THE US-RUSSIA RELATIONSHIP: GRAY ZONE TACTICS & RESPONSE

On March 25, 2019, Partnership for a Secure America hosted an off-the-record dinner discussion for CPP alumni on Russian use of “gray zone” tactics. Russia has increasingly used these tactics – “attempts to achieve one’s security objectives without resort to direct and sizeable use of force” – to accomplish its foreign policy objectives in recent years. Many countries have been targets of these tactics, from the use of unidentified soldiers in Ukraine to the threat of withholding European gas supplies in response to Western sanctions. To combat these tactics, the United States and its allies must offer a coherent and coordinated front opposing Russian encroachment.

Some U.S. allies have successfully counteracted Russian gray zone tactics, and awareness of the Kremlin’s playbook has steadily risen over the last several years. However there is room for the United States to learn from others and improve its own responses, particularly as Russia continues to throw its weight behind undermining the U.S. backed international order. Russia’s use of gray zone tactics is well-known and documented – as is their effectiveness. Bipartisan action is needed now to promote innovative transatlantic solutions for checking Russian aggression in the gray zone.