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Russian military uses private-sector infrastructure in electronic warfare: expert

  • May 11, 2020
  • , Sankei , p. 5
  • JMH Translation
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Interviewed by Naohisa Hanzawa


Ground Self-Defense Force Major General Jiro Hiroe, Director General of the Ground Staff Office’s C4 Systems & Intelligence Department, sat down for an interview with the Sankei Shimbun. In February, Hiroe, who specializes in the “new domains” of outer space, cyberspace, and electromagnetic waves, visited Ukraine, which has been a target of Russian military intervention.


Question: How would you characterize Russia’s strategy for military intervention in Ukraine?


Jiro Hiroe: The Russian military disabled the Ukrainian military’s wireless communications through electronic jamming with electronic warfare equipment, thus forcing Ukrainian soldiers to use their personal cellphones to communicate with each other. Then the Russian military sent messages that promoted its strategy via email and other forms to the cellphones from electronic warfare equipment.


Getting into the cellphone network, which is private-sector infrastructure, constitutes electronic warfare via radio waves. Russia then added an element of cyber warfare by turning the cellphone network into something like an online space so that it could send messages and falsify data. It is an extremely advanced tactic never seen before. The fact that private-sector infrastructure was hijacked by the Russian military means that cellphones used by the general public are at risk of being hijacked as well.


Q: The Russian military sent fake orders to Ukrainian soldiers to change their base of deployment as well as messages, saying, “Run away, or you’ll be attacked!” This was aimed at demoralizing the soldiers.


Hiroe: If Ukrainian soldiers were to follow the fake orders, Russia would concentrate a firepower attack. Russia can also identify the radio waves sent from Ukrainian soldiers’ cellphones and then target them to carry out a pinpoint firepower attack. It is believed that the Russian military’s intelligence unit is creating messages that lower morale. Russia is incorporating psychological warfare because Ukrainian soldiers under firepower attack tend to believe such messages.


Q: You mean Russia’s strategy integrates electronic warfare, cyber warfare, and psychological warfare?


Hiroe: In addition to that, Russia involves its firepower combat unit. Russia’s strategy in Ukraine is said to be hybrid warfare. The strategies in the new domains tend to be the only ones that draw attention, but true hybrid warfare enhances the effectiveness of traditional firepower attacks and the like. Russia’s strategy in Ukraine is a classic case. We have to be prepared for such warfare.


There has long been electronic warfare using electromagnetic waves. These days, however, troops and equipment are connected via an information and communications network so interrupting that network is tantamount to attacking both the enemy’s troops and equipment because the enemy is render unable to operate them. Electromagnetic warfare has been positioned as a new domain as the era of network disruption warfare has dawned.


Q: The Chinese military is also emphasizing warfare that integrates electronic warfare, cyber warfare, and psychological warfare, calling it, “integrated network electronic warfare.”


Hiroe: The concept is the same as what the Russian military implemented in Ukraine. The Russian military may do what it has done in Europe in the Far East as well, and China may mimic it. It is indispensable to minutely analyze Russia’s warfare in Ukraine in order to predict what the Chinese military may try to do in the future.

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