New Transatlantic Strategy

On the 14th April 2016 in Brussels, the German Marshall Fund of the United States presented the report “Assured Resolve: Testing Possible Challenges to Baltic Security”. The report is a result of the two-day exercise in Washington on Nordic-Baltic security, organized in early February by the Centre for a New American Security (CNAS), and features nearly 50 high-level participants from Europe and the US.

Michele FlournoyAccording to co-founder and CEO of the CNAS Michele Flournoy, the event was initiated due to the recent fundamental change of the European security environment. The core of this change is threat perception in the transatlantic community as a result of Russia’s military aggression in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.

HendrixFirst, the co-author of the report and Director of the CNAS Defence Strategies and Assessment Program Jerry Hendrix elaborated current security challenges to the transatlantic community focusing at Russian’s actions. All the efforts to integrate Russia into the Western security community since early 90’s failed. Vladimir Putin has been rolling back democratic reforms since 2012 and Russia undertook strategic investments with regard to new advancing missile systems and further military technologies. Against this background, authors of the report notice:

“The West should draw a number of important lessons from the events of the last few years. First, with Russia deliberately working to destabilize the European continent, Europe and the United States need to revisit their core assumptions about European security. Second, Russia’s actions reveal a proclivity for the element of surprise, for which the West has to prepare itself accordingly. Third, Russia is relying on a full spectrum of unconventional and conventional tools to intimidate and influence neighboring states, and the West needs to develop innovative ways to counter those tools.” (Hendrix&Smith, 2016, p. 2)

CoverDuring the second part of the presentation, co-author of the report and Director of the CNAS Strategy and Statecraft Program Julianne Smith addressed recommendations for policymaking not only for defence but also for preservation measures in the transatlantic security community. This includes improvement of conventional defense (in the first line technological advances) and nondefense (enhancing intelligence, cybersecurity etc.) capabilities. Moreover, the authors named three following pillars, as the core of the transatlantic strategy: First, the transatlantic unity, which needs to be revived and reciprocally maintained on both sides of the Atlantic. Second pillar is deterrence “with a clear signal to Russia and other potential adversaries that the United States and Europe have returned their focus to the European neighborhood and are investing in the necessary policies and capabilities to ensure that they can monitor suspicious activity, rapidly establish facts on the ground, mobilize a vast network of allies and partners in Europe’s neighborhood to present the true facts, and counter any disinformation campaigns that adversaries might pursue.” (Hendrix&Smith, 2016, p. 8)

Photo GMFUSThird pillar is resilience, that improves ability to anticipate and resolve disruptive challenges. Resilience stresses also “the necessity of pooling the capabilities and expertise of a wider range of actors that stretch beyond the NATO alliance.” (Hendrix&Smith, 2016, p. 11)

To the question of the Ukrainian Think Tanks Liaison Office in Brussels referring the developments in Ukraine due to Russia’s aggression and the role of Ukraine in the New Transatlantic Strategy, Jerry Hendrix said that although there were similarities in Russia’s aggression in Georgia, Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, the action did not repeat, but evolved in a way that the transatlantic security community did not have a response to. Thus, the aggression in Ukraine revealed this challenge to predict what is coming next out of the hybrid warfare, cyber attacks, using energy supply as a weapon. Seeing this picture as a whole, he stressed the need to balance strategic investments accordingly.

“The Russian objective right now is continuing perpetual destabilization of Ukraine,” said Michele Flournoy. Assuming that Ukraine takes right decisions, such as fighting corruption, the international community can do a lot in order to help Ukraine build resilience.

Photo credit: The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF)