MOSCOW—Russia’s military laid out what is now seen as a blueprint for cyberwarfare with a 2013 article in a professional journal by Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the chief of Russia’s General Staff.

Cyberspace, wrote Gen. Gerasimov, “opens wide asymmetrical possibilities for reducing the fighting potential of the enemy.”

At the time, Russia’s military was absorbing the lessons of the Arab Spring, when social media played a key role in mobilizing leaderless protests that upended the political order across North Africa and the Middle East.

“In North Africa, we witnessed the use of technologies for influencing state structures and the population with the help of information networks,” the article stated. “It is necessary to perfect activities in the information space, including the defense of our own objects.”

Now that doctrine is likely to come under more scrutiny following new U.S. sanctions that target Russia’s military intelligence agency, the Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, as well as the country’s Federal Security Service, the successor to the Soviet-era KGB.

The Obama administration accused Russia’s intelligence agencies of “tampering, altering or causing the misappropriation of information” with the goal of interfering with the 2016 presidential election. And the U.S. Treasury Department named a number of companies it alleged were linked to the hack, shedding new light on the links between the Russian military and security services and the country’s IT sector.

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Featured image courtesy of ABC News.