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Reflections from Mons: On NATO, the cyber domain and its implications

Nearly two months have passed since the YATA Denmark delegation visited Mons, Belgium, to attend NIAS 2017 Cyber Security Summit. This came as the second NIAS to be held after NATO recognized cyber as an operational domain of war in July 2016, which remained a key topic during industry and government keynote speeches. With this adaptation, cyber is commonly referred to as the fifth interdependent domain, with the remaining four being land, sea, air and space. Cyber, as of right now, is the only non-physical domain acknowledged by NATO and other member state militaries.

This raises the question of why something which is so ubiquitous should simultaneously be understood as something which stands on its own. Seemingly, it would be counterintuitive to accept cyberspace as an independent domain when operations are carried out with it in regularly in every physical domain. So what really are the merits of identifying Cyber as a domain? And how will this recognition shape how we operate in other domains? Both from a unilateral and from a NATO standpoint these questions are likely to shape the way cyber capabilities and doctrine evolve in the future.

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Nord Stream 2 – the Danish affair

The Nord Stream 2 project is a set of pipelines stretching from Russia to Germany in order to provide reliable, affordable and sustainable new gas supplies to the EU. The pipelines are to follow the same route as the already established Nord Stream 1, which was finalized in 2011 and 2012; however, the new adjacent pipes are causing European dissonance as various incompatible interests coincide. The new pipelines, like the previous ones, are to cross through Danish territorial waters, and in turn require a Danish permit.

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NATO defence in cyberspace

Cyberspace is no longer an abstraction; it is something very real that has tangible impact on our daily lives. That is why NATO has recognised cyber as a domain of operation par with the traditional security domains. Every year NATO organises the NATO Information Assurance & Cyber Defense Symposium (NIAS), and YATA Denmark Research participated in this year’s event in Mons, Belgium to get acquainted with state of the art of cyber security.

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The Ilulissat Declaration ten years on

The Danish government recently published the Danish Foreign and Security Policy Strategy 2017-2018, which includes an initiative to “use the 10th anniversary of the Ilulissat Declaration to draw attention to the political obligations and expand the practical collaboration for shared interests”. The Ilulissat Declaration was a Danish (and Greenlandic) initiative and in consequence, it is only natural that it is the Danes who are reminding the other signatories of the common goals agreed upon.  

The Danes are right to take credit for the initiative as the declaration is a tangible demonstration proving a shared willingness to cooperation and dialogue concerning the Arctic between the Arctic nations. However, the question remains; does the Ilulissat Declaration have merit in today’s world or is it a remnant of the past? 

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All Quiet on the Eastern Flank: Shake-up of Military Forces

Tensions are building between NATO and Russia and one place this is playing out is in Poland where, for the first time, NATO has stationed a battle group. The events unfolding today in the region are contextualized by Poles’ memories of a not so distant history. This article examines the recent military build-up on the Polish-Russian borders and discusses the immediate implications.

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Breaking Free from Fear of Terrorism

Terrorism. There seems to be nothing more frightening than terrorism or the unstoppable thought about when and who might be under attack next. The global threat that has now completely arrived in Europe makes us so very afraid that we abandon core values of the European Union like open borders and free movement across the continent. This article shows the failures of approaches adopted by Western governments to tackle terrorism and re-establishing security – felt and real. Furthermore, it should illuminate a different angle towards terrorism and show how our fears stand in the way of peaceful coexistence.

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Will Finland ever join NATO?

Finland lies between Sweden and Russia, sharing the second longest land border with Russia of approximately 1,300 km. Due to its geographical position, Finland has a history of occupation by both Sweden and Imperial Russia. Swedish influence from the 13th century is still visible seeing as the second most popular language in Finland remains to be Swedish, and is recognized as an official language in some Finnish municipalities mostly along the coast near to Sweden. In addition, the involvement of both the Russian Empire from 1809 until 1917 and the Soviet Union in the 20th Century demonstrates the deeply-rooted historic confrontation between Finland and Russia on their borders.

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Corruption Allegations Inspire Mass Rallies in Russia

More than 60,000 people gathered in 82 cities of Russia on 26 March, 2017, to protest against the corruption of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. As stated by Meduza, a Riga-based news source, the rallies were the biggest protest movement in Russia since the 2012 demonstrations in the aftermath of the previous presidential elections. By comparison, the recent protest gathered more protesters in more regions of Russia than ever before, which resulted in more arrests than at any other event in the last five years. Russian law enforcement detained people across the country, including underaged Russians and a journalist from The Guardian, Alec Luhn. The most crowded rallies were located in Moscow with nearly 8,000 participants and 1,030 detained, and Saint-Petersburg with 3,000 participants and 131 detained.  Alexei Navalny, leader of the Russian Progress Party, was also arrested during the protests and sentenced to 15 days imprisonment.

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NATO-European Union Alliance Relative in Security?

Close cooperation and a mutually-beneficial relationship between NATO and the European Union plays a key role in the day to day affairs on either side of the Atlantic. This could be the result of numerous factors such as sharing an overlapping history, overlapping member states, as well as common values and goals between the two organisations. The roles and even existence of both, separately as well as in tandem, have been called into question especially with the changing geopolitical climate after the events of 2016. President Donald Trump’s statements question the support NATO will receive from the United States, raising uncertainty within NATO and the EU.