include the development of the battalion tactical group (BTG)—a formation that possesses the firepower to punch at the operational level of war—coupled with a reconnaissance-strike model not seen on contemporary battlefields. Furthermore, the BTG and reconnaissance-strike model work in tandem to create siege warfare opportunities for the Russian and separatist forces, allowing them to generate high levels of destruction while operating beneath the notice of the international community. Russian hybrid warfare, throughout the Russo–Georgian War (2008) and the Russo– Ukrainian War, has proven itself to be an effective instrument. Its utility beyond proximity to the Russian border is unknown, but it still proves a unique problem for contemporary and future-minded military leaders.
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The Ukrainian crisis altered the security paradigm in Europe by forcing NATO to revise its stance towards Russia, as it employed a wide array of military and non-military tools and tactics called “hybrid warfare.” To counter Russian hybrid warfare in future, the NATO Alliance implemented functional and structural changes known the Readiness Action Plan (RAP) and endorsed the New Strategy on Hybrid Warfare. This paper will study Russian hybrid warfare activities and the preparedness of an Alliance shaped by the RAP and the New Strategy on Hybrid Warfare. It discusses whether this new NATO will be able to deter Russia from resorting to hybrid warfare against a NATO ally. While the Alliance has enhanced its military capabilities to a great extent, the Allies’ ability to achieve consensus on a response is the factor most likely to deter and dissuade Russia from engaging in hybrid warfare.
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Ukraine has always had a special place in Canadian foreign policy. Currently, Canada is deeply engaged in supporting Ukraine to restore political and economic stability and to implement democratic reforms. The Government in Ottawa has condemned Russian aggressive policy and the illegal military occupation of Crimea and has taken a variety of steps and initiatives since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine in 2014 including imposing sanctions, economic and military assistance, and supporting of NATO measures.
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This book investigates the options, the debates and the ensuing foreign and military policies of Russian government. It examines the evolution of policy from the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991 until the Presidential elections in June 1996. Analysing Russia's actions in the context of contemporary foreign policy theory, Nicole J. Jackson discusses and compares three key conflicts: the separatist war between Moldova and Transdniestria; the separatist war between Georgia and Abkhazia and the civil war in Tajikistan.
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Relations between the West and Russia have worsened since Russia annexed Crimea in February 2014. This article explains how this deterioration has affected the Arctic Council. The council is an international institution with eight member states with territory in the Arctic (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States) as well as six indigenous peoples' organizations. The mandate of the institution is to promote environmental protection and sustainable development in the Arctic. There is currently a debate in the media about the impact of Russia's actions on Arctic governance. Some accounts argue that the Arctic Council's work continues unabated in the aftermath of Crimea, while others point to worrying signs that the institution is experiencing difficulty. This research helps settle this debate by empirically demonstrating Russia's behaviour. It concludes that the breakdown in Russian-United States relations has not had an immediate impact on the council. The article employs descriptive statistics to understand Russia's patterns of activity in the council in three periods (1998-2000, 2007-2009 and 2013-2015). It examines Russia's participation in meetings and its sponsorship of initiatives. It draws from a variety of council documents. It shows that earlier in the history of the council, Russia's participation was similar to the Nordic countries. The article empirically demonstrates that Russia's participation in the Arctic Council has increased over time.
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Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and the subsequent deterioration in its relations with the West have led many analysts to adopt a narrow view of Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy motivations, chalking them up to old-school geopolitics. This paper makes the case that the traditional structural explanations for Russian foreign policy that are dominant within the discipline of international relations do not adequately consider the influence of identity in Putin’s emerging foreign policy narrative. Putin’s narrative is shaped by, and shapes, a discourse about cultural and historical ties with Russian borderlands, as well as by the cultural and security vulnerabilities generated by the West’s treatment of Russia, evidenced by the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This discourse has underscored a more militant foreign policy turn under Putin in which he is prepared to protect and defend Russia’s interests at high cost; Russia’s actions in Crimea exemplify this. This connection between identity and foreign policy in Putin’s Russia demands attention if we hope to gain a better grasp of Russian foreign policy under his leadership.
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After the long domination of economic and collective action theories, the literature on the political aspects of Allied burden-sharing is growing. This article analyses the politics of fair-share in NATO from the perspective of Canadian officials during the first burden-sharing debates in 1949–1952. I focus on sense-making and, through an interpretive methodology, I reconstruct the Canadian discourse on fair-share. This article shows that for Canada sharing NATO’s burden was not only a matter of technicality or realist considerations; in order to make NATO burden-sharing work, the allies needed to balance three dimensions of collective defence burden: military, economic, and moral.