State actors, notably China and Russia, are increasingly seeking to achieve strategic gains via hybrid operations in the economic and financial (E&F) domain, masked as benign commercial activity in the legitimate international financial and trading systems.

Security-related abuses of the legitimate international trading and financial systems by authoritarian state actors has become considerably more prevalent over the past two decades. While economic and financial sanctions are more commonplace and varied, so too are the measures taken to circumvent them (including potential use of cryptocurrencies, de-dollarization, etc.)

Competitors and adversaries of the United States and its allies routinely employ economic and financial (E&F) warfighting techniques in seeking to gain leverage over other countries in the form of fostering inordinate dependencies, embargoes, acquisition of strategic infrastructure and assets, hacking, debt-traps and other “nation-capture” activities. These actions and more are designed to undermine rules-based market competition and democratic institutions. For example, Russia’s new brand of “hybrid” or unconventional warfare has a major E&F component that is roughly on par with its more visible and better-understood political/military dimensions.

PSSI Washington has long recognized this reality and in 2006 established a program dedicated to educating the security communities and militaries of allied nations, as well as academia, industry and non-governmental organizations, concerning the various modalities of E&F statecraft and warfare, particularly the strategic use by prospective adversaries of their forward-deployed state-controlled enterprises.