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Centre for Global Studies \"Strategy XXI\"

Event Reports

Ukraine-NATO-EU: Focus on Information and Cyber Security

International Round table

On September 18th the Kyiv office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung together with the Centre for Global Studies Strategy XXI and the European Neighborhood Council (Brussels) hosted an international round table in Kyiv. The topic was “Ukraine-NATO-EU: Focus on Information and Cyber Security”. The aim of the event was to set out key directions of the Ukraine-NATO-EU security cooperation in the field of information, cyber security and strategic communication and to discuss possible ways to counter disinformation, misinformation and cyber threats in general.

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Participants were representatives of the Ukrainian ministries and government agencies (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, National Police, National Institute for Strategic Studies), missions of the international organizations in Ukraine (EUAM), embassies of European member states, leading Ukrainian and foreign think-tanks, and representatives of Ukrainian non-governmental initiatives counteracting to hybrid threats in the information and cyber spheres (StopFake, Euromaidan Press, Ukrainian Cyber Forces). Among the key speakers were Serhii Saienko, Acting Director-General of the EU and NATO Directorate General of the MFA of Ukraine; Samuel Doveri Vesterbye, Managing Director of the European Neighborhood Council (Brussels); Veronika Špalková, Member of the Kremlin Watch Program (Prague), Kakha Gogolashvili, Senior-Fellow and the Director of the European Studies at the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (Georgia).

The discussions main focus was the security cooperation between Ukraine-EU-EaP-NATO, the cooperation within the EaP when countering hybrid threats and the challenge of safeguarding information and cyber security in an era of hybrid warfare. Other than that, central issues for debate were the Kremlin’s propaganda and cyber threats that reach beyond Ukraine, having a direct impact on the EU, EaP and NATO countries and their cooperation for common resistance.  The aim was to talk about new ways on how to strengthen Ukraine's interaction with the EU and NATO in countering information and cyber threats.

After welcoming remarks by the co-organisers, the first panel was opened by pointing out that hybrid threats need to be dealt with by responding jointly, by further developing a strategic communications dialogue with European Institutions and that Ukrainian law need to be brought in line with European standards.  Throughout the discussion several speakers where calling for a legal reform concerning cyber threats, since the public authorities only work within outdated legal frameworks, they cannot respond efficiently within the frame of the current legislation.
Another point of discussion was the internal cooperation of different stakeholders in the country, the involvement of civil society. Debunking fake-news alone is not sufficient if civil society is not given an alternative to influenced media. Media literacy education could be the right response, but it should be directed not only at students but also at the elderly since they constitute a significant part of the Ukrainian electorate and are often forgotten in discussions about countering disinformation.

As a recurring problematic, speakers brought up the ineffectiveness of public counteraction to cyber threats. On the one hand, it is due to the low level of responsibility for cybercrime in Ukraine and the existence of legal barriers to more effective cyber police investigations. On the other hand, Ukraine needs to improve its cyber legal framework in the form of adaptation to EU rules and the Budapest Convention on cybercrime.  
As positive developments, the increasing engagement of EU countries and the fact that EU acknowledges the problematic in its full scope was pointed out. Common strategies are really good instruments and that can be realised by including an implementation plan in the future. 
After a fruitful Q/A session, the round table was concluded by thanking the partners for cooperating and by emphasizing the importance of future cooperation in the field of information and cyber security.

Author: Annika Ruge, intern

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