Russian Reflexive Control


  1. Keir, G.
  2. Sherr, J.
  3. Seaboyer, A.
Corporate Authors
Defence Research and Development Canada, Toronto Research Centre , Toronto ON (CAN);Royal Military Coll of Canada, Kingston ONT (CAN)
Russia is increasingly applying methods of reflexive control (RC) to influence political decision-making through election manipulation as well as undermining the trust of citizens in political institutions and political systems of targeted countries. Russia is employing RC not only domestically and in neighboring countries such as Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland but also more and more in NATO countries such as the US, Germany, France, Great Britain, and Canada. For the CAF to be able to develop effective countermeasures, it is essential to achieve a deeper understanding of RC as it was used traditionally during the Cold War and particularly how it has been further developed to be used in current Russian operations. This report discusses the concept of Russian reflexive control, how it has evolved into its current iteration, the mechanics of how it works, and how to identify possible countermeasures to RC. This RMCC research report addresses the following research questions: 1. What is Russian reflexive control? 2. In what instances has RC been successfully applied? 3. What were the underpinning mechanisms by which it worked? 4. What are possible countermeasures to RC? 5. What are possible applications of RC mechanisms by the CAF? The paper concludes that reflexive control in its current form implies a compound program of targeted decision-making through multiple vectors, accounting for not only the adversary's logical processing of information, but also emotion
Reflexive Control;Information warfare;Social media
Report Number
DRDC-RDDC-2018-C182 — Contract Report
Date of publication
01 Oct 2018
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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