Many Western commentators have called Russia's seizure of Crimea a new type of warfare. But is it really? This hazy mix of political, covert, economic and other activity ─ things like espionage, provocation and propaganda ─ is actually only the latest chapter in a 100-year-old playbook the Bolsheviks called "active measures".[i] Though modernised to exploit the speed and reach of 21st-century mass/social media, this playbook retains its basic aim: to influence behaviour, enabling the Soviet-era intelligence and security men ruling Russia today to manipulate opponents. Active measures seem new to us now only because the West allowed its Russia expertise to die away after 1991, forgetting vital Cold War lessons along the way.
Victor Madeira writes for the Institute for Statecraft.