Author: Assist.Prof. Gordan Akrap
Abstract: Russia's second aggression against Ukraine launched in February 2022, compared to the one in 2014, shows all the brutality of the Russian regime. In same time aggression disregard agreed cooperation mechanisms in crisis management processes with the aim of avoiding stronger conflicts and wars. Is it necessary, as a consequence of this Russian aggression, to change the existing global security architecture completely or should it be upgraded? Considering the hybridity of existing and emerging conflicts and wars, societies and states should be prepared for these challenges by integrating their own capabilities at the national and international level. In this process, the protection of critical infrastructures plays a significant role. Especially those that are considered as a key critical infrastructure.
Keywords: NATO, Russia, Ukraine, New security architecture
Sažetak: Druga agresija Rusije na Ukrajinu pokrenuta u veljači 2022., u odnosu na onu iz 2014. pokazuje svu brutalnost ruskog režima I nepoštivanje dogovorenih mehanizama suradnje u procesima upravljanja krizama s ciljem izbjegavanja snažnijih sukoba I ratova. Je li potrebno, kao posljedica ove Ruske agresije mijenjati postojeću svjetsku sigurnosnu arhitekturu u potpunosti ili je pak treba nadograditi? S obzirom na hibridnost postojećih i budućih sukoba i ratova, društva i države se trebaju pripremiti na te izazove integriranjem vlastitih sposobnosti na nacionalnoj i međunarodnoj razini. U tom procesu, butnu ulogu ima i zaštita kritičnih infrastruktura. Posebno onih koje se smatraju ključnim kritičnim infrastrukturama.
Ključne riječi: NATO, Rusija, Ukrajina Nova sigurnosna arhitektura
In last several years we are witnessing numerous security and social challenges unimaginable to the wider public before it. We are also witnessing a change in the paradigms of living, where, until recently, questions and demands related to security were of secondary importance. Today, it is clearly seen that questions related to security must be directly incorporated in the processes of planning our activities from the beginning. Literally speaking, everything around us can be used in the fight against us in some of the ways that are available to the information and influence attacker.
February 24, 2022, the day when Russia, unjustifiably and against international law, attacked Ukraine for the second time in eight years, will be remembered as one of the turning points in the history of human conflicts and wars. That act of aggression led to tectonic changes in the public's perception of security issues. Although the professionals and experts has been warning for years about the Russian malicious activities that were hidden behind numerous processes that took place (and are still taking place on the Euro-Asian scene), the wider public did not pay special attention to it. Warnings about the need to strengthen the defense capabilities of EU member states and NATO allies were ignored, sometimes ridiculed, and described as unjustified fears of militarists who want to impose numerous restrictions on democratic societies to the detriment of democracy itself.
Warnings about the reality of hybrid threats to modern democracies were not taken seriously. Moreover, these warnings were perceived as an attempt to stifle media freedoms and as a threat to democracy. This is precisely one of the classic examples of the simultaneous paradox that characterizes hybrid threats: you must explain to the attacked audience and convince them that they are under attack and that they are acting in accordance with the goals and wishes of the hybrid attacker. Even the attacked does not believe you and at the same time accuses you of violence and abuse of human rights and freedoms, freedom of the media...unfortunately this has been seen many times.
The day of Russian aggression against Ukraine, February 24, 2022, changed everything. And it will change as long as we keep it in our memory together with consequences we are facing, and we will be faced with. If we do not recognize the real threats on time and find the devotion, abilities, strength, and determination to face these threats, they tend to ill reiterate. These threats are neither fictitious nor illusory, they are reality.
Hybrid threats represent the ability and possibility of using the entire spectrum of different activities from all possible domains of human life as a means of attacks to achieve the goals of the hybrid attacker. We are witnessing processes that prove that hybrid threats are used in all possible domains of human life as vectors for offensive actions. The emphasis of hybrid attacker is on identifying and exploiting existing, just as creating new, vulnerabilities of democracy and society. They attack key critical infrastructure, introduce divisions into societies, doubts and uncertainty and indecision in decision-making process, duality, and unjustified fears, affect and influence the cognitive and decision-making processes of the attacked audience.
At the gravity center of hybrid threats are data and info-mation that attempt to influence the cognitive processes of different target audiences in different time-space conditions. Messages must be specially adapted and adaptable in terms of content, communication channel used for their distribution and exposure time. For hybrid threats to be realized, the influence attacker must have the data and information he needs in the processes of planning and implementing his intentions. These activities are hiding, in my opinion, a key activity that can enable our efforts to identify and recognize early warning signals for hybrid threats. Therefore, the intelligence community, at the national and international level, plays an almost key role in the preventive protection of society and the state. We will talk more about this phenomenon during this and future forums. Strategic forecasting, the creation of warning intelligence, proved to be a key activity in preparing the national and international public in a case of Russian aggression against Ukraine. Although just few took American assessments and warnings seriously, they came true. Warning intelligence succeeded in plans to: mobilized Ukrainians around the need to defend their own sovereignty and existence; in the targeted countries, they led to the mobilization of the public, which strongly supported the sending of various forms of aid to the attacked Ukraine; and they probably led to the disruption of Russian aggressive plans. And they showed that serious intelligence communities have a reason to exist.
How to fight against hybrid threats: only with knowledge, development and integration of homeland security capabilities at the national and international level, strengthening the trust of the population in the institutions of society and the state that are taking care of security and protection, with truth and openness, adapting the defense system at the preventive level of continuous detection of early warning signals; strengthening the capabilities, knowledge, skills and capabilities of the intelligence community, as well as civil society.
Modern and future hybrid attackers will constantly emphasize their position that today's world is unipolar and that only a bipolar or even multipolar world can guarantee long-term stability and security. Of course, their accusations target the US and the attempt to create a conflict between the US and the EU and to separate Europe from its transatlantic ally. The facts say otherwise. Healthy unipolarity, based on rule of law, is always better than unhealthy bipolarity or multipolarity. Conflicts and wars occur regardless of the number of poles in international relations. It is the intention of the attacker that decides on conflict and war that matters. Not the one who defends himself. We know this very well when a bloody war was imposed on Croatia in the 90s, from which, although many did not expect it, we came out victorious.
Just like the imposition of war on Ukraine now. Many did not trust the Ukrainians will defend themselves. But those of us who have followed the situation in Ukraine since 2014, who have directly and indirectly followed the development and increasing of their abilities, knowledge, skills, and abilities, with a constant increase in awareness of strengthening national cohesion and building and strengthening national identity, the Ukrainian successful defense was not a surprise. Not even successful offensive operations of Ukrainians that are liberating their own country. We recognized the processes and models by which attacker attempted, and is continuing to do that in future, to maliciously influence societies in the EU/NATO alliance. We also recognized the real bearers and initiators of those activities. For several years, here on the Forum, we have been pointing out these malicious processes that are happening in our countries. We also pointed out how our numerous personal data are used maliciously in attempts to manipulate with our cognitive processes and decision-making process, how they encourage, organize, and support various forms of organizing citizens who act destructively for the safety and stability of society without realizing that everything they do, they do for the benefit of their own harm, but also harm their fellow citizens. I am convinced that we have at least helped a little in identifying threats and risks, their bearers, and clients, and understanding the reality as it is.
Different states and societies, different modus operandi of the hybrid aggressor
Given all that we have been witnessing publicly and openly these past few months I think that we, as friends and allies, need to help to each other. To face many different risks effectively. We can see this in the explosions of military warehouses in certain NATO allied countries, in the violent political processes in Bulgaria, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Estonia, in the instigation and provoked attempts of encouraging street riots and violence in countries such as Czech Republic, Croatia, and Germany.
At this moment, there is one country, apart from Ukraine which, in my opinion, need the help of allies and friends in the fight to preserve democracy, and freedoms. It's about Germany. Germany is the target of strong, intensive, and highly dispersed influence operations by which Russia tries to stimulate internal violent processes by destabilizing Germany. And Europe after all. President Putin's recent speech on the illegal annexation of the territory of Ukraine was aimed at influencing several different audiences: the public in Russia to justify the huge number of victims of the aggression he launched, the political elite of NATO and the EU member states to send clear warnings about his intentions to use WMD in case of protection of his interests. However, the messages were sent to another, unfortunately numerous, audience: those who live around the world, with an emphasis on NATO and EU countries and parts of our population who feed themselves with conspiracy theories, for whom vain populism is the only means of communication and who are ready and willing to initiate numerous protests and riots with the aim of destroying existing democratic societies, destroying the existing system of values, principles and beliefs, which are ready to use socially unacceptable forms of action in their destruction. Unfortunately, Germany also has such an audience that Russia, aware of the importance of Germany for the stability and security of the European continent, is purposefully trying to mobilize in order to lead to strong internal insecurities and instability. Which will have a negative cascading effect on all other EU and NATO member countries on European soil. Today, Ukraine is the target of kinetic aggression. Tomorrow it will be a different country. Today, Germany is at the center of aggression by Russian non-kinetic means. Tomorrow it will be a different country. Or more of them. That is why we have no right to passivity. We need to help our allies and friends with the goal of preserving human rights and freedoms.
No one can win any conflict (especially war) any more alone. We, Croats, knows that. Our friends and allies, the Ukrainians, knows that now. They are not fighting only for themselves. They are fighting for us, for everything that we fought for in in our Homeland War for independence: for the right to freedom of existence, first of all for free and democratic elections, for freedom of thought and expression, for peace and tolerance, for coexistence and building relations between different based on mutual understanding. And that's why Ukraine needs our help. But not only her. Let's not forget our other allied friends. Let's not forget Montenegro either. We will discuss this also at the Form so that even those who are not yet close enough to this issue, will be able to realize and understand the reality. Although it seems strange when I say it, but we must help the development of democracy, human rights, and freedoms in Serbia because Serbia, as it is now, represents a serious security challenge due to its internal instability. Of course, that is my opinion.
New-Old Security Architecture
The new security architecture should encompass the Euro-Asia area in a manner like the existing transatlantic cooperation. Work should be done to create more interconnected democratic and constructive forms of integration. New forms of cooperation should be based on a networked societies where, instead of assimilation, integration is planned and carried out in accordance with common interests at levels that connect and not divide, on the construction of joint mechanisms for cooperation with the aim of protecting democracy and the development of joint capabilities, to impose peace through a strategy of deterrence. The deterrence strategy must contain two essential elements: the ability to defend and irrefutably identify possible attacker and the ability to respond reciprocally to the identified attacker to further disable his offensive actions. The international law order must be based on legal foundations, agreed, and harmonized. The use of force is not the solution for conflicts and differences in the networked world. Common interests take precedence over individual interests (just as in the processes of building democratic societies. NATO is the solution; it is neither a problem nor a threat nor a risk. Strategic diversification of the capabilities of key critical infrastructures is a necessity, as well as transnational networking and the creation of stocks that helps to achieve a state of resilience. Building common defensive and protective democratic mechanisms, that must not be bureaucratized and become a meaning for themselves, needs to be our priority.
We can see that Russia, thanks to the current security architecture, has remained alone in its aggression against Ukraine. While Ukraine has strong international support. This shows that the existing architecture is efficient, but not enough to prevent authoritarian and totalitarian systems from aggressively actions. We are already witnessing, and soon we will witness even more, a repetition of the processes that occurred after the end of the Cold War, when "smaller" states requested and received the protection of the NATO „umbrella“ in fear for their freedom, independence and sovereignty. Now it is probably clear to most of the population, what we have been saying for decades: the NATO alliance is the guarantor of stability, security, preservation of freedom and sovereignty. We share our sovereignty with our allies, not to give it to someone, but to protect it together. Individually and together. Likewise with the EU. Strong, complementary cooperation and the development of knowledge, skills, and capabilities of the EU and NATO is a necessity that must create new security procedures, mechanisms and protocols that should offer preventive solutions for the future security challenges we will face. It's not a question of whether we will face them. Question is who, when, in which area with what consequences and whether we will be able to fight emerging security challenges. That's why we started this Forum to be a small puzzle in a mosaic cube in the processes of protecting democracy and strengthening security and freedom.
A special problem that we in Croatia are also facing are another attempts to cheat democracy and abuse it in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to the detriment of Croats from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in the foreseeable future, other peoples and minorities besides the BiH Bosniaks. Just as the Baltic states and Ukraine constantly warned us about threats to democracy coming from Russia, we have been warning for years about anti-democratic processes in BiH that prevent its positive social and economic development. Which prevent its stabilization and the building of its capacities to move towards a process of only sustainability and democratic functionality.
Military power is essential for obtaining a state of certain supremacy in wars. However, soft power is essential for gaining a state of supremacy both in conflicts and in wars. We should always keep this in mind when planning defensive activities with the aim of dissuading attackers from their intention to attack us. Such attackers must not be given any concessions because they will perceive such activities as weakness and will tend towards further and continuous escalation of conflicts and wars. There are also some other serious questions. Namely, we must not forget one fact in the fight against hybrid and modern attackers: can we use all the means at our disposal in the fight to preserve our way of life and democracy’ Do we need to act in same way against hybrid attackers, when they are attacking us? Or should we maintain the strength of our spirit and morals in these situations, preserve the system of values, principles, and beliefs that we want to protect so much? We must not put ourselves in a situation where we act according to the sentence “that the end justifies the means”. The response to hybrid threats must be reciprocal, but it must contain clear attitudes about respecting the law and adhering to the ethical principles that bind us together. In the fight to protect democracy, we must not turn ourselves into what we are fighting against.
The events that mark this year are also important for our future. We point out the need for new assessments based on real experiences about the necessity to organize new world order and a new Eurasian security architecture in the context of strengthening the transatlantic alliance. Koje is a necessity, not a luxury. However, we need to think about the question that many of us are asking do we need a completely new security architecture or do we need to adapt the existing one to future security challenges. Only together we can emerge victorious from future conflicts and wars. Although parts of the existing national security structures have failed in their assessment of Russia's aggressive intentions, one fact is undeniable: the NATO alliance shows resilience and readiness for challenges of all types and intensity. Therefore, there is no need to completely change the existing security architecture, but to upgrade it towards the Euro-Asian area to prevent the aggressive behavior of certain players in the international community on a preventive level. This can be achieved, among other activities, by integrating existing skills and knowledge and by the will and desire for cooperation and defense. Russian aggression against Ukraine shows the correctness of some of the fundamental assumptions behind Western democracy:
- The development of new knowledge and science is woven into the foundations of the policy of deterring a possible attacker from the intention of aggression, because better and better knowledge is the link that makes the difference in the development of defensive and deterrent capabilities;
- We need to make strong efforts, at the national and international level, in order to strengthen democracy and protect freedoms and society from malicious influence operations (which come from the domain of the use of kinetic and non-kinetic combat assets).
Therefore, strengthening democracy, protecting freedom and society is the goal we strive for. Which should be brought closer to others who are outside the existing security architecture in which we exist. Gradually and in accordance with adapted and adaptable forms of action. Democracy and de-democratization are both a state and a process. And as such it should be experienced, practiced, applied, and promoted.
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