Perspective: The Russia connectionPentagon Report: Russian Leaders Believe They Are Already at War with the United States—in the Gray Zone

Published 8 July 2019

A group of governmental, military, and outside experts published a white paper urging the US government to jump fully into the so-called gray zone—the conceptual space in which countries take action that lies somewhere on the continuum between warfare and peaceable relations.  Russia, they say, is exploiting it effectively. It’s in the gray zone that Russia meddles with elections, launches online disinformation campaigns, and uses a host of other means to gain greater leverage in places ranging from the former Soviet states to Latin America. Matt Field, writing in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, notes that Russia’s already doing well in this sub-military conflict space. He quotes Nicole Peterson, who writes in the report’s executive summary: “Overall, Russia’s influence abroad is growing, and the Kremlin has mastered the use of ‘hybrid warfare’ in driving Russia’s foreign policy… Russia utilizes a variety of gray zone tactics   around the globe. These include the use of paramilitary forces and other proxies, interference in political processes, economic and energy exploitation (particularly in Africa), espionage, and media and propaganda manipulation.”