The term “hybrid war” first appeared in military documents of the USA and UK in the late twentieth century. The annual data book on armed forces around the world The Military Balance 2015 calls a “hybrid war” capture and subordination of the territory with the help of large-scale, rapid informational, electronic and cyber operations, cover-up and concealment of military and intelligence operations taking place together with intense economic pressure”. One of the points of a hybrid war Pridnestrovie is a small unrecognized state on the bank of the Dniester which has already been in the front line for 25 years. President of Pridnestrovie Yevgeny Shevchuk said in an interview to the Rossiyskaya Gazeta about how “hybrid technologies” affect the lives of each Pridnestrovian and how the unrecognized state manages to resist external pressure.
Yevgeny Vasilyevich, how would you describe the current relations of Pridnestrovie with neighbouring countries?
Yevgeny Shevchuk: The situation is extremely difficult. Ukraine and Moldova openly make political statements that it is time to radically solve the Pridnestrovie problem. Some of the statements of the Ukrainian leadership talk about the wish to “unfreeze the conflict”. The Moldovan leadership’s statements come down to the requirement to withdraw the troops of the Russian Federation. We have information that the coordination centre, which today affects the adoption of a number of political decisions in Kishinev and Kiev, started implementing a plan to strengthen economic pressure on the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic. The goal is to strangle the economy of Pridnestrovie “using a soft pillow”, thus triggering serious social problems and, as a result, internal discontent, to encourage on this wave protests that then referring to “destabilization of the situation”, try to change the format of the peacekeeping operation and create conditions for bringing force structures of Moldova or maybe Romania into Pridnestrovie. So that the current unprecedented in its scale economic blockade, restriction of freedom of movement of citizens, prosecution of Pridnestrovians officials and so on is only part of the scenario of destruction of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic and force inclusion of Pridnestrovie into the Republic of Moldova.
That is the sovereignty of Pridnestrovie is the main goal of the attack?
Yevgeny Shevchuk: I think the main goal is the Russian Federation. Obviously, a number of Western representatives press all the pain points of Russia, the guarantor of our peace and prosperity, try to weaken, to draw into the conflict. The Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic has been subjected to similar permanent attacks for all 25 years of its existence. It was not just accepted to talk about it: it is an unpopular topic for Western media. In addition, we learned together to repel most of the external attacks. But today we perhaps for the first time face such cynical and complex approach. We are attacked in all directions. And very hard. The economic, diplomatic, information wars are waging against us, which are components of a hybrid war against Pridnestrovie. And this war is waged not to put pressure. It is already clear: this is an exterminatory war.
How does the hybrid war affect the common man?
Yevgeny Shevchuk: The integrated pressure on the republic with a clear allusion to the possibility of a military outcome - this is a hybrid war. It is a war being waged against us by the latest Western technology that has proven its effectiveness in different parts of the world. This is well understood by experts, but it is difficult for the common man to understand. This specificity of hybrid war: it is not clear where the threat is and from whom it comes, what it is like. One of the main problems in the defense against hybrid attacks is to identify them. Enemy may be hiding under the most “sincere” masks of a fighter “for all the good against all the bad”, for the people and justice, for democracy and freedom, and so on.
There are many examples in the world and one of the undoubted signs of a hybrid war - forming a kind of “guerrilla movement”, “fifth column”, an extensive network of organizations that declare their good intentions, but at the zero hour they are activated by secret services’ money as a shock force of another “Maidan”. Some non-governmental projects and organizations are provided with foreign grants whose purpose is to discredit the idea of the Pridnestrovian statehood.
For the ordinary citizen it may look like the economic crisis, the growth of protest moods, the aggravation of internal conflicts. And they literally pass authorities off as the understandable enemy to people. This is mandatory part of the formation of negative agenda in tactics directed against the state as a whole.
After the outbreak of war in Ukraine and undeclared economic blockade they expected that we will have collapse of the national currency - and then poverty would spread like pestilence. It would be the full and wholesale economic crisis. But we decided to keep the national currency rate. In this option there are serious losses too. Obviously, we are unable to pay 100 percent of salaries and pensions. But it is softer option, it is not exactly what those who work against us sought and awaited. Now speculation is expanding, a massive attack is organized on the social networks, the authorities are discredited, the socio-political situation is stirred up. It is well-organized, systematic work, for which they spared neither money nor power. But I would like to ask all right-minded people: what will happen to Pridnestrovie in case of implementation of one of the plans of so-called paid protest? In my opinion, the answer is obvious. There will be no Pridnestrovie. And they reckon on this.
You have mentioned about a centre that coordinates decisions on the economic strangulation of the PMR. Do you know its plans?
Yevgeny Shevchuk: We know. And they do not hide some of them. For example, one of the problems that the economy of Pridnestrovie will face in the coming months is the abolition of a number of preferences for our exports to European countries. The regime of autonomous trade preferences for exporting enterprises of Pridnestrovie with the EU terminates from 1 January 2016.
According to the requirements. To ensure our businesses to be able to maintain their presence in European markets, we have to actually give ourselves up. We have to admit Moldovan experts, various inspectors, tax authorities to our territory, in fact, to give control to the Republic of Moldova over the economy of enterprises that export their products to Europe. Otherwise - the risks and threats of a halt of any exports. This is a terrible blow to the economy with the aim of destroying Pridnestrovie’s budget which has already been difficult. Some political forces in Kishinev openly declare that the situation on January 1, 2016 will be such a final assault, after which supposedly Pridnestrovie itself fall into their hands.
The Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic has repeatedly passed through the crisis, but we really face with the pressure of such scale for the first time. This is a serious situation, but our independence is not a small change. It is time for our “sworn enemies and partners” to accept the inevitable: they will not bring Pridnestrovie to its knees, destroy, and integrate into Moldova through blackmail, threats and bribery of a number of Pridnestrovian business entities.
Perhaps a global confrontation between Russia and the United States is the key factor in the sharp deterioration of the situation? They want to destroy you as a kind of “Russian islet”?
Yevgeny Shevchuk: The vast majority of Pridnestrovian citizens would want to live in alliance with Russia, and even better – as part of the Russian Federation. Pridnestrovie wants to remain in the Russian -speaking and spiritual space. To destroy Pridnestrovie means to destroy a small island of Russia, the Russian presence in this part of Europe. This is, in my opinion, is the true reason that such a complex and expensive hybrid war is launched against Pridnestrovie, which soldiers on. The war against Pridnestrovie is a war primarily against the Russian presence.
Today, Russian troops stationed in Pridnestrovie provide a vital function of maintaining peace and they are parties to the peacekeeping operation. If there were the Russian peacekeepers, all the diplomatic and economic wars would have long ago moved to the stage of military actions, and the situation here would have been flared up even worse than in Donbass.
What do you personally do to organize the defense?
Yevgeny Shevchuk: Under the Constitution, the president of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic is a Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the country. But another constitutional task of the president is protection of the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
Therefore, according to the Constitution the president is the centre of major decisions to combat all the variety of steps of the enemy, which is, I stress, quite subtle, hiding the real goals under the “peace-loving” mask.
We also have developed our practices, so to speak, the Pridnestrovian know-how, without which we would not have withstood even a year and a half after the events in Ukraine. I can only tell about some things when they are declassified. But something can be revealed today. We maintained the stability of the Pridnestrovian currency, actions to increase the rate of turnover of money in the economy were taken. Our banking system, unfortunately, is not recognized, Moldova and Ukraine try permanently to block our financial operations of the banking system, which is the lifeblood of any economy. The U.S. Department of the Treasury publishes circulars periodically to keep the dollar payments of Pridnestrovian economic agents out of the world. We had to create mechanisms to support the functionality of our payment systems, without which the economy does not exist. Details are confidential and relate to economic security. Everyone sees what is on the surface: our currency is stable and resistant. The effects of this war - the payments of public sector wages and pensions are made not in full. But we are going to deal with this problem. This is a temporary phenomenon and depends largely on external factors. As soon as the external economic situation stabilizes, we will be able to schedule repayment of debts. We keep the perimeter defense.
How do you assess the success of the PMR in the hybrid war?
Yevgeny Shevchuk: Despite all the problems, we demonstrate stability. There is a certain margin of safety, which allowed us to keep the state from destruction. But the main source of this strength lies in the wisdom of the Pridnestrovian citizens, in their firm position. They are not hooked massively by rhetoric of paid politicians, by some handouts and gifts and they understand with their hearts the depth of the problem.
We have difficulties, but over the past four years the success of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic is obvious. Investments in social projects, health and education infrastructure take place with the support of Russia. Investments are ten times higher than indices of previous decades. Schools, kindergartens are being reconstructed, a number of major projects in the health sector are being implemented.
I would like to express my gratitude to the leadership of the Russian Federation, the Russian people. Under conditions of sanctions, other negative factors the Russian government supports citizens of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, Russian citizens living in our territory, actually protects justice so that the people could not to be compelled by force of arms, through provoking social problems, poverty, to take the decisions they do not want to.
It looks like Russia has the great mission from God in the modern world - to maintain justice, to protect its citizens. Though now it is not easy. I am sure that both we and Russia will stand, cope with current problems. I am convinced that the Russian state has a great future, a key leading role in the world.
Do you count on Russia's help?
Yevgeny Shevchuk: We need first of all for material and financial resources. Interests of the people have priority under the economic blockade. We also need a clear and comprehensible to all support in the world arena. We want to stop this war: we do not need it, because we are peaceful people and we do not threaten our neighbours.
Russia is deeply involved in the peaceful settlement issue, since it is necessary to defend the interests of 200 thousand Russian citizens living in Pridnestrovie. We know that the Russian Federation is not interested in the fact that they become poverty-stricken, that coercive measures be taken against them, the hybrid exterminatory war be continued. We know: Russia does not leave its people out in a war. Hybrid or not, whatever you call, but the victims in this war are quite specific - the people deprived of the right to well-being, stability and confidence in the future. And I am convinced that today it's time to tell the world: Pridnestrovie is not a defenceless victim of circumstances. We will fight for our future, for justice.
Source: Rossiyskaya Gazeta