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"Historical Reflections On The ‘Grey Zone’" Topic


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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP25 May 2020 3:44 p.m. PST

"Following Anna Karenina's suicide in Tolstoy's eponymous novel, her lover Count Vronsky enlists to fight for the Serbs against the Turks. Vronsky's decision reflected the contemporary reality of Russian volunteers taking up arms against the Ottoman Empire during the Balkan crises that preceded the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, and it provides a reminder that the phenomenon of the ‘foreign fighter' is not a new one, but that the current and contested concept of ‘grey zone' warfare is not unprecedented either.

‘War in the grey zone' has become a common phrase in defence circles on both sides of the Atlantic. It is defined as ‘competitive interactions among and within state and non-state actors that fall between the traditional war and peace duality', which are also ‘characterized by ambiguity about the nature of the conflict, opacity of the parties involved, or uncertainty about the relevant policy and legal frameworks'. The essence of ‘grey zone' warfare is that it involves disguised aggression that conceals attribution and enables a state to achieve its objectives either by incremental means (as per China's pursuit of its maritime territorial claims against its South-East Asian neighbours) or a sudden coup de main (notably the takeover of the Crimean Peninsula by Russia's ‘little green men' in February-March 2014)…"
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