Cybercriminals as the Russian State’s Deniable Proxies
Putin’s Russia has demonstrated a penchant for relying on proxies to provide a degree of deniability while pursuing its military objectives. As noted in Christoph Zürcher’s book The post-Soviet wars: Rebellion, ethnic conflict and nationhood in the Caucasus, Putin’s popularity emerged in large part due to his successful resolution of the conflict with Chechnya, which he achieved by co-opting the Kadyrov warlords. More recently, Putin has relied on not only deniable Russian forces, but also proxies within Ukraine. Still, blunders by Russian private military companies like the Wagner Group and Slavonic Corps in Syria have demonstrated how this deniability can backfire.
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