Ebook: Countering Hybrid Threats: Lessons Learned from Ukraine
The Ukrainian conflict has come to be considered as the most serious geopolitical crisis in Central and Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War. Its implications extend well beyond the borders of Ukraine, and its impact on the security of the wider Black Sea region is, as yet, neither contained nor fully understood.
This book contains 28 articles on the topic of hybrid warfare and related threats, delivered at the NATO Advanced Research Workshop (ARW) 'Countering Hybrid Threats: Lessons Learned from Ukraine', held in Bucharest, Romania, in September 2015. This event brought together 50 experts from different fields and perspectives, including policymakers, security and intelligence practitioners, and academics. The presentations explored the nature of the Ukrainian conflict and the dynamic evolution of current security threats in Central and Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region with the aim of identifying the key drivers of the conflict and exploring the most efficient instruments and methods for conflict resolution. The book is divided into four sections entitled: challenges of hybrid warfare: multiple perspectives; hybrid war – an old concept with an extensive dimension; counteracting hybrid threats: lessons learned from Ukraine; and finally, the implications of the Ukrainian conflict for regional and Euro-Atlantic security.
The book provides a timely reflection on recent events and will be of interest to all those wishing to improve their understanding of hybrid warfare and conflict resolution.
The Ukrainian conflict has come to be considered the most serious geopolitical crisis in Central and Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War. Its implications go well beyond the borders of Ukraine and its impact for the security of the wider Black Sea region are yet to be contained and understood.
Events unfolding in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine have been interpreted by many security studies experts as signs of an emerging 21st century conflict – one that challenges the traditional Western perception of war and demands a re-evaluation of the way we interpret both conflict and conflict resolution. It is in this framework that the proceedings of the NATO Advanced Research Workshop, Countering Hybrid Threats: Lessons Learned from Ukraine has come to life. The workshop was jointly organized by the “Mihai Viteazul” National Intelligence Academy and the “Bogdan Intemeietorul Moldovei” National Institute for Intelligence and Security, from the Republic of Moldova, under the framework of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Program. It was held in Bucharest, Romania, in September 2015.
The event brought together 50 experts from different fields and perspectives, including policy-makers, security and intelligence practitioners, academia and high ranking officials and experts. The two-day workshop included four keynote speakers' interventions and five panels with presentations and open debates on topics related to the nature of the Ukrainian conflict, the dynamic evolution of the current security threats in Central and Eastern Europe as well as the Black Sea Region. Implications of emerging threats for state and non-state actors were specifically approached, with the North Atlantic Organization at the forefront of these debates. The participants embraced the mission to create an authentic platform to share knowledge, generate a better understanding and a better vision in approaching security challenges.
The book contains 28 articles on the topic of hybrid warfare and related threats, special focus being placed on the challenges political instability and security threats produce in Ukraine and beyond. Authors' contributions touched a series of key topics, extensively discussed during the workshop and later on developed into the four parts of the volume. The contributions are centered on identifying the key drivers of the Ukrainian conflict as well as the most efficient instruments and methods for conflict resolution in order to: better grasp the novelty and scale of the conflict; analyze the potential future implications on regional and Euro-Atlantic security; understand what the further expansion of pro-Russian demands in the region would entail for Euro-Atlantic security at large; and understanding the operational pattern of the Ukrainian conflict.
The first part, The challenges of hybrid warfare: multiple perspectives, addresses the need to provide an accurate definition to the term ‘hybrid war’ and inquiries into whether the Russian-Ukrainian case represents indeed the manifestation of a new form of conflict. In order to understand the challenge from both a conceptual and a methodological point of view, the definition of hybrid warfare has been addressed at length. In this context, in the first part of the volume, several definitions were mentioned and multiple perspectives included, with the contributions of: Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, Florian Coldea, Cristian Eremia and Radu Podgorean. Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, NATO Assistant Secretary General, and Emerging Challenges Division, presents NATO's strategy to counter hybrid warfare, observing the fact that it is based on three interrelated principles: detect, defend, deter. At the same time, Florian Coldea, First Deputy Director of the Romanian Intelligence Service, addresses in his contribution, from a pragmatic and action oriented perspective, the new way to exert power: ‘make use of the hybrid tools’.
The second part of the volume, Hybrid war – an old concept with an extensive dimension, includes contributions focusing on the extensive dimension of the hybrid war concept from authors such as: Todor Tagarev, Iulian Chifu, Costinel Anuţa, Sergiu Medar, Daniela Mitu, Valentin Stoian, Joel Shapiro, Polychronis Nalmpantis. Papers converge on a definition of hybrid war as a coordinated strategy, planned and organized by a central authority, employing both conventional and non-conventional means with the aim of achieving a strategic objective. Correspondingly, the idea of hybrid threat is defined as the intention of an actor, who also possesses the capability to employ these means against another.
Experts contributing to the third part of the volume entitled Counteracting hybrid threats: lessons learned from Ukraine, include: Maria Proca, Rupali Jeswal, Sergei Konoplyov and Alexander Urbanskiy, Florin Diaconu, Cristian Barna and Cosmin Dugan, Irina Malai, Mihaela Teodor and Bogdan-Alexandru Teodor, Natalia Albu. In this section of the book, the authors address the cross-border nature of regional conflicts and hybrid threats which imposes the need for cooperation in order to be able to draw up a joint action plan under the patronage of NATO for all Central and Eastern European states. Contributions seem to converge on the idea that the Russian-Ukrainian scenario is only a new, yet far more extensive manifestation of an old type of war. Furthermore, the authors conclude that the response to a hybrid threat must be contextualized and deployed in accordance with a certain pattern of manifestation and should engage relevant institutions and actors from a variety of domains, from the economic and political sector to the intelligence and diplomatic ones.
The implications of the Ukrainian conflict for Regional and Euro-Atlantic security is the topic tackled with in contributions included in the final part of the volume, signed by authors such as: Vladimir Socor, Vasile Simileanu and Cătălina Monica Muţu, Vitalie Ojog, Przemyslaw Furgacz, Oazu Nantoi, Roman Chirtoagă, Roman Mihăeş, Silviu Nate. In this final part of the proceedings, regional security is addressed as a precondition to building a stable perimeter by countering risks, vulnerabilities and hybrid threats alike. Areas associated with cyber-attacks, the use of CBRN agents, ethnic conflicts, terrorism, illegal migration and organized crime are approached to a great extent. Authors conclude that given the geographical proximity and the long history of political tensions between states from Central and Eastern Europe, states from the Black Sea region and the Russian Federation, concerns expressed by countries in the region towards the Russian expansionist plan are understandable and well framed; and so is their need to be reassured when it comes to NATO's collective defense resolve. Furthermore, all contributions to this volume show that the complexity of the Ukrainian conflict requires the use of a multidimensional perspective, from the academic to the very pragmatic.
Therefore, I strongly believe the publication of this volume of proceedings is a timely event. It gives us the opportunity to reflect with a keen look on recent events and their potential consequences not only inside, but also beyond the borders of Ukraine, the Black Sea Region or Europe for that matter. Therefore, it is our hope that the volume will facilitate a better and shared understanding of the central role played by improved cooperation between the various stakeholders at regional and international level in defusing the Ukrainian crisis as well as other hybrid threats plaguing the region.
While there are to date many relevant articles and studies devoted to the description of Hybrid Warfare (HW), these studies could be considered as being just convergent building blocks towards a comprehensive and generally accepted definition. In fact, so far there is no agreed definition of Hybrid Warfare within NATO taxonomy. The Allied discussion on HW has favored a pragmatic approach towards the recent manifestations of HW, based on a comprehensive description and analysis of the phenomenon, followed by the development of a relevant strategy, instead of engaging in a scholastic, conceptual effort of adopting agreed definitions. Hybrid warfare is supported through comprehensive hybrid strategies based on a broad, complex, adaptive and often highly integrated combination of conventional and unconventional means, overt and covert activities. Hybrid strategies can be applied by both state and non-state actors, through different models of engagement. These activities are performed by military, paramilitary, irregular and civilian actors, whose goals are political, geopolitical and strategic.
When speaking about Ukraine, the first word that comes to one's mind to describe the security threats is “hybrid”. We are analyzing the hybrid warfare, looking at all the nuances of the hybrid threats, and announcing a new way to exert power, i.e. making use of the hybrid tools. But if we are taking a breath and looking not so far in history, we realize that hybrid warfare is not really new: we have all seen before energy security used as a political weapon, conventional military maneuvers combined with powerful cyber-attacks and increased propaganda spread through new media. I believe that when we observe a disturbing pattern happening several times, although in various degrees of ampleness and coherence, we may rethink our previous responses and reconsider our past counter-actions. The purpose is a multi-faceted one: to better prepare ourselves, to be more pro-active, to extend a helping hand to our partners and to assume supporting measures, instead of reacting about countless breaches of international legal regulations.
The topic that we are to address is getting an increasing attention on both national and international arena. I believe that a good understanding of the complexity of the hybrid warfare or asymmetric threats, concepts that are currently used in covering almost all changes in the international security environment, contributes to a better coordination of efforts in countering them. I will try to underline main features of the hybrid warfare concept and to raise questions and possible approaches on this topic as possible food for thought for your debate.
Hybrid warfare is not new: I am sure that the events in Ukraine in March 2014 and how they developed leading to Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea were of no surprise to intelligence and security experts. However, the employment of hybrid warfare by Russia against Ukraine last year, as well as its manifestation in other forms as put forward by terrorist organizations like ISIL/Daesh across the Middle East, raises a number of issues when it comes to countering it, especially in an Allied setting and in a complex, interconnected world as we have today.
Hybrid Warfare is not a new phenomenon, but the use of the term is recent, and the concept came to the attention of European scholars, experts and policy makers with the start of the conflict in Crimea. At the high end of the spectrum of hybrid warfare tools is the military force. Hence, one rightfully expects to see commensurate military measures, reflected in national and allied defence policies. This chapter therefore takes a look first at the types of military capabilities and level of readiness necessary to counter hybrid warfare. It emphasizes the requirements for relatively light, highly maneuverable forces, capable to operate in urban environment and work with local communities, along with a capacity to achieve and maintain information and knowledge superiority and to repel an assault from the air or the sea. Then it calls for enhanced cooperation, coordination, and collaboration (C3) among multiple stakeholders that cover a spectrum well beyond the traditional remits of the security sector. Towards the provision of adequate capabilities and effective C3, the author emphasizes organizational agility and adaptiveness. The final section discusses the need to strengthen the integrity of defence organizations, thus limiting opponents' opportunities to influence the behavior of decision-makers and other defence personnel.
The hybrid warfare in Eastern Ukraine didn't appear suddenly, without a proper preparation in terms of military preparedness, recruiting, training, identifying local support and fundamental changes in the mood of the population. Everything has been put in place after a very clear long term propaganda and control of the public space, but especially based on a well-established informational war developed in the region of Donbas and also at different levels in the whole of Ukraine. The difference in the region of Donetsk and Luhansk was is that it was a more targeted operation and the population had a higher degree of openness in absorbing this propaganda fitting with local beliefs, cultural background and level of education of the average population, including the presence of former members of the institutions present in the Soviet Union period. This capacity and possibility to replicate the change of the perception of a given targeted population, by inoculating a pre-determined narrative and alternative reality that fits in the plans of the aggressor, could be used for further developing the war inside Ukraine, especially in the larger region called Novorossia.
The use of strategies and tactics that might be labeled as hybrid, either by state or non-state actors caused a debate on the history and development of such approaches. While they are not entirely new, by comparing, for instance, the current Russian approach in this respect to its older versions, one might notice some elements of novelty. Starting with the 1920 concept of maskirovka and further building on the idea of information war or the well-known “active measures”, Moscow created an entire infrastructure designed to blur the lines between the states of war and peace, as General Valery Gherasimov, Russia's Chief of the General Staff, pointed out in an article in 2013. Furthermore, the rapid development of information technology offered new tools in support of a hybrid approach, including means for amplifying messaging and propaganda to unprecedented levels, far more difficult to counter without proper mechanisms.
Today's world conflicts have been diversified according with participants objectives. 4GW, Hybrid Warfare, Proxy Warfare, Lawfare and other types of wars a currently developing in different areas. These wars are theoretically clear but in practice there are differences of interpretation accordingly with combatants' intentions. All these wars have a common need to clarify not only objectives but to classify them according with a matrix. This common need is Intelligence. Planning, collection, analysis and dissemination of Intelligence is different from one type of war to another one. The presented paper try to underline how these actions must be effected according with which type of war.
The primary purpose of this paper is to identify both differences, and convergences between psychological, information, and hybrid warfare. Secondly, I will highlight the role of information within the hybrid warfare, analyzing the example provided by the conflict in Ukraine. There would be presented different components of this issue, with a focus on the information flow, traditional and social media campaigns. Finally, I will assess possible solutions that intelligence organizations could provide to these information challenges in order to counter hybrid warfare. In terms of methodology, I use the general principles of comparative and content analysis
While corruption and national security can intersect along several lines, the possible connections between the two concepts have not been properly addressed in the social science literature. The paper aims at an elaboration of these connections, by providing a conceptual analysis of the link between corruption and national security. The phenomenon of corruption is conceptualized as a security vulnerability, which is understood as an internal characteristic of the state, impeding it from properly responding to threats. After presenting a brief overview of how the phenomenon of corruption can affect different sectors of human activity and different facets of national security, the paper outlines the possible forms of corruption in the defense sector. It argues that this sector is potentially subject to corruption due to a number of specific characteristics and shows the corrupt practices identified by the literature on the issue. The paper concludes by presenting NATO's Building Integrity program as a potential solution to the issue of corruption in defense.
The military conflict in the east of Ukraine is a result of division of the Ukrainian society depending on the cultural influence of the milieu that has existed and evolved throughout the history, that of divergences of the Kiev political elite and the geopolitical interests in this area shown by the West (the EU and NATO) on one part, and by the Russian Federation on the other part. The military conflict in the East of Ukraine has started with the protest of the Ukrainian society against the governing elite when the latter refused to sign the EU Association Agreement (November 2013), but it became a determining one in the decline of the American unipolarity at the international arena in prefiguration of the European security and demonstration of influence of the Russian Federation in the post-Soviet space. If initially the internal political crisis that Ukraine has faced may be interpreted as a reaction of the society towards shifting of the national interest from the West to the East of the policy promoted by the president that was in office at that time, Victor Ianukovici, consequently this conflict has transformed for the young Ukrainian state in that of defending the whole territorial integrity.
A Battlespace perspective on the depth of hybrid warfare as seen in Ukraine, has a backdraft and also the butterfly effect. Hyper accelerated reengineering or reinventing is required on all levels, strategic, tactical and operational. Hybrid warfare can only evolve if no interventions are installed such is the nature of this dynamic system. Intelligence preparation of the battlefield rests on multirole in a multi-operational theatre which would incorporate all these factions: civil wars, army factions, quasi-military units, partisans with outside support, insurgents, militarized criminal gangs, grounds for violent extremist organizations, communal and commodity riots, overall - General Lawlessness. Hybrid wars don't just “pop-up” they are a product of long-term “play”. Russia has been employing not only the military Instrument of Power (IOP) of the modern state, but also the economic, informational, and diplomatic IOPs in its hybrid threat construct. The deployment of long-term efforts on to Ukraine through “gas wars” to food embargo (introduced and then lifted) was to weaken, the already weak economy and political system. Denial, Deception, Provocation & Rumors are part of hybrid war-gaming (keeping in mind the recent investigation by Novaya Gazeta states that Russia is controlling the flow of jihadist in to Syria.) “Bratstvo” wants the war in eastern Ukraine to be a religious war. Like all hybrid warfare spillovers, Ukrainians are dissatisfied with the new government, its broken institutions and endemic corruption. So the need to take advantage of the situation has led them to state, that this can only be solved, by creating a national elite composed of people determined to wage a sort of Ukrainian jihad against the Russians. Noble or not many factions globally are fighting for “their” cause against “their” evil – affecting geopolitics, global security, and international relations and tearing the fabric of humanity. Forging a new consensus on a division of power and resources is a huge challenge and failure tends to lead to renewed strife giving the crisis another new complex face. Hybrid warfare has a successive cycle spanning borders. Being cognizant of what actions are taken today will determine the course of tomorrow.
In 2014, Russia's actions in Ukraine were based on the concept of “hybrid war” which is - from the structural and functional points of view - unique in many ways. The form of war is “hybrid” however the content is “asymmetric,” which means: war between belligerents whose relative military power and strategies/tactics differ significantly. Most clearly the nature of this type of war was demonstrated by the annexation of Crimea. Later this intervention was followed by Russian support to local radical elements in Donbass and a full-scale invasion of Russian troops in Eastern regions of Ukraine, which the Kremlin still doesn't acknowledge. Although the nature of each specific element of this “hybrid war” is not new and has been used in almost all the wars of the past, what is unique is the coherence and interplay of all elements, the dynamism and flexibility of their use and the paramount importance of the information factor. Moreover, the information factor became an independent component of its own and is no less important than military actions. Moscow's intervention in Ukraine has demonstrated that Western policymakers from EU and NATO need to take these factors into account when crafting new concepts and re-examining existing strategies aimed to maintain the European borders unchanged and secure.
Events unfolding in Ukraine starting with early spring of 2014 are teaching us several important lessons, significant for different types of target groups/ audiences. First of all, an obviously not at all comfortable lesson directly connected to major risks and threats generated for NATO by both severe analytical plus political errors and what we usually call ‘wishful thinking’. Another lesson is that deterrence still is, even if implemented by using limited means, a very potent military and, above all, political and /or strategic tool. A third major lesson is one connected in several ways to various popular reactions generated by the Russian open – or almost open – aggression in the Eastern Ukraine. The ability of both the average citizen and the senior policy-maker in the Western world to learn as much as possible from all these lessons is vital, we think, for the long-term dynamics and effectiveness of NATO.
The goal of the paper is to establish to what extent military neuroscience plays a part (or can be used to explain some features) in the designing of the irregular (hybrid) warfare. Using the Eastern border of Ukraine and the Crimea crisis as the object of study, we question three facets of this type of confrontation. First, tailored propaganda that synergically combined classical themes with more advanced neuromarketing-like features, persistently targeting different features of memories (real, idealized history, recycled themes from old soviet propaganda) from multiple media channels – TV, radio, social media – and by highlighting the efforts to strengthen Russian collective identity. The second issue brought into discussion refers to the manipulation of medical infrastructure, including the medical staff, facilities, drugs, knowledge of medical data (including general and targeted behavioral data - psychological, psychiatrical, neurological and endocrinological) etc., as a means to consolidate the control over civilian population, spreading false medical rumors, demonizing the opponent and creating data collection and influence networks. The last feature is probably the most important and controversial – the use of psychotropic substances or more advanced forms of psychological control combined with other means of manipulating external motivation (money, rewards, blackmail, citizenship, ideology, political and economic privileges, etc.) by unconscripted individuals – “national rebels” (difficult to distinguish from mercenaries, delinquents, social outcasts, mentally ill) involved in a decentralized low intensity conflict, an intrinsic feature of irregular warfare. In the end, one of our conclusion is that the changing shape of the mind-based dimension (“psychosphere”) of future wars should have an adequate response in developing the medical intelligence studies, and especially the military neuroscience branch.
Ukraine's lack of preparedness to oppose Russia's “hybrid aggression” as well as Russia's official denial of its military participation in the conflict allowed the Kremlin to control the initiative up to a particular point. Therefore, the Ukrainian Parliament's decision to launch a counter terrorist operation on the territories, taken under control by the separatists, was a logical step. At the same time, despite the fact that the warfare acquired the character of a local armed conflict and direct military interference on the part of Russia became obvious (use of heavy artillery from the Russian territory, border crossings by the units of the Armed Forces of RF, etc.),the Ukrainian government did not declare martial law.
October is the European Cyber Security Month (ECSM), a European Union advocacy campaign which aims to promote cyber security among citizens, to change their perception of cyber-threats and provide up to date security information, through education and sharing good practices. In this respect we may contribute to the EU's campaign with a research paper on cyber threats. The year 2014 has brought big news, significant changes and remarkable successes in the cyber-threat landscape. Experts and media correspondents have stated that the crisis in Ukraine was the largest cyber-war battlefield since Russia's cyber-attacks on Estonia in 2007 and Georgia in 2008. The aim of this study is to analyze the use of cyber threats in the wider context of hybrid warfare, with focus on the Ukrainian case, in order to emphasize the lessons learned and the importance of cooperation in cyber security and defence area.
The crisis in Ukraine has influenced the way in which the security options of the Republic of Moldova are analyzed. On the other hand, this phenomenon determined an increased interest from the European structures towards the Republic of Moldova. These two aspects of the crisis from Ukraine reflect the uncertainty persisting in the Moldovan society related to the security of the territory under the State border. It should be mentioned that the crisis in Ukraine determined a retreatment reaction on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Moldova, which came back to a reactive and defensive behavior in relation to Russia. At the same time, such a reaction led to the resuscitation of some pro-NATO attitudes expressed during the election campaign (autumn 2014) by the liberal parties. This behavior also reflects an old cleavage from the Republic of Moldova – the neutrality adepts versus those who support the joining of the country to the North-Atlantic Alliance. In this context, this article will assess the main trends in the security system of the Republic of Moldova from the perspective of the Ukrainian crisis consequences. And finally, we cannot neglect the fact that the Republic of Moldova – a state with profound vulnerabilities in the area of security and defense – should be concerned more than ever with the assessment of the alternatives existing for ensuring its own security. Unfortunately, the political instability, but mainly the lack of will, courage, and vision among the ruling parties, has determined the lack of any progress in the area related to enhancing the capacities of the country in the area of security and defense.
Hybrid warfare is actually nothing new, despite the fact that observers were initially surprised at the coordinated and disciplined political-military approach that encompassed Russia's forays in Crimea in 2014. The year before, General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the Russian General Staff, noted in an article that, “Methods used in struggle are increasingly changing in favor of political, economic, information, humanitarian and other non-military means, including the use of the protest potential of the population.” Russia's “hybrid” warfare is thus a mixture of unconventional acts (initially) short of war, secret operations backed by military force, and a major information warfare campaign, that also includes a cyber-warfare aspect. This approach will only work well in specific areas of the near abroad where ethnic Russians, or possible proxies, live. It also worked best in specific Ukrainian conditions (a new, paralyzed and confused government without a clear mandate) that will likely not be reproduced elsewhere. The Baltic States and the EU are quite aware of the danger as is NATO, which is constantly exercising in the Baltics. A key issue is how would NATO recognize an ambiguous “hybrid” attack that would require an Article V response? Russia continues to wage a massive propaganda and information warfare campaign with the ultimate goal of undermining NATO and the EU by creating a pro-Russian narrative and even political change. This the part of hybrid warfare that will not easily disappear: it has been part of Russian thinking for over 40 years.
Historically, states' defence reviews are undertaken to assign the defence policy and the resources and means necessary to achieve nationals' objectives, that related to defend national security at home and to protect and to provide projection of national interest abroad. Nowadays, numerous emergencies in the NATO's and European Union's strategic neighborhood, hybrid security threats, years of uncoordinated cuts in defence spending and rapidly evolving global trends have taken place in a multipolar world. Furthermore, the delayed reaction, by NATO and EU against Crimea's annexation by Russia, under the term of “Solidarity” [Readiness Action Plan (RAP)/2014, Political Guidance (PG15)/2015, NATO Defence Planning Process (NDPP)/2015-18], defines the necessity to be more efficient and more effective their military strategy in order to meet today's security challenges and promotes the NATO's and EU's own values and interests. Focus on a contribution to territorial defence, NATO and EU must become complementary /supplementary into a political and military ability to conduct military operations into and beyond their borders.