Serbia, the largest country of the Western Balkans, faces a historical choice concerning its future political orientation. Although this choice has been on the agenda since the late 1990s, it will remain unresolved for some time to come. The country’s transformation has been moving forward. However, short of integration in western institutions, first of all in the European Union, the process is incomplete and other major players in the international system, first of all Russia but to some extent also China, attempt to influence Belgrade in a direction favorable to their interest. Rational choices in regard to economic integration, trade and investment, and the effects of consolidating democracy should drive Serbia in the direction of the West. However, as demonstrated by some cases, there are factors other than rational choice. Emotional association with Russia, orthodox Christianity, the Russian backing of Serbia in the dispute of the latter with Kosovo, as well as Moscow’s sophisticated influence playing on the West’s step-by-step advancement and hesitation help Russia better establish itself in Serbia. That results in an inconclusive situation that requires attention to avoid the continuation of hesitancy and uncertainty in the long run. China potentially offers an alternative, primarily as a trade partner and investor. However, its interests in Serbia’s future orientation may be different from Moscow’s as its investments may offer higher returns if Belgrade becomes a member of the European Union sooner rather than later.
Deterrence theory has since its inception justified the build-up and maintenance of weapons arsenals assumingly guaranteeing our survival. However, we do not know whether deterrence theory works in practice: major wars may have been avoided for many other reasons than fear of punishment or (other) high costs. Skepticism towards cyber deterrence is used to justify unilateral, punitive, even preventive, pre-emptive, or continuous action against assumed adversaries. Nuclear weapons-centric deterrence, stressing the avoidance of reckless state behavior, could be improved to face the contemporary, technology-infused realities, where zero-tolerance of error or incidents, vital in the nuclear realm, is not realistic. As a result, we have come to accept or denounce cyber operations based on their targets and effects. As a contribution to achieving responsible state behavior in cyberspace, the author suggests utilizing cost calculation, the underlying assumption of deterrence theory, to the fullest: to include the promise of rewards in our policy options.
Cross-domain Coercion as Russia’s Endeavor to Weaken the Eastern Flank of NATO: A Latvian Case Study
Cross-domain coercion is tangible on NATO’s Eastern flank and characterized by the use of derogatory propaganda, fake news, financial assets in the Latvian banking system, Russian-based organized crime, and various military elements. This study on cross-domain coercion, however, concentrates also on the cohesion of the Latvian population, existing gaps within society, and its susceptibility to being exploited by Russia. To acquire data for this study, the author conducted interviews with representatives of the Eastern flank countries and performed an extensive literature review. To determine the root causes of vertical division in the society, the “5 WHYs” method was used. This research has proved that the presence of a Russian minority and the Russian-based organized crime minority can be a good base to create unrest and that Russia is able to influence the internal policy of a country when the Russian economic footprint exceeds 12 % of GDP. The demographics and the cohesion (including vertical and horizontal divisions) of the society are factors determining the resistance of Latvia. The triumph of the populist parties during the October 2018 parliamentary elections reflect the trend that the nation is tired of the corrupt and ineffective government rather than that it is drifting towards Russia. In a broader scope, it is expected that cross-domain coercion will increase and Russia will test the cohesion of NATO.
Energy is an integral part of all branches of the economy and social sphere, with a special role in ensuring the security of the development of modern society. Therefore, energy infrastructure has become a critical component of the hybrid war. Destructive cyber bullying in it is accompanied, as a rule, by chain effects and synergistic effects that systematically influence and cover all other spheres of the life of society and the state, both in ordinary and, especially, in critical conditions. The authors systematically and comprehensively analyzed and present in this article the results of investigations of the features of destructive cyber defects in the national energy sector of Ukraine and the ways of counteracting and protecting critical energy infrastructure.
These policy recommendations reflect the findings of the First Virtual Meeting on “The Western Balkan Countries in the Face of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” convened by the PfP Consortium Study Group “Regional Stability in Southeast Europe,” 28 May 2020. The article includes a number of tangible suggestions for Western Balkan governments, as well as for the EU, EU member states and NATO decision-makers on how to confront the coronavirus and security-related challenges in Southeast Europe.
The article examines the short- and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The temporary shutdown of economies around the world has disrupted global supply chains, which has caused major delays in BRI infrastructure projects and increased the costs. For the time being, China and BRI partner countries will have to divert attention and resources to fighting the spread of the virus and providing relief for their economies. Thus, a serious slowdown for the BRI is inevitable. However, the long-term consequences are still uncertain at this point and will depend, to a large degree, on how long Corona will set back the world economy. China seems determined to carry on with the BRI no matter what, but the question arises if China’s economy will recover quickly enough and if Beijing has the financial reserves to keep up the high level of commitment and support for the BRI. If China manages to sustain the BRI throughout the pandemic, Corona can open up opportunities to use “mask diplomacy” and BRI healthcare infrastructure projects to increase Beijing’s global standing and the local acceptance for the BRI. Given the changed circumstances, BRI countries are well advised to review their participation in the BRI by giving due consideration to the short-term and possible long-term effects. They should consider if they can still afford these infrastructure projects even if they take longer to finish, are more expensive and generate a smaller economic impact.
Soon after the first instance of COVID-19 in Central Asia was recorded in March 2020 in Kazakhstan, the government took immediate steps to introduce containment and mitigation measures. As cases of COVID-19 appeared soon after in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and later in Tajikistan, the governments swiftly responded, instituting emergency measures, empowering law enforcement and medical authorities to implement a broad range of counter-infection mitigation measures to protect public health. Cross-border travel restrictions were imposed. Lockdowns and sheltering-in-place restrictions were imposed in most major cities and curfews were enforced. Routine commercial air flights were cancelled or significantly reduced in international airports and many domestic airports. New levels of visa restrictions were implemented in all the Central Asian countries. The initial infection containment measures were highly successful in curtailing the early spread of Covid-19. But governments immediately confronted a broad range of social and economic difficulties brought on by Covid-19. The sudden interruption of typical earnings and livelihoods for many people, the disruption of commercial supply chains, the cratering of commodity prices, and, for Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in particular, the loss of migrant labor opportunities and remittances, combined with other consequences of Covid-19 to produce a region-wide economic catastrophe. The pandemic called for immediate steps on the part of all the government of the region and focused attention on addressing the long-term social, economic, and even regional political implications.
Covid-19 has spared no region of the world’s Global South and Global North. For obvious reasons, countries in the Global South are especially hard hit. This includes MENA, as most of its countries and societies belong to the Global South. The outcomes of perennial poverty, authoritarianism, corruption, and other serious long-term deficiencies mean that this virus hit societies extremely ill-prepared to mobilize the tremendous efforts needed to counter not only the immediate but also the immense future challenges. As long-term governance deficiencies and the new challenges emanating from COVID-19 are mutually reinforcing each other, finding and implementing sustainable solutions for the future becomes even more difficult – and more urgently needed. This prospect cannot remain without implications for the whole Mediterranean region – and for Europe. European-MENA partnerships are more needed than ever. In order to be effective, these partnerships need to include many new stakeholders; they need to be based on trust and on the principle that responsibility for regional, national, and especially for human security has to be shared.
In the current pandemic crisis, the armed forces of many nations are being called upon to provide assistance and support to the civil authorities in an ever-expanding fashion. This article explores the kinds of roles, missions, tasks, and functions that the armed forces are carrying out in this crisis and identifies a number of policy considerations for decision-makers to ponder when they consider tasking the armed forces to provide these services.
Military organizations are often called upon to contribute with specific capabilities or to enhance the civilian response capacity in an emergency at home, in particular, when urgent action in a high-risk environment is needed. The emergency related to the Covid-19 pandemic was not an exception. The Bulgarian armed forces have already made an important and highly visible contribution and are prepared to perform additional tasks assigned through the new emergency law. Both the society and the political elites appreciate this military involvement, and ideas for new civil security tasks have emerged. Based on the analysis of legal and doctrinal documents and the responses to an interview, this article provides an overview of the domestic tasks of the Bulgarian armed forces prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, new tasks assigned during the pandemic and the possibilities for and the caveats in the further expansion of the spectrum of domestic tasks. The opinions of 41 respondents in the interviews are almost equally split. A slight majority suggests further expansion of the domestic tasks, serving as a back-up, and building on high-tech capabilities the armed forces already possess or plan to develop. The remaining respondents call for exercising caution, assuring that the military contribution is effective and efficient, and reconsidering the newly assigned coercive tasks. The article also presents the decision-making context, shaped by long-delayed modernization, limited budget, and the severe shortage of personnel. This is the context in which policy-makers need to find an adequate balance between defense and civil support roles and capabilities.
Much has been written about Chinese and Russian attempts to abuse the pandemic to reshape international order in favor of authoritarian regimes. Diplomatic initiatives, staged relief operations, and troll propaganda were rolled out when COVID-19 hit Europe and the USA in early March 2020. These activities meant to insinuate that centralized, illiberal governance models are better prepared to manage the crisis. In contrast, the transatlantic world fights the virus with measures taken in accordance with Rule of Law standards. In a previous paper, the author argued that access to legal remedies makes the difference. In spring and early summer of 2020, courts in Germany decided on a number of cases where claimants challenge lockdown regulations. Some of these decisions deserve a closer look because they deepen the understanding of how constitutional requirements are assessed in lieu of the constraints. The article, therefore, starts with a short summary of the German judicial system to challenge executive decisions. It will then turn to discuss some outstanding court rulings. In the end, the contribution attempts to assess what kind of COVID-19-related case law in Germany emerges. Could the courts balance core constitutional principles, the need to keep a functioning health sector, to allow a number of basic rights untouched, and to prepare a careful economic recovery?
This article presents the reaction of the East-central European (ECE) countries, members of the EU and NATO, to the Coronavirus pandemic. Understandably, there are major similarities as the pandemic—a global challenge—hit every state of the region, by and large, in the same way. The geographical location, size (absence of great powers) and historical traditions led to the exposure of these countries to the pandemic being closely aligned. The points of international reference of these small and medium-sized countries can be seen to align in different directions as to which other states they watch and often follow when deciding about their steps in such a global crisis. This article cannot be fully comprehensive and will, therefore, focus on the reactions of health and emergency services. It raises the question as to whether any similarities are deterministic or whether there are noticeable differences due to the variety of their political systems and current history.
This article analyzes the EU's response to COVID-19 against the backdrop of a changing international environment, which is characterized by globalization and a global shift of power. It raises the question of the implications of the current COVID-19 pandemic and the dramatic changes in the international system for the EU's internal and external development. The article argues that the EU can seize the opportunity and gain more influence on the global level if it uses its strength as a manager of interdependencies by rulemaking and rule shaping as well as exercising its influence as a central node in transnational networks. Internal cohesion, the support of human rights and democracy and a strong role in global governance are prerequisites for this particular normative and transformative power of the EU.
At the start of March 2020, roughly two months after its outbreak in the Chinese province of Wuhan, COVID 19 hit Western Europe. Up to 5.7 million people around the world have now tested positive, and more than 350 000 people have died. In Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, and Germany alone, more than 135 000 residents have died. At the beginning of the crisis, European countries and the US sealed off their borders and turned inward to slow down the spread of the virus. Schools, universities, retail, and catering sectors were closed. Wherever possible, office staff were sent home to telework and, in varying intensities, laws and decrees were enacted to enforce physical distancing. At first, domestic themes dominated the headlines. The European public witnessed their respective political decision-makers, along with expert virologists and epidemiologists, discussing which steps were needed to keep the infection rates down and to maintain the safety of health sector employees handling patients. Western liberal democracies particularly were caught in the trilemma of trying to save the lives of its inhabitants, to mind the unprecedented restrictions for its citizens’ basic rights, and to ensure economic survival. ...
The purpose of this article is to evaluate how COVID-19 might impact the future threat posed by Salafi-Jihadi groups and to explain how the current crisis might re-shape the Salafi-Jihadi central message and strategy and in turn impact recruitment, tactics, capability, and leadership, and even doctrine. Salafi-Jihadi groups have found themselves in a dilemma as they have to reckon with the fact that Muslims are not spared from infection despite fervent prayer. If the Coronavirus is the wrath of God against the infidels, why is it also killing the Mujahedeen, and how do you explain it while still maintaining credibility to potential recruits? How do you maintain the Jihad during a global lockdown, where movement is curtailed and resources dry up?
To better understand what we should expect from Salafi-Jihadist groups in the future, the analysis explores three challenges that Jihadi groups will most likely have to overcome as a result of the current crisis: First, the challenge to their strategic mission and capabilities, especially relating to the operationalization of motivations for martyrdom and revenge. Second, the challenge to their ideology, faith, and religious interpretation of scriptures, with impacts on the consistency of their doctrine and “brand.” And Third, the challenge to their unity and ability to provide members with a shared group identity, which may influence recruitment. How Jihadi groups and their leaders address these multi-level challenges will impact their cohesion and effectiveness, and the credibility of their message. It may also have repercussions on leadership and control, which could determine the relevance of the group as a future global threat. The analysis suggests that Salafi-Jihadi terrorism remains a threat both in the short and long-term.
The cybersecurity policy of Switzerland is focused on enhancing competencies and knowledge, investing in research and the resilience of critical infrastructures, threat monitoring, supporting innovation, promoting standards, and increasing awareness – all in the framework of public-private, inter-regional, and international cooperation. The armed forces support this policy by developing threat intelligence and attribution capabilities, readiness to undertake active measures in cyberspace, and to ensure operational availability under any circumstances.
Cybersecurity in and of itself is not particularly new. Contemporary opportunities to exploit vulnerabilities, however, make this a challenging field. It is only natural that rivals exploit newly created opportunities. Conflict, in which adversarial relationships have a cyber dimension, is here to stay. Accordingly, societies must devise an appropriate organization to protect themselves from intentional threats. This article surveys Israel’s approach, outlining the origins and the evolution of the national cyber defense, prevailing threats, doctrinal challenges, and the role military services play in cyber defense.
The article reviews the UK military contribution to the national approach to cybersecurity, extending across the continuum of inter-state activity from peace, through cooperation, competition, confrontation, conflict, and war. According to the UK doctrine, the military performs active and passive defensive functions in cyberspace, offensive cyber operations, cyber intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and cyber operational preparation of the environment, and the response actions are not limited to just the cyber domain.
The article presents Austria’s cybersecurity policy, set in a whole-of-government context. It is comprehensive, integrated, proactive, and based on solidarity and cooperation within and beyond the European Union. Transparent governance, the cooperation between public agencies, businesses, research institutes, and the citizens, investments in awareness, research and development are expected to protect effectively vital information and critical infrastructures. The Ministry of Defense and the Austrian Armed Forces contribute to the national policy primarily through the Joint Forces Command, the Communication and Information Systems & Cyber Defense Command, and the two intelligence services.