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While a strategy of subversion offers great strategic promise in theory, it faces an underappreciated set of challenges that limit its strategic value in practice. In this event Lennart Maschmeyer provides a powerful new theory and analysis of an age-old concept: Subversion. Drawing from two major cases—the KGB's use of traditional subversion methods to crush the Prague Spring in 1968 and Russia's less successful use of cyberwarfare against Ukraine since 2014—Maschmeyer demonstrates both the benefits and weaknesses of the approach. While many believe that today's cyber-based subversion campaigns offer new strategic opportunities, they also come with their own challenges. Because of these disadvantages, cyber operations continue to fall short of expectations—most recently in the Russo-Ukrainian war. By showing that traditional subversion methods remain the more potent threat, Subversion forces us to reconsider our fears of the subversive potential of cyberwar.

Event panellists:

  • Lennart Maschmeyer is a senior researcher in cybersecurity at the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich. He holds a PhD from the University of Toronto and an MPhil from the University of Oxford. His work has been published in leading journals and has received wide news coverage.
  • Dr Lilly Pijnenburg Muller is a Research Associate (Postdoctoral Research Fellow) in the War Studies department and co-chair of the Cybersecurity Research Group. She is a visiting research Fellow in the Science and Technology Studies Department at Cornell and a non-resident research Fellow at the Cornell Brooks Tech Policy Institute. Dr. Muller has published widely on topics related to cybersecurity, technology and global politics.

At this event

Lilly Pijnenburg Muller

Research Associate (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)