by NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller at the Kyiv Security Forum

  • 13 Apr. 2018 -
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  • Last updated: 13 Apr. 2018 12:16

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: Oh, truly I'm glad to be back on this podium.  I remember so well being here last year for this conference and the day… the very day I was here the visa-free regime was announced for Ukraine.  It was a very exciting day, a very exciting session, and this is a very exciting conference.  So, I want to thank you again, Mr Yatsenyuk, for inviting me today.  It's quite an honour to be here and good to have a chance to talk to you.  Because there has been a lot of progress toward reform in the last year. I wanted to take note as I open my remarks, about the law on national security that has passed its first reading now and that is a very important step.  Of course, we at NATO hope that all of the basic principles, the important principles and ideals that are so important to Ukraine's democratic path will be incorporated in the final version, but we are heartened by the passing of the first reading of that bill.

And beyond that bill, which is really, you know, part of NATO's core business, our experts have been working with your experts on it, but beyond the national security and defence arena, reforms have also been moving forward in other important areas; health, education, the welfare of the Ukrainian people, and it's impressive for me to have an opportunity to catch up on this as I am here in Kyiv.  And I really want to say that it's been evident from the past year that there has been this kind of stability for a serious working environment here in Kyiv and really hope, from where I stand, that there will continuing opportunities to move forward across the reform agenda.  It is so very important to continue that serious working process.

But here this morning, our emphasis is to talk about the fog of peace and war.  And indeed Clausewitz's old dictum about the fog of war has been clouded, because of Russia's use of hybrid, or as we call them sometimes, asymmetric techniques.  This has created a fog of neither peace nor war, but of constant crisis and destabilisation.  And, in the Donbass, sadly, hot conflict.  Cyber-attacks, disinformation, election interference, the use of nerve agents … every day these dangers confront us now, with the goal of sowing disunity and breaking our resolve.  No-one knows this better than Ukraine, who has been battling these techniques non-stop for the past four years.  I know Ukraine has learned a lot about how to fight back.  One expert told me last evening that Ukraine has now been more or less vaccinated against disinformation, prepared with the right anti-bodies to fight back.  And I think that was a very important comment and I wanted to say how much NATO is looking forward to learning from your experience.  We have been very glad in the past year that the joint NATO-Ukraine hybrid warfare platform, this is a platform that is focused on countering hybrid warfare, has been formed.  And it's really an important element of how NATO can learn from your experience and learn from the best practices that you have put in place.

A core question for us to discuss this morning is what we can do to deter and defend against hybrid or asymmetric threats.  The core answer I think lies in this direction: we must be more aware and alert; we must be resilient to attacks, and; we must be ready to respond, perhaps asymmetrically.  Let me give you a few examples, just to flesh out what I'm talking about.  First of all, we must be more aware and alert; NATO has done a lot to reform our intelligence organisation over the past few years, and one of the key steps we have taken is to form a cell that is focused on the hybrid threats.  Working very closely with the EU, by the way, who has also put in place such a cell.  That is very, very important, to have that flow of intelligence information and to have intelligence-sharing.  We have appreciated the work that Ukraine has been doing to share intelligence with us and we truly have benefited from that.  It's building up a common awareness of what these threats are, what they can mean, how they can develop and how they can evolve.  All of this is very important.  In addition to which, we are I think making better use of open sources, alertness to patterns in the media, including social media.  And these patterns, as we recognise them and understand them, they're already bearing fruit in how we react.  I will steal… I hope the Minister of Defence of Lithuania won't mind me stealing an example from Lithuania's experience.  You all of course remember the situation with Lisa in Germany, two summers ago, when there were stories out about a young girl of Russian origin being raped by immigrants in Germany, Muslim immigrants.  Suddenly this very same story, which in the end had no truth to it, it was proven to have no truth to it, but really, really caused a lot of difficulties in Germany.  Suddenly this story, or a version of it, appeared in Lithuania, with a young girl being assaulted by incoming German troops, serving in the battlegroup.  And it was very interesting that the Lithuanian media immediately said, wait a minute, this is part of a pattern, we recognise something is not right here.  Immediately dove into it and were able to uncover that there was no truth to the matter.  So, it's just another point I want to make, and it's for all our press friends around the room, it's up to you too - Jens Stoltenberg likes to make this point a lot - it's up to you too to look critically at these stories and to try to dig down deep, if there is something in the pattern of the story that doesn’t seem right.  We need to fight actively against disinformation and propaganda.

Now, another area where I think we can continue to work successfully together is crisis management.  We need to establish procedures then we need to exercise them regularly, so we can understand how good our decision-making is and we can recognise where there are gaps.  We have had some very good crisis management procedures developed in recent years.  We are ready to share these with partners.  We are working to share them already with Ukraine and training and the exercising together with you will be very important.  Another part of managing crises has been to share information and we have been delighted at the degree to which countries in the Alliance, but also partners, have been willing to share information about crises as they unfold, as in the past several weeks the UK has regularly shared very serious and very detailed information about the Skripal case.  So, information-sharing, consultation, crisis management, it's all part of the same picture.

Now, resilience across the board; I cannot talk more seriously about this matter in the cyber realm, to defend against attacks, energy security; to force back against the dominance of any single actor, such as Gazprom, and, I am sad to say it, CBRN response, Chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear.  We have to paying attention to the matter of CBRN resilience these days, and I think this too is an important area where our partners, as well as the Allies, can make an important difference, because clearly Ukraine has a lot of experience in the CBRN resilience realm.  So, it's a very important area to work, but I am not happy, after all these years of struggling against weapons of mass destruction in so many ways, all of us working to reduce and eliminate chemical weapons, biological weapons, nuclear, radiological threats, that we must be concerned again about CBRN resilience.  And that is a point I wanted to really underscore for you, that one of the great negative aspects of what Russia has been doing in recent years is this assault on the rule of international law and the important international regimes and treaties that have provided for so much predictability, and also for reductions and elimination of weapons of mass destruction.  So, this is a very extraordinarily serious matter.

Now finally, I think we must be ready to respond and perhaps do so asymmetrically.  So, as I wrap up, I just wanted to make one remark and that is to express our appreciation and gratitude that Ukraine joined, together with all the Allies and many of our partners, in the response that the UK asked us to develop to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, with a nerve agent.  And so, when Ukraine decided to expel 13 Russians from the representation here, it joined with many Allies, and with the NATO institution itself.  We removed the accreditation of several… seven rather, Russians who were in the Mission to NATO, and Sec Gen decided not to extend accreditation to three more who had requested it.  So, a total of ten Russian diplomats ended up not… either not being able to come to NATO or having to leave Brussels and leave our headquarters.  And we have taken steps now to lower the number by ten of the ceiling of those in the Russian Mission at NATO.  So, all of us have taken steps of that kind.  We really appreciate Ukraine's solidarity and working together with us.  It's that unity of response that I think has made an impression on the Kremlin, has made an impression on Moscow.  So, we will see where it goes.

But these are all steps I think we need to continue thinking about how to develop in a decisive way, as we move forward.  So, thank you very much for your attention.  I appreciate the opportunity.  I'm feeling pretty all powerful up here on this box, so maybe I'll return to answer your questions.  Thank you very much.