Proxies, Freelancers and Moscow's Struggle for Ukraine
Focussing on Putin’s volunteer militants, Arutunyan’s reportage covers the pro-Russian insurgency and the war it sparked in eastern Ukraine.
The Russian government’s deniable use of rogues, businessmen, enthusiasts, mercenaries and political technologists confounded policymakers as Moscow waged a covert invasion of Ukraine in 2014. Did Crimea and Donbas reveal the Kremlin’s new ‘hybrid war’ playbook? Or was Moscow itself manipulated by the very forces it had unleashed? Given the disinformation and skewing of the narrative, it is no wonder that the international community has dramatically misunderstood the very nature of this war and was unprepared for the Kremlin’s sudden and brutal escalation in 2022.
As Russia’s overt military operation in Ukraine risks pitting the world’s great powers against each other, Hybrid Warriors traces the trajectory of the conflict from the bottom up. Starting from the first pivotal years in the 2010s, the book draws on unique interviews, reporting from the conflict zones, and wider on-the-ground research, to reconstruct the granular relationships between civilians, non-state actors, and the Kremlin that co-opted them. In the process, it speaks not just to the history of this conflict, but also to our wider understanding of how Putin’s Kremlin works and how it has prosecuted its war on Ukraine.
Anna Arutunyan is a Russian-American journalist, author and analyst. She covered the 2014 war for USA Today from Crimea and Donetsk, and has since analysed the conflict for the International Crisis Group. Her book, The Putin Mystique: Inside Russia’s Power Cult, was published in over a dozen languages.