Preliminary Lessons from Russia’s Unconventional Operations During the Russo-Ukrainian War, February 2022–February 2023

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Russian propaganda poster hanging on the administrative building of Kupiansk, Ukraine. Courtesy of Zuma Press / Alamy

An early analysis of the evidence sheds light on Russia's unconventional operations in its war against Ukraine.

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 sent shockwaves around the world as states reacted to the return of high-intensity state-on-state conventional warfare on the European continent. Less attention has been paid to the unconventional aspects of this conflict – and yet, these are essential to understanding Russian actions and methods. The invasion itself can be seen as the intended culmination of a long unconventional campaign waged by Russia against Ukraine. The unconventional operations during the war have often been critical to Russia’s successive theories of victory, even as its conventional forces have failed to achieve their objectives on the battlefield. For those wishing to understand the Russian way of war and to learn lessons for their own defence, it is important to study this unconventional side of the conflict.


Dr Jack Watling

Senior Research Fellow, Land Warfare

Military Sciences

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Oleksandr V Danylyuk

Associate Fellow - Expert in Russian multidimensional warfare

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Nick Reynolds

Research Fellow, Land Warfare

Military Sciences

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