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Terrorist organizations as hybrid actors of the international political process: a new challenge to the transatlantic community

Krivov Sergei Valer'evich

PhD in History

Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Lobachevsky Nizhny Novgorod State University Senior Researcher of the International Interdisciplinary Laboratory "Study of World and Regional Socio-Political Processes" of the Nizhny Novgorod State Linguistic University named after N.A. Dobrolyubov

603000, Russia, Nizhegorodskaya oblast', g. Nizhnii Novgorod, ul. Gagarina, 23, of. 307

skrivov@rambler.ru
Other publications by this author
 

 
Baranova Tat'yana Vladimirovna

Assistant, the department of Political Science, Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod

603005, Russia, Nizhny Novgorod, Ulyanova str., 1, office 307

sky-ellize@yandex.ru
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Starkin Sergey Valer'evich

Doctor of Politics

Professor, the department of Political Science, Institute of International Relations and World History of Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod; Leading Scientific Associate, International Interdisciplinary Laboratory "Study of Global and Regional Socio-Political Processes", N. A. Dobrolyubov State Linguistic University of Nizhny Novgorod

603000, Russia, g. Nizhnii Novgorod, ul. Ul'yanova, 1, kab. 307

starkinserge@mail.ru
Other publications by this author
 

 
Rakhmanov Nikita Vladimirovich

Competitor, Department of Political Science, Nizhny Novgorod State University

603000, Russia, Nizhny Novgorod, Ulyanova str., 3, office 312

nikit.rahmanov@yandex.ru

DOI:

10.7256/2454-0641.2022.2.37278

EDN:

ETYGNU

Received:

10-01-2022


Published:

05-08-2022


Abstract: The subject of the study is to identify the place and role of terrorist organizations in the system of international relations and global security from the point of view of strategic approaches of the Western expert-analytical community and official political institutions of nation states, the EU and NATO. Globalization, the growing influence of non-State actors, including armed groups, as well as changing views on the nature and essence of the State have contributed to the hidden or explicit subjectivization of many participants in the international political process. Special attention is paid in the article to the new concept of "hybrid actor", which is widely discussed among experts and scientists at the present time. For the first time, the paper attempts to compare the positions of the United States and its European allies on interaction with hybrid actors. Thus, in recent decades, non-State actors have evolved in terms of political, social and military capabilities. This trend is evident in the Middle East and North Africa region, where the combination of weak State institutions, the presence of conflicts and instability has provided fertile ground for the actions of armed groups. Non-State armed groups in the Middle East are extremely diverse and include local, tribal and communal formations, transnational criminal organizations and networks, classic rebel opposition groups and so on. Within this broad category, a number of non-State armed groups have evolved to perform political, social and managerial functions.


Keywords:

hybrid actor, General Security Policy, NATO, European Union, EU Global Strategy, national security, hybrid threats, expert community, HAMAS, quasi - states

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

Introduction

The reinterpretation of the basic concepts and concepts around which world politics has traditionally been built has recently acquired great importance in research on international relations. Although attempts to revise issues such as national sovereignty, human rights, climate change, humanitarian aid, and control over the distribution of natural resources are not new in themselves, their global nature has become a real challenge for the academic and expert community. This is largely due to the fact that the so-called liberal international order and the unconditional leadership of the West are increasingly being questioned by the "new centers of power". There is also an obvious "parallel shift from the dominance of the state as the main international actor to the growing importance and influence of non-state actors and transnational organizations"[1]. While the policy of the great powers has become more multipolar, diplomacy in the 21st century requires interaction with various "new partial, pseudo- and quasi-state actors that may be even more legitimate than states in a broader international political context" [2].

However, despite the increasingly recognized global danger of terrorism, there is no universally recognized approach to defining this phenomenon, nor is there any internal consensus on this issue among government agencies in different countries of the world. This, in turn, hinders the development of domestic and international legal frameworks and conventions necessary to manage a range of threats from terrorist organizations. At the doctrinal level, the US and EU countries have begun to recognize new international challenges, including the multiplicity of actors involved, united by the common concept of "hybrid threats". So, in the framework ofThe European Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) recognizes that the EU is part of an increasingly complex world consisting of "state, non-state, interstate and transnational actors" [3]. In the same context, the European Commission in 2019 emphasized the need to become a more active player in the international arena, and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrel, announced that the European Union "must learn to use the language of force to cope with external competition and crises"[4]. In US security policy, at least at the expert and analytical level, the "4 +1" formula developed by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff D. Dunford to identify the main threats to US national security has become widespread. As such, she considered China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, as well as the threat of violent extremism and terrorism [5]. And inThe Biden administration's interim national security strategy lists exactly the same threats, and in the same order [6].

However, despite the universal recognition of terrorism as the main threat to humanity, in practice there are disagreements regarding the recognition of certain organizations as terrorist. In addition, there is an understanding that in the context of the transformation of the system of international relations, there is a gradual subjectivization of non-state international actors, which puts on the agenda the development of mechanisms for interaction with them, at least in the short and medium term. This article examines the conceptual approaches that exist in the United States and EU countries in relation to non-state armed groups, including organizations listed as terrorist, within the framework of the concept of "hybrid actors".

Hybrid actors: problem statement

Montevideo Convention of 1933 as one of the fundamental documents in modern international law, it defines a state as any entity with a permanent population, a certain territory, a government and the ability to enter into relations with other states, which proceeds from its Weberian understanding as a stable territorial entity controlled by the central government and having a monopoly on legal means of violence [7]. Subsequently, M. Mann added to these characteristics the presence of infrastructural power as "a relationship of cooperation between the state and society" [8], and Ch. Tilly the possibility of joining the war, eliminating internal strife, protecting the population and collecting taxes [9].

The gradual departure from the Weberian model meant a revision of the role of States as international political actors and paid more attention to the role of non-State actors, including transnational corporations, non-governmental organizations and intergovernmental institutions with which States regularly cooperate and sometimes compete. The role of non-State armed groups (NSAG) operating outside the control of the State and relying on "violence and force, including non-traditional and asymmetric ways to achieve their goals" has especially increased [10]. The spectrum of such groups is wide: they include militias, rebels, terrorist organizations. This list can be conceptually expanded to include criminal communities as well. In practice, there are difficulties with assigning a number of actors to one or another category. For example, subjects challenging the State's monopoly on violence can coexist and even compete with the State as powerful subjects. There is also the question of the status of the population living in the territory controlled by such armed groups. Thus, the declaration by the Ukrainian authorities of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics as terrorist organizations inevitably generates legal and political consequences for the population of the unrecognized republics: they can be considered either as "hostages" or as members of these organizations. The term "unrecognized State" or "quasi-State" also contains limitations in terms of the hidden legitimization of the subjects under consideration, which may contradict the regulatory requirements of national States on the prohibition and non-recognition of terrorism.

Thus, there was a need for a conceptual rethinking of both the problem itself and the terminological apparatus associated with it. The concept of "hybrid actors", which has recently become widespread, refers to the totality of subjects of modern international relations, which are both state and non-state entities. T. Kambanis, having introduced this concept into scientific circulation in relation to Middle Eastern realities, defines it as "paramilitary structures with the ability to ensure security and provide social services to their population"[11]. They are not recognized internationally as State actors, but their capabilities correspond to the functional concepts of statehood. These actors can operate within the State or even as part of the State or its Government, but they can also function outside their framework, in parallel or in competition with them.

In the Russian scientific and expert community, the concept of "radical subjects of international relations" has been established in the works of T.A. Shakleina [12], M.M.Lebedeva [13], E.M. Primakov [14], A.I. Podberezkin [15] and a number of others. At the same time, the concept of a "hybrid actor", as well as a "hybrid threat", has not been reflected in the domestic academic discourse, which is due to other theoretical and methodological approaches, as well as a negative perception of the similar-sounding concept of "hybrid war", which has received an anti-Russian propaganda sound in the context of Western assessments of Russia's policy towards neighboring states, including Ukraine, Georgia and the Baltic States.

However, a new conceptualization is necessary because it takes the discussion beyond the "State or non-State actor" dichotomy present in most studies on international relations. Such a contrast causes difficulties, first of all, in relation to the countries of the Middle East, where the difference between State and non-State actors is considered by many researchers as not obvious, especially in those areas where the legitimacy and capabilities of States have been compromised. B. Berti explains how "the different roles of these groups as alternative actors de facto blur the line between state and non-state actors and create a situation that simultaneously challenges, challenges and redefines concepts such as statehood and sovereignty" [16]. In addition, this concept allows us not to focus exclusively on the "armed" or "violent" aspect of the activities of such entities.

Hybrid actors have become more visible both in the regional and global context, especially after the events of the Arab Spring, which contributed to the reduction of the potential of the States of the Middle East and North Africa due to internal unrest, regional conflicts and external interventions. As a result, "territories of limited statehood" [17] or "alternatively managed spaces" [18] have emerged, and new subjects often turn out to be more stable as carriers of real power and, as a rule, fill voids where state control is weakened or completely absent.

It is possible to identify new types of interaction between the state and non-state, or hybrid, actors. Thus, K. Kaush [19] points out that such cooperation has become the main instrument of foreign policy for regional and international powers in the Middle East. Marchetti and al-Zahrani note that, "following the general models of foreign policy hybridization widely practiced in global governance, the governments of the Middle East countries increasingly rely on partnerships with non-governmental actors, including hybrid actors" [20].

Thus, the concept of "hybrid actors" has become a new analytical category reflecting the more complex nature of the international political process and coexisting with a number of others: violent non-State actors, terrorist organizations, Islamist parties, resistance movements, etc. The concept of "hybrid actor", as a more "flexible" concept, is a counterweight to the categories which unlawfully reduce the definition of subjects to one specific feature or to political designations accompanied by normative biases, as, for example, in the case of the concept of "terrorist organization".

EU and US interests in relation to hybrid entities

When considering the three levels of foreign policy interests, strategies and actions of the United States and the European Union in relation to the Middle East region, as well as the diverse actors operating there, there is a significant overlap of positions at each level. Thus, both sides declare support for the same principles, such as the promotion of democracy and the rule of law, support for human rights and open societies, which may include the empowerment of non-violent non-State actors (non-governmental organizations), as well as their involvement in the peaceful settlement process.

Nevertheless, there is a tendency to give priority to narrower interests in relation to certain countries, for example, the United States in Egypt or the EU in Morocco. A general shift in global priorities is also important. For American politicians and experts, China and the Indo-Pacific region are increasingly perceived as the main strategic priority, which represents a significant departure from the idea of a "global NATO" of the 2000s associated with terrorism and instability in the global South, especially in the Middle East region. Immediately after the end of the Cold war and after the terrorist act of 9/11, the collapse of states and humanitarian crises were seen not only as posing direct and serious threats to allies, but also as a basis for military interventions outside the territories of NATO countries. Today, these issues have lost their significance in the United States, which is partly due to the reassessment of the terrorist threat that the United States faces. Some experts even note that "jihad-related terrorism" seems to be "on the decline" and that estimates of the terrorist threat have been "overestimated" [21]. However, there are also those who consider it necessary to warn that the terrorist threat is "not over" [22]. In general, interest in many phenomena of Middle Eastern politics, including the activity of hybrid actors, has significantly decreased. Both conservative and liberal observers and researchers argue that past foreign missions aimed at eradicating terrorism, protecting civilians and establishing lasting stability in the key region of the Middle East have largely failed, and US interests in the region, including the fight against terrorism, can be achieved by conventional diplomatic means or even military operations.. It is noteworthy that against this background, the Biden administration's announcement of a complete withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan by September 2021 did not come as a surprise and was even supported by most experts. According to B. Stapleton, the Alliance "cannot allow external operations to divert attention and resources from its main mission" [23], and L. Coffey and D. Kochis fromThe Heritage Foundation believes that "NATO should not be everywhere, doing everything and becoming a global counter-terrorism force or the main instrument of the West for the delivery of humanitarian aid" [24]. Moreover, in the Mediterranean region, including Libya and possibly Syria, it is NATO's European members who should be ready to take the initiative in potential missions, as the United States refocuses on internal problems and directs more resources to the Asia-Pacific region.

Prospects for strategic transatlantic rapprochement with regard to hybrid actors

Within the framework ofUS National Security Strategy 2015 [25] andThe EU Global Strategy 2016 [26] clearly seeks to work with non-state actors in many areas. The main rationale for such cooperation is to increase social sustainability by including civil society actors in the international political process. However, transatlantic policy coordination does not represent any common political approach. Moreover, Western politicians have repeatedly noted that they prefer stability to democratic changes [27].

This was especially evident in the example of the EU's policy towards the Palestinian organization Hamas. Despite the fact that the European Union added Hamas to its list of terrorist organizations in 2003, it supported the 2006 Palestinian elections, noting that they were transparent and democratic. However, the EU leadership could not accept the result when Hamas won in Gaza, and together with the United States, Russia and the UN put forward clearly impossible conditions, including unconditional recognition of the State of Israel, the conclusion of diplomatic agreements with it and a complete rejection of violence. In fact, the EU's reaction to the Hamas victory clearly contrasts with its regulatory policy in the countries of the Southern Neighborhood, focused on promoting democracy. Since then, many observers have been trying to explain the reasons and consequences of this contradictory political position towards Hamas, since the EU's disregard for its democratic legitimacy determines the relationship of Europeans with the leading Palestinian party [28]. The same ambivalence took place regarding the assessment of Hezbollah's role in the Lebanese political process. Unlike Hamas, it is regarded by the EU as having a legal "political wing", while its "military wing" was included by the Europeans in the list of terrorist organizations in 2013. At the same time, Hezbollah is hierarchically more structured and organized and controls its military structures to a greater extent. With regard to tactics, Hezbollah does not seek, unlike Hamas, an absolute electoral victory, but secures its position in the government through political alliances and pre-election agreements. Although, as Seeberg notes, "the EU in practice recognizes the informal political environment of Lebanon and takes a pragmatic approach to the political practices carried out here, and Hezbollah as an integral component of the Lebanese political system and a participant in the political dialogue," however, EU structures still "have difficulties with such an entity as Hezbollah" [29].

Such a strategy reflects not so much political short-sightedness as the EU's propensity for an interstate format of relations, even if it means working with autocratic regimes. While the US often shows great flexibility and pragmatism by supporting new non-state actors, both from among civilian and armed groups in autocratic states, the EU's foreign relations are structured much more firmly in accordance with interstate lines. Despite repeated declarative promises regarding more systematic involvement of civil society, the EU remains extremely cautious about working with non-State actors abroad, especially when this is at odds with its obligations towards the official government.

As for actions on the ground, many analysts note the lack of coordination of efforts between the EU and the United States outside the territories of the participating countries. So, if in the Ukrainian crisis Europe and the United States coordinated their actions because of the "Russian factor", making its containment a common key priority, then in relation to Egypt, on the contrary, there is no such coordination. Even the 2015 Iran deal, which is often called a transatlantic success, is an example of a very difficult reconciliation of positions on both sides of the Atlantic, and the prospects for its continuation under the new US administration are becoming more and more vague. In addition to the general lack of transatlantic policy coordination, conceptual differences between partners when it comes to the meaning of democratization or specific tools, such as harnessing the potential of civil society actors, create additional obstacles to closer cooperation.

Both the US and some EU member States provide direct support to armed non-State actors, such as militias and rebel groups, in ongoing conflicts, especially in Syria and Iraq. At the same time, in Syria, the United States continues to interact with the "moderate", non-Islamist opposition, while France and the United Kingdom are launching air strikes against ISIS. In Iraq, Washington supported the central government, including sending military advisers to the conflict zone and the direct participation of the US military in the liberation of Mosul, while Berlin supplies weapons to the Kurdish paramilitary formation.Peshmerga(Pmerge) in the north of the country.

In addition, relations within the EU between member States also complicate its cooperation with non-State actors abroad. The 27 EU member States maintain their own foreign policy towards third countries, albeit within the framework of a common strategy, but with greater freedom of action with respect to individual international actors. This regularly leads to intra-European clashes over countries with which some member States have special relations. For example, in Libya, various groups and clans competing for power offer EU member States such as France, Italy and the United Kingdom, along with other regional powers such as the United States, Turkey, Egypt, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, opportunities to influence a potential post-conflict order on their own terms. However, the conditions and interests of these various foreign Powers mostly contradict each other, fueling instability in Libya through political, military and/or logistical support of various actors on the ground.

Finally, in addition to structural and internal political constraints and problems on the ground, the potential of US and EU policy is limited by a number of serious distractions. Over the past decade, the EU has faced intense internal crises, from fiscal instability to the influx of migration and the issue of Brexit. The United States, on the contrary, is going through a period that, under President Trump, in fact, turned into outright isolationism combined with aggressive outbursts. Against this background, it should be expected that both sides of the Atlantic will focus on "quick solutions" to tangible threats, neglecting long-term problems. The question will be whether this will help or hinder conflict resolution and State-building in a region that desperately needs both. When it comes to conflict resolution, transatlantic partners must restrain radical opponents of the state order. With regard to State-building, they should encourage those non-violent non-State actors who can challenge the existing (undemocratic) order, but are crucial to establishing a more pluralistic State structure. What the West can and should continue to offer are educational opportunities, liberal visa rules, and sufficient protection for those fleeing conflict and persecution.

Conclusion

Thus, in recent decades, non-State actors have evolved in terms of political, social and military capabilities. This trend is evident in the Middle East and North Africa region, where the combination of weak State institutions, the presence of conflicts and instability has provided fertile ground for the actions of armed groups. Non-State armed groups in the Middle East are extremely diverse and include local, tribal and community formations, transnational criminal organizations and networks, classic rebel opposition groups and so on. Within this broad category, a number of non-State armed groups have evolved to perform political, social and managerial functions.

Given the challenges that States face at the conceptual level, transatlantic partners could work hand in hand to empower constructive non-State actors by supporting democratic development and State-building, as well as preventing the decline of State power in the Middle East in the interests of violent non-State spoilers in conflict resolution. To date, the difficulties of the United States and European countries in agreeing on common approaches to responding to the growth of non-state actors and their interaction with the region depend on at least three factors. First, the United States and the European Union have proved structurally incapable of jointly developing strategies for global challenges in the past. Secondly, the so-called "stability syndrome", that is, the preference for a "stable" status quo over unpredictable risks of political change, is still the dominant thinking for politicians on both sides of the Atlantic when developing policies for the Middle East and North Africa region. Thirdly, transatlantic partners have serious distractions, such as Brexit, the growth of populist parties, the immigration problem, which hinder their ability to adequately respond to challenges from the region.

The research was carried out with the financial support of the RFBR in the framework of the scientific project No. 20-011-00666 "Integration processes in Europe: a comparative analysis".

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First Peer Review

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This article is devoted to the analysis of the role of non-state actors in the structure of modern world politics, which carry a destructive function aimed at destroying a stable and well-established system of international relations. The study of the phenomenon of terrorism from the point of view of its global spread has recently become a topos of social and socio-political sciences, however, until recently, terrorist organizations were considered exclusively as illegal formations or criminal elements that operate within national states and cannot in any way claim to be independent and independent subjects in interaction with world powers and international political organizations. organizations. However, recent events in the Middle East (the active activities of the banned terrorist organization Islamic State in some Arab countries), the coming to power of the Taliban movement banned in the territory of the Russian Federation in Afghanistan indicate that movements based on mass terror and the use of weapons against civilians are regaining strength in world politics. In this regard, the presented research is very relevant and allows us to form a comprehensive understanding of the so-called "hybrid" actors in modern international politics and interstate relations. The article is very well structured and represents a study of a multimethodological nature, which is based on a well-developed theoretical framework. The author identifies the main trends within the emerging non-state actors of a terrorist orientation, and also analyzes the concepts of counteraction from the Transatlantic Alliance. The introduction of new conceptual foundations into the theory of modern international relations makes this publication significant not only from a scientific and theoretical point of view, but also from a practical point of view. The bibliographic list is represented by a large number of modern sources, both fundamental and applied, and scientific works in English are actively used. In general, the list of references adequately reflects the identified research issues, reveals certain aspects of current problems of international policy in the field of global security. However, there are technical shortcomings that must be eliminated before the publication of the article - there are no gaps between words in the text in some sentences - this spoils the overall impression and perception of the material, it is necessary to carefully check the manuscript for technical and stylistic errors. Also, the author would do well to make greater use of statistical data from world analytical centers, which indicate the spread of terrorist phenomena in the world and highlight some correlations in connection with global liberal ideology. The article needs to be finalized and sent for review again. The role of the European Union and individual States such as France and Germany (their active participation in international peacekeeping) as a factor of opposition to hybrid actors, it is poorly disclosed in this publication.

Second Peer Review

Peer reviewers' evaluations remain confidential and are not disclosed to the public. Only external reviews, authorized for publication by the article's author(s), are made public. Typically, these final reviews are conducted after the manuscript's revision. Adhering to our double-blind review policy, the reviewer's identity is kept confidential.
The list of publisher reviewers can be found here.

The article is devoted to the study of the topic of the conceptual shift that has occurred in world politics in connection with the increasing activation and spread of non-state paramilitary groups, which have an increasing influence on the international political process, competing in this influence with state actors. Thus, the relevance of the topic chosen by the author is beyond doubt. The methodology is quite traditional for this kind of research and is based on a conceptual analysis of the main approaches to studying the problem of non-state military organizations, national security concepts, as well as interstate documents. In addition, an institutional approach is used to analyze the basic rules governing the activities of non-state formations, as well as the policy of the United States and the EU in relation to these actors. The advantages of the work include the following. The article is well structured. The following blocks are highlighted in the text: introduction, problem statement, analysis of the interests of the EU and the United States in relation to hybrid entities, description of the prospects for strategic transatlantic rapprochement in relation to these entities, and conclusion. In the Introduction, the author rightly points out several key points of modern world politics that actualize the topic to which the study is devoted: - the changing role of the state in the global political process, which, as new non-state players become more and more multipolar; - the lack of consensus on the global problem of international terrorism and related concepts of national security - differences in assessments of non-State armed formations and the related problem of criteria for identifying these formations as terrorist. In this context, the problem and objectives of the study are posed: the need to rethink the categorical apparatus of international relations, and above all, to include in this apparatus the category of "hybrid actor" introduced by T. Kambanis in order to describe the realities of the Middle East. In solving this problem, the author analyzes the existing concepts of "non-state armed groups" (P. Berti), "radical subjects of international relations" (T.A. Shakleina, M.M. Lebedeva, E.M. Primakov, A.I. Podberezkina, etc.), "violent non-state actors" and other terms in which the scientific community tried to grasp and to describe the specified phenomenon. As a result of the critical analysis, the author comes to the fair conclusion that the concept of "hybrid actor" is more adequate in relation to the described phenomenon, since this concept reflects the complex and multidimensional nature of the modern international political process, and at the same time is quite neutral in terms of values. In the following two sections, "The interests of the EU and the United States in relation to hybrid actors" and "Prospects for strategic transatlantic rapprochement in relation to hybrid actors", the author demonstrates the heuristic potential of the proposed concept by analyzing the interests and actions of the EU and the United States in relation to armed non-state actors operating in the Middle East region, over whose terrorist status disagreements arise, such as "Hamas, Hezbollah or the Peshmerga. The author rightly notes a more pragmatic attitude towards such organizations on the part of the United States, which often provides direct support to these formations, while the EU classifies them as terrorist and refuses to deal with them. A more value-neutral concept of "hybrid actors" would make it possible to solve many value problems of world politics. Presenting the results of the study in the "Conclusion", the author rightly points out the complexity and ambiguity of the phenomenon under study, while noting the significant evolution of this phenomenon in recent decades: non-state armed groups in the Middle East and North Africa have recently assumed a number of tasks previously attributed exclusively to states, such as managerial, social and even political functions. Therefore, the flat categories "terrorist/non-terrorist", "state/non-state", etc. stop working when studying these formations. It is necessary, as the author notes, to conceptually bring together the positions of the United States and the EU in relation to hybrid actors and coordinate common approaches to responding to their proliferation. These conclusions of the author have all the signs of scientific novelty. Equally interesting is the description of three factors that determine the prospects for strategic transatlantic rapprochement between the United States and the EU in relation to hybrid actors: solving conceptual differences, overcoming the "stability syndrome" and minimizing distractions like Brexit, the growth of populism in Europe, immigration problems, etc. In general, based on the results of the review, the following conclusions can be drawn. The style of the work is scientific in nature, it is written in good language and has practically no spelling errors. The article is well structured, and the author's conclusions are reliable and have signs of scientific novelty. The conclusions correspond to the tasks set. The bibliography includes 29 sources, including in foreign languages, and sufficiently represents the state of research on the problem considered in the article. The appeal to the opponents takes place in terms of discussing the problem of identification and conceptual description of hybrid actors in international politics. Among some disadvantages, one can note the disproportionality of the sections highlighted in the text (the chapter "Interests of the EU and the USA in relation to hybrid subjects" is two to three times smaller than the other sections; and from a logical point of view, the allocation of this chapter was hardly justified), the lack of a clear description of the subject, object and methodology of the study, as well as some The "blurring" of the conclusions. However, these shortcomings are insignificant and do not affect the overall positive assessment of the article. General conclusion: the article submitted for review corresponds to the subject and basic requirements of the journal "International Relations", is of undoubted interest to the readership of this journal and is recommended for publication.