A Model for State Cyber Power: Case Study of Russian Behaviour


  • JUHA KAI MATTILA Aalto University




cyber domain, state power, international relationships, modelling, cyber strategy, cyber operations


The emerging cyber environment with new information channels provides a novel avenue for states to project their powers to govern their residents and fulfil their international ambitions. The recent manipulation of elections, coercing companies, blackmailing citizens, and suppressing essential infrastructure services reflects an increased activity and development both by state and non-state entities in the cyber environment. Several models for inter-state power projection are created in studies of international relationships, military strategy, and, recently, hybrid warfare. Do these models recognise the foundational transformation in international power projection? Do they explain the current national cyber strategies? Can they help foresee the possible developments of power projection in international confrontations?

The paper seeks a bigger picture from other power strategies in fulfilling the state’s political ambitions. Furthermore, the paper explores the evolution of the cyber environment and its possible emerging features for international power projection. A constructive research method builds a multiple domain power projection model by combining systems thinking with various models from international relationships, military strategies, business strategies to classical decision making. Finally, the feasibility of the model is tested in a case study of Russian cyber strategies and actions between 2007-2020 from a positivistic approach.
As a result, the model seems to help explain the past cyber power-wielding and provide insights into current national cyber policies. Further testing is required to evaluate the model’s feasibility in creating a foresight. Nevertheless, the proposed state-level cyber power projection model extends the existing models with a system dynamics viewpoint. Additionally, it adds the dimension of evolution to consider the future changes of international power projections in the information realm. Hence, the model improves the ability of national defence planners to study cyber strategies and estimate the lines of operation and impact of cyber operations.