Cyber warfare is often described as an integral part of future wars. But cyber has proven to have a profound impact on our operational reality today. Some states have adapted to this reality already, while others struggle. As this article shows, Russia has implemented cyber as an integral part of its strategic framework, and demonstrated its effectiveness in the attainment of political objectives on several occasions. We argue that Russia has risen from the technological backwaters of the 90’s to become a great cyber-power – challenging state and military capabilities the West has taken for granted. The West, it seems, is on the defensive.
The authors suggest NATO needs to reassert itself in the cyber domain. Technological maturity is no panacea if we are unable to utilize it to create a convincing and functional means-ends chain between cyber and political goals. Russia is still technologically inferior to the West but has hacked the code of translating capabilities to effects. A key argument in this article is that the West must re-focus its attention from technology as a deterministic power, to its utilization for strategic ends. Technology does not win wars – people win wars. And technology is no replacement for strategy and military thought. To this end, Russia has a few lessons to offer.