Gray zone and hybrid warfare - impact on energy supply


  • Daniel Jonsson

Publish date: 2018-05-07

Report number: FOI-R--4590--SE

Pages: 82

Written in: Swedish


  • grey zone
  • hybrid warfare
  • crisis prepardeness
  • contingency planning
  • civil defence
  • total defence
  • energy supply
  • energy security


The gray zone is usually understood as a state between peace and war. Gray zone problems are caused by a number of combined antagonistic activities. The intention of the attacker is that the activities should not be perceived as warfare. A gray zone strategy could include activities such as influencing policy, market manipulation, disinformation, supporting political extremists, power demonstrations, illegal intelligence gathering, threats and pressure on decision makers, cyberattacks and physical sabotages. Basing antagonistic activities on gray zone strategy is not a new phenomenon, but the actuality of this has increased, not the least since such a strategy is facilitated by the information technological development, but also since the role of non-military means has been given more importance in Russian strategic thinking. One purpose of exercising a gray zone strategy in a conflict situation instead of military violence, would be to gain benefits and to achieve political goals without meeting escalation and powerful countermeasures. The purpose could also be to test, practice or demonstrate certain abilities, or finally that the activities are in fact war preparations. There are a number of alternative interpretations of the gray zone. A related concept is hybrid warfare. The gray zone concept needs to be clearly defined and delimited, in order to be useful in a total defence context, e.g. only the activities stage-managed by the qualified antagonistic state, resulting in obvious cumulative impact on society. The gray zone creates a number of challenges for the crisis preparedness and the total defence. The special regulations for the civil defence are not activated until a state of heightened alert is declared. The crisis preparedness actors, also the civil defence actors, thus have to plan for handling the gray zone in the context of peacetime as well as wartime regulations. (See continuation in report).