Ciberseguridad, una cuestión de Estados, por Yolanda Quintana

Artículo de Revista de Política Exterior de 07.09.2018

El mayor riesgo para la seguridad en Internet no son los delincuentes informáticos, sino los Estados que han encontrado en la tecnología una herramienta de control casi absoluto. Leer más…

Ciberseguridad Yolanda Quintana. Universidad Complutense de Madrid


A world without NATO?

Michael Rühle heads the Energy Security Section of NATO’s Emerging Security Challenges Division. Previously, he served as a speechwriter for six NATO Secretaries General. The views expressed are his own.

What is published in NATO Review does not necessarily represent the official position or policy of member governments, or of NATO.

Fifteen years ago, when the Iraq war divided the NATO Allies and some even talked of the end of the Atlantic Alliance, veteran journalist Jim Hoagland remained calm. Predictions about the imminent demise of NATO had been around for ages, he said during a brainstorm with NATO ambassadors. And, with a wink, he even put some of the blame on fellow journalists: “Whenever we at the Washington Post have a slow news day, we publish a ‘Whither NATO?’ piece.”

Hoagland’s serenity proved justified: the transatlantic relationship quickly recovered.

But times change. Today, the European Union struggles with numerous crises, from “Brexit” to burgeoning nationalism. Formats like the G-7 no longer seem to generate the common leadership on global issues that Western nations have sought to exert for so long. The narrative about the “demise of the West” appears to be gaining more and more traction. And the notion that even the venerable NATO may well be dispensable is no longer confined to the “usual suspects” from the academic ivory tower or the wilder shores of isolationism.

What would a world without NATO look like?

It is a useful question to ask, because such a counterfactual experiment helps to sharpen the focus on what would be at stake. After all, the end of NATO would mean much more than just the disappearance of a bureaucracy in Brussels. It would mean nothing less than the end of an institutionalised political and military link between Europe and North America.

The political and military consequences of such a development would be manifold – and dangerous.

The end of collective defence

The dissolution of the Atlantic Alliance would mean the end of transatlantic collective defence. Europe would have to provide for its security without the United States. For some Euro-enthusiasts, who have long sought Europe’s “emancipation” from the United States, such a prospect might seem like a dream come true. For those, by contrast, who still view the transatlantic community as a unique and indispensable achievement, it would look like a nightmare.

Building a purely European defence would overwhelm the Europeans politically, financially and militarily. Attempting to compensate even partially for the departure of the United States would mean dramatic increases in defence spending and a radical overhaul of European arms development and procurement procedures. Even more, it would ultimately require a genuine European security policy, including a consensus on a European nuclear deterrent, which is nowhere in sight.

In other words, the disappearance of NATO would call for a further deepening of European integration in the very field where integration is most difficult. And all this would come at a time when many nation states want less Europe, not more.

An increase in Russia’s power in Europe

By contrast, the end of NATO would dramatically increase Russia’s position in European security. With the United States effectively ceding its status as a “European power”, the temptation and the opportunities for Russia to divide or intimidate its European neighbours would grow.

It has been said that NATO’s continued existence creates a problem for Russia. That may well be true, but the disappearance of the Alliance would create a problem for Europe: without the NATO protective umbrella, Europe would lack the self-confidence required for a coherent and constructive engagement with the Eurasian power. Some European countries would seek their own deals with Moscow.

Moreover, for many countries in the post-Soviet space, which want to demonstrate their independence from Russia through their relations with NATO, the end of an American security role in Europe would be a strategic disaster. The new “post-American” power balance in Eurasia would condemn them to remain permanently in Russia’s sphere of influence.

Diminishing military interoperability

And there is more. The end of NATO would also deprive Europeans and North Americans of an important framework of legitimacy for the use of military power.

Without the broader NATO framework, the political and military stamina required for dangerous and long-term stabilisation missions, such as Afghanistan, could not be generated. Ad hoc military operations among the United States, Canada and European countries would still be possible – but the disappearance of NATO’s common defence planning and exercise practice would result in ever-diminishing military interoperability among them. Without the United States as the military centre of gravity, European military standards would most likely regress towards the lowest common denominator.

Sooner rather than later, the United States and most of its former allies would lose their ability to cooperate militarily. Without the tried and tested NATO procedures and standards, even the United States’ role as a military enabler (“leading from behind”) would become far more difficult.

The regionalisation of security

If NATO ceased to exist, it would inevitably encourage the regionalisation of security. Without the Alliance as a strategic bracket for bridging different regional security interests, southern European countries would tend to focus on the Maghreb and the Middle East, while eastern European countries would focus more on Russia. However, without the United States as their security backbone, none of these groupings would have enough political cohesion and military strength to exert a lasting influence on their respective regions of interest. The result would be a further weakening of Europe as a strategic actor.

NATO’s unique network of partnerships with dozens of countries from all over the globe would disappear as well, forcing Europe and North America to fall back on a host of complicated bilateral relationships.

Wider implications for Allies and partners

The end of the Alliance would also be an enormous challenge for Allies such as Canada or Turkey, as they do not have the opportunity to organise their ties to Europe through membership of the European Union.

It would even pose a major dilemma for non-NATO countries such as Finland and Sweden. Since their pragmatic policy of military non-alignment is made feasible by a continuing American role in European security, an end of this unique role would significantly change these countries’ strategic environment and could reduce their latitude as engines of regional cooperation.

Finally, without the prospect of NATO accession, the West would also lose much of its influence on the reform processes in the candidate countries from southeast Europe to the Caucasus.

A bad deal

And what about transatlantic burden-sharing? Would the end of NATO not at least ensure that the United States were finally relieved of an “unfair” financial and military burden?

Hardly. The United States defence budget reflects the military expenditures of a global power. It therefore goes well beyond NATO, which at the highest estimate represents no more than 15 per cent of total United States defence spending. Consequently, the dissolution of NATO would translate into relatively small savings for the United States, yet Washington would lose allies, military bases and the political predictability established through daily multilateral consultations in the Alliance framework.

The geopolitical winners would be China, Russia and all those who, by using the clarion call of the need to build a “multipolar world”, seek to weaken the United States’ role in upholding international order.

In sum, for all these reasons, a world without NATO would be a bad deal for the United States, for its Allies, and for partners in Europe and beyond.

NATO Review. 29.08.2018

YouTube. Michael Rühle comments on the role of NATO and energy security

The Science for Peace and Security Programme celebrates its 60th anniversary

2018 marks the 60th anniversary of the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme, which has built a strong track record of promoting scientific projects and collaboration among scientists from NATO countries, maximising the return on research investments and strengthening the transatlantic bond.

NATO Review 17.08.2018. The Science for Peace and Security Programme celebrates its 60th anniversary

Infraestructura Crítica, sector de la Energía: La Seguridad Energética

Seguridad energética: una preocupación fundamental para los aliados y socios.

Energy security plays an important role in our common security:  Brussels Summit Declaration, 2018.

Ten years ago, at their 2008 Summit in Bucharest, NATO Allies agreed their first report on NATO’s role in energy security. Negotiating this confidential paper, which listed major principles as well as key areas of engagement, was challenging.

No one doubted that energy developments could have major security implications for Allies and the Alliance. After all, in particular for some of NATO’s new members that were burdened with serious energy vulnerabilities, energy security was a question of national security. However, given that NATO was not an energy institution, Allies struggled to define NATO’s role in an area that was largely non-military in nature, featured many institutional players and, above all, remained mostly a national responsibility. Accordingly, the Allies defined a broad political framework, yet without suggesting a concrete energy security agenda for the Alliance.

Today, a decade later, the caution that characterised NATO’s initial steps in energy security has given way to a more confident approach. Major changes in the international security environment and energy landscape have brought increased strategic attention to the issue, resulting in a pragmatic energy security agenda that provides tangible value for Allies and partner countries.

How has this change come about?

Global energy developments

The most important driver for NATO’s energy agenda has been the evolution of the global energy landscape. Russia has continued to use energy as part of its foreign policy and, in the case of Ukraine, also demonstrated that energy is part of Moscow’s hybrid warfare toolbox.

Cyber threats have been growing, with the energy sector a major target.

Attacks on NATO fuel convoys in Afghanistan have highlighted the importance of assuring energy supplies to military operations.

Terrorist attacks against energy infrastructure, notably in Northern Africa and the Middle East, have continued, with an average of about 350 incidents per year.

Piracy has remained a threat to tankers carrying oil from the Gulf region through the Indian Ocean – a challenge that NATO’s counter-piracy operation Ocean Shield helped to address.

Other threats to energy infrastructure have been posed by disasters, such as the 2010 Pakistan floods and the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011.

Finally, the rise of “unconventionals” – such as shale oil and gas – has revolutionised the global energy landscape, with potentially massive ramifications for traditional producers.

A coherent agenda

With all these developments bringing home the close link between energy and security, NATO has had its work cut out for it. While the classified Bucharest report remained the overarching guideline for NATO’s role in energy security, the 2010 Strategic Concept, as well as the Progress Reports presented to NATO Heads of State and Government at each NATO Summit, have provided additional guidance and also sketched out a way ahead. This has allowed NATO to develop an unclassified energy security narrative that it could also promote publicly.

To simplify an otherwise complex story, NATO has divided its role into three areas:

    • Raising awareness includes intelligence-sharing on energy development, political consultations among Allies, as well as among Allies and partners, and exchanges with outside experts.
    • Supporting the protection of critical energy infrastructure is mainly about sharing best practices among experts, organising training courses, and inserting energy-related scenarios into exercises.
    • Enhancing energy efficiency in the military includes the sharing of national best practices, demonstrations of energy-efficient equipment, and the development of military energy efficiency standards.

Building a stakeholder community

To better define NATO’s role in energy security and to avoid duplicating the work of others, it has been important to reach out to other energy players. NATO has established working-level contacts with the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Directorate-General for Energy of the European Commission, and experts from academia and the private sector. To enhance energy efficiency in the military, the stakeholder community has also included military engineers and defence companies. This outreach, along with enhanced public diplomacy activities, has made NATO’s role in energy security both clearer and more widely known.

The accreditation of the NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence (COE) in Lithuania in 2012 brought another powerful player into the equation. The COE, which has meanwhile expanded to include 11 member nations, provides analysis and training across the entire spectrum of NATO’s energy security agenda and serves as a unique asset for supporting and promoting NATO’s energy security agenda.

NATO’s two Strategic Commands have also become interested in the issue, contributing with expertise as well as with support on education and training.

Reaching the strategic level

Another major goal was reached in 2014, when the North Atlantic Council (NAC) held an informal meeting with energy experts. These discussions, featuring representatives of the IEA, the European Commission and the US State Department, turned out to be so insightful that Allies decided to turn the “Energy NAC” into an annual event. Energy security had arrived at the strategic level.

A year later the first Energy Security Strategic Awareness Course took place at the NATO School in Oberammergau. With participants from over 20 Allies and partner countries, the course covered a broad spectrum of energy challenges, ranging from the geopolitics of oil and gas to enhancing the energy efficiency of armed forces. Supported by NATO’s Strategic Commands, the COE and the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, it has now become an annual event and a model for courses elsewhere.

Enhancing partnerships

NATO’s evolving role in energy security has attracted the interest of several partner countries, notably energy producers such as Azerbaijan and Algeria and transit countries such as Georgia and Ukraine.

Consequently, NATO has organised various expert workshops on, for example, exchanging best practices on the protection of critical energy infrastructure, often with the support of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme.

In February 2018, NATO held its first energy security course at the newly created NATO-Istanbul Cooperation Initiative Regional Cooperation Centre in Kuwait. And several partner countries, notably Ukraine, briefed Allies on their respective energy situation.

Hybrid war and collective defence

Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its low-level war against Ukraine have added an important new dimension to NATO’s energy agenda: the linkage between energy and hybrid warfare. To destabilise Ukraine, Russia had increased the gas price, supported separatists with energy deliveries and expropriated Ukrainian energy assets in and around Crimea. To support Ukraine, the Energy Security COE and various other players held a major table-top exercise in Kyiv in October 2017, centred on protecting the country’s electrical grid against cyber attacks.

As NATO has refocused its efforts on bolstering the collective defence of its eastern member states, the energy question has posed itself in yet another light: meeting the energy challenges of a military strategy that relies on major reinforcements. To come to grips with this new challenge, military energy requirements have been analysed, and NATO has started to integrate energy considerations into some of its exercises.

The “smart energy” agenda, which aims to enhance energy efficiency in the military, has also made progress: energy-related questions have been inserted into the NATO Defence Planning Process, as a prerequisite for setting interoperability standards. Moreover, the Energy Security COE hosts a biennial event to explore “Innovative Energy Solutions for Military Application” (see IESMA 2018).

The way ahead

The years ahead will see an even stronger focus on education and training, notably with partner countries. More energy-related scenarios will be inserted into NATO exercises, and table-top exercises with Allies and partners are likely to increase in number as well as complexity.

A particular new focus of NATO’s energy-related work will be enhancing the resilience of Allies. Since resilient energy supplies are vital for collective defence, NATO support for Allies in this area is likely to increase. It is also fair to assume that addressing cyber threats to energy infrastructure will gain in importance. While the protection of energy infrastructure remains a national responsibility, NATO’s education and training establishments offer many opportunities – for Allies and partners alike – to get a firm grasp on these challenges.

NATO’s relations with other actors, from the IEA to the private energy sector, will also deepen, allowing NATO to benefit from outside expertise. The number of briefings to the NAC by outside experts is also likely to increase.

Finally, there is a need for more regular consultations among Allies on energy security developments and their security implications. The Brussels Summit Declaration states: “… it is essential to ensure that the members of the Alliance are not vulnerable to political or coercive manipulation of energy, which constitutes a potential threat”. Given Russia’s use of energy as part of its hybrid threats towards Ukraine, it would seem that NATO Allies, many of which are customers of Russian gas and oil, might have a lot to discuss.

Julijus Grubliauskas and Michael Rühle work in the Energy Security Section of NATO’s Emerging Security Challenges Division. The views expressed are their own.

What is published in NATO Review does not necessarily represent the official position or policy of member governments, or of NATO.

NATO Review 26.07.2018

Brussels Declaration on Transatlantic Security and Solidarity


  1. NATO guarantees the security of our territory and populations, our freedom, and the values we share – including democracy, individual liberty, human rights and the rule of law.  Our Alliance embodies the enduring and unbreakable transatlantic bond between Europe and North America to stand together against threats and challenges from any direction. This includes the bedrock commitment to collective defence set out in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.  NATO will continue to strive for peace, security and stability in the whole of the Euro-Atlantic area, in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.
  2. We face a prolonged period of instability. Russia is challenging the rules-based international order by destabilising Ukraine including through the illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea; it is violating international law, conducting provocative military activities, and attempting to undermine our institutions and sow disunity.  At the same time, a multitude of threats emanate from NATO’s Southern periphery. While significant progress has been made in defeating ISIS/Daesh, terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, continues to threaten Allies and the international community and to undermine stability. Instability contributes to irregular migration, trafficking and other challenges for our countries. Allies stand firmly in unity and solidarity in the fight against terrorism.
  3. We will share fairly the responsibilities of defending each other.  Real progress has been made across NATO since our last Summit in Warsaw, with more funding by all Allies for defence, more investment in capabilities, and more forces in operations.  But even if we have turned a corner, we need to do more, and there will be further progress.  We are committed to the Defence Investment Pledge agreed in 2014, and we will report annually on national plans to meet this Pledge.
  4. Today we are strengthening further our deterrence and the collective defence of all NATO territory and populations, building on our Forward Presence and consistent with the decisions taken in Warsaw. Our deterrence and defence is based on an appropriate mix of nuclear, conventional and missile defence capabilities, which we continue to adapt.  We will increase the readiness of our forces and improve our ability to reinforce each other within Europe and across the Atlantic. As part of that, we have agreed an adapted and strengthened NATO Command Structure. We are also further reinforcing the cyber defence capabilities of Allies and of NATO itself.
  5. We are strengthening our capacity to prepare against, deter and respond to hybrid threats. Hybrid tactics increasingly target our political institutions, our public opinion and the security of our citizens.  Allies are making our societies more resilient against them, and we will respond with resolve when necessary.
  6. NATO poses no threat to any country. All these measures are defensive, proportionate and transparent, and within NATO’s legal and political commitments.  We remain fully committed to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.
  7. We remain ready for a meaningful dialogue with Russia to communicate clearly our positions and, as a first priority, to minimize risk from military incidents, including through reciprocal measures of transparency.  We continue to aspire to a constructive relationship with Russia, when Russia’s actions make that possible.
  8. We are boosting NATO’s contribution to the international fight against terrorism. We have decided, on request of the Iraqi Government and in coordination with the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, to establish a training mission in Iraq.  We will increase our assistance to the Afghan Security Forces, providing more trainers and extending financial support, as the Government makes an unprecedented political effort to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict.   NATO will do more to help Allies, on their request, to tackle terrorism at home; to provide advice and support to partners, including through the new Hub for the South; and will continue to contribute to the Global Coalition.
  9. We are strengthening NATO’s contribution to projecting stability, because we know that our security is best assured if it is shared beyond our borders. We have agreed a Package on the South to deepen our political dialogue and practical cooperation with our partners in the region, including Jordan and Tunisia.  We provide tailored support to our eastern partners Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, as well as to Bosnia and Herzegovina.  We will also boost NATO’s cooperation with Finland and Sweden in the Baltic Sea, as well as with our partners in the Black Sea, Western Balkans and Mediterranean regions, each of which is important to Alliance security.  We are maintaining our important operation in Kosovo. And while remaining a transatlantic Alliance, NATO will retain its global perspective.
  10. The NATO-EU strategic partnership is essential for the security and prosperity of our nations and of the Euro-Atlantic area.  The European and North American Allies contribute significantly to European security and defence. We recognize that a stronger and more capable European defence will lead to a stronger NATO. We therefore welcome the Joint Declaration signed by the NATO Secretary General and the Presidents of the European Council and Commission, which sets out the unprecedented progress being made in NATO-EU cooperation, including on military mobility. We welcome the significant contributions of the members of both organisations to Euro-Atlantic security.
  11. We are committed to NATO’s Open Door policy because it strengthens the Alliance and contributes to Euro-Atlantic security, in keeping with the Bucharest Summit.  We warmly welcome the agreement between Athens and Skopje; this success will benefit both countries, the region and NATO.  We have decided to invite the Government in Skopje to begin accession talks to join the Alliance once the terms of the agreement are met.
  12. We continue to modernize the Alliance. To face evolving security challenges, we have taken steps to ensure that NATO can continue to act at the speed required. Our new policies on NATO’s support for Women, Peace and Security, and for the protection of civilians and children in armed conflict, demonstrate our determination to step up NATO’s role in these areas.
  13. We pay tribute to all the men and women who serve, and who have served, in NATO operations and missions.  Their service and sacrifice has been essential to keep our territories and populations safe.

Press Release 11.07.2018 NATO