On July 30, 2018, PSSI released its latest space security report, entitled “Europe’s Preparedness to Respond to Space Hybrid Operations." The Report, and an associated Fact Sheet, focus on the “grey zone” spectrum of counterspace actions/activities. These operations pose a major threat as they are designed to probe gaps in targeted countries’ preparedness, readiness, level of allied coordination and response options. They can also serve to fine-tune an adversary’s strategy to create asymmetric effects without paying a significant price. The Report also offers recommendations on how to strengthen pre-crisis planning related to this issue set.
The Prague Security Studies Institute hosted the 14th annual NATO Summer School in Orlík, Czech Republic from July 1-7, 2018. Entitled “NATO in the Age of Hybrid Warfare,” each day of the Summer School hosted up to three lectures from distinguished professors and security practitioners, speaking on topics ranging from NATO’s preparedness for hybrid warfare, cybersecurity of the member states, and to newer branches of security including space security as well asthe economic and financial threat domain. You can find recordings for some of these lectures on our Youtube channel.
Alongside stimulating lectures, students also participated in a crisis simulation set in the Black Sea. Each group represented a different NATO member state or partner country and was tasked with negotiating with the other groups in a strategic manner to achieve their goals and interests in the region. The students also had to work with the media platform Slack, thus incorporating lessons of strategic communications and tackling both misinformed and malignant disinformation outlets. The simulation concluded with a mock NATO summit in which the NATO member states negotiated terms of peace and de-escalation in the Black Sea.
On May 18, 2018, the Prague Security Studies Institute organized a closed roundtable event in Prague entitled “Responding to Unconventional Threats to Europe’s Space Operations.” The goal of the roundtable was to assess the nature of what we termed “space hybrid operations” (i.e. intentional, mostly reversible, and often harmful, space actions/activities conducted just below the threshold of requiring a meaningful military or political retaliatory response), as well as the level of preparedness of the European military, civilian, and commercial actors concerning these unconventional threats.
The project team consists of Prague-based Balkan experts and one local researcher from each of the five countries in focus.
On May 29-30, PSSI held a workshop within the framework of the newly launched project. The workshop sought to bring together the project team with other Czech Balkanists as well as experts on Russia, China, and the Gulf states. The first day focused on the Czech experience and the project team discussed the methodology, terminology, and structure of the project outputs. During the second day, all participants actively engaged in highly interesting debates regarding foreign powers' influence activities and major vulnerabilities of the Balkan countries.
In August, PSSI published the project's first briefing paper titled 'East vs. West'. The briefing paper provides background on the project topic and positions the debate within the political and geostrategic context of today’s Western Balkans. Unlike the five upcoming briefing papers, it also focuses on the EU, NATO and U.S. influence in the region to capture the West vs. East dimension of external powers' politics in the Balkans. An abridged version of the briefing is also available.
The project's second briefing papercame out in September and focuses on Russian, Chinese, Turkish and the Gulf States’ influence and activities in the political arena of the Western Balkan countries. The briefing paper mainly focuses on foreign powers’ activities which aim to achieve political gains by influencing political decision-making and voting patterns in international bodies.It analyzes elite capture, links to important political elites and political parties or ‘spoilerism’. An executive summary is also available.
PSSI ORGANIZED A CONFERENCE ON NON-STANDARD ECONOMIC BEHAVIOR OF CHINA AND RUSSIA IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC
In February 2018, the Prague Security Studies Institute held a conference that addressed the non-standard economic behavior of China and Russia in the Czech Republic. Pictures from the event are available on our Facebook page.
During the conference, PSSI introduced a set of recommendations for implementing FDI screening mechanisms in the Czech Republic. The recommendations are available on the project's website (in Czech).
During the week-long intensive course, students had the chance to learn more about the newest trends in the field of cybersecurity. Topics covered in lectures and workshops included cybersecurity of critical infrastructure, data centric security, and cybercrime. Students also had a chance to take a closer look at the functioning of the National Cyber and Information Security Agency during a day trip to the agency's headquarters in Brno.
The Network of Democracy Research Institutes (NDRI) is a global network of think tanks that conduct research and analysis on democracy, democratization, and related topics in comparative government and international affairs.
Participation at the Academy is offered to members of youth organizations of democratic political parties to improve their capabilities in the security field. The program is comprised of a series of lectures and seminars led by distinguished current and former security policy professionals from the Czech Republic and other countries. Among the topics discussed were hybrid threats and ways in which to counter them, cybersecurity, and the activities of Russia and China in the CEE region.
The first run of PSSI's Security Academy for Young Politicians was concluded in April by a workshop on Youth Leadership Development organized in collaboration with the National Democratic Institute (NDI). The workshop was led by Hannah Starman from Yes Europe Lab. You can find photos from the event on our Facebook page.
On August 6, 2018, PSSI’s Space Security Program Director, Dr. Jana Robinson, delivered remarks on current trends and developments in space security at the first session in Geneva of the UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Further Practical Measures for the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space established pursuant to the UN General Assembly Resolution 72/250 of December 2017.
The presentation reviewed practical obstacles related to the pursuit of arms control in space including the “grey zone” of temporary, reversible, and less-attributable actions/activities, such as cyber attacks. She also explained the growing concern over "space sector capture,” defined as “a state actor's provision of space-related equipment, technology, services and financing ultimately designed to limit the freedom of action and independence of the recipient state's space sector, generally implemented on an incremental basis."
The analysismaps out the ways in which NATO is portrayed in the Czech media. Special attention was dedicated to the deployment of Czech soldiers to the Baltic states as a part of the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence, which became a subject of heated political debate in May 2018.
The paper also provides recommendations on communicating NATO-related issues to the public. These recommendations are based not solely on our research findings, but also on consultation with leading experts in the field who participated in PSSI's NATO Summer School 2018.
The complete analysis is available here in Czech. A summary of the analysis can be found here in both Czech and English.
China's "charm offensive" across the Visegrad region and the Balkans in recent years is unprecedented. Despite the difficulty facing these regions in striking a proper balance between potential challenges and opportunities, improved relations have, nevertheless, begun to develop at a rapid pace through a variety of mechanisms. This unfolding reality has been reflected not only in higher trade volumes and people-to-people exchanges, but also in Chinese investment projects targeting strategic industries.
For China, the Balkans and the Visegrad region represent a gateway to larger European markets. While some stakeholders recommend taking full advantage of opportunities stemming from China´s rise, there is a dearth of discussion on the national security implications of increased trade and capital flows. "Comparative Analysis of the Approach Towards China: V4+ and One Belt One Road" seeks to explore these implications.
As part of its Czech Election in the Era of Disinformation project, the Prague Security Studies Institute analyzed how platforms disseminating disinformation referred to electoral campaigns before the Czech Presidential Elections.
Within the framework of this project, four briefing papers were published in Czech. The first papertakes a look at the role of Gazprom, the second focuses on the role of Russian companies in the nuclear energy and oil industry and the third examines the role of Russian companies in the banking and mechanical engineering sectors.
Summaries of all the briefings are also available in English (1,2,3,4).
Dr. Jana Robinson, PSSI's Space Security Program Director, was a managing team member of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) Study entitled “Space Traffic Management: Towards a Roadmap for Implementation.” The Study was published in July 2018. It will contribute to national and international discussions on a Space Traffic Management (STM) regime. Increased attention has been placed on the need for a comprehensive STM, including through the establishment of STM as an agenda item in the UNCOPUOS Legal Subcommittee and the U.S. policy on STM. This study is expected to contribute greatly to consequent discussions.
This project monitors disinformation narratives in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Within the framework of the project, PSSI's Jonáš Syrovátka contributed to a brief on disinformation narratives surrounding the death of a Slovak investigative journalist Ján Kuciak.
Andrew Davenport addressed the risks and threats associated with Chinese investment activity in Latin America and globally at an event organized by theCenter for a Secure Free Societyon February 27, 2018.A video recap is available here.
PSSI’s Space Security Program Director, Dr. Jana Robinson, participated in a panel discussion at the SSA Policy Forum, part of the annual Advanced Maui Optical and Surveillance (AMOS) Technologies Conference, held in Maui, Hawaii on September 11-14, 2018. Dr. Robinson talked about the challenges confronting U.S. and allied space security interests stemming from China and Russia’s brand of “space partnership” arrangements.
PSSI’s Space Security Program Director, Dr. Jana Robinson, moderated the first session of the12th annual conference of the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI), which was held on September 27–28, 2018 in Vienna. The panel discussed the status of space security strategies and vulnerability of Europe’s space assets, which served as the foundation for subsequent discussions on the future of space security in Europe and transatlantic partnership in this key portfolio.
LECTURES AND DISCUSSIONS
PSSI'S CHAIRMAN AND CO-FOUNDER ROGER W. ROBINSON, JR. GAVE A GUEST LECTURE TO CHARLES UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
Charles University students taking a class on Economic Warfare had a chance to attend a guest lecture by PSSI's Chairman and Co-Founder Roger W. Robinson, Jr. who spoke on Russia and China's activities in the financial and economic domain.
As a former Senior Director of International Economic Affairs at the National Security Council (NSC) in the Reagan administration and the principal architect of the economic and financial strategy for the take-down of the Soviet Union, Mr. Robinson was able to draw interesting parallels between the current situation and the Cold War. He also explained that the CEE region is especially vulnerable because smaller economies allow for a single deal to create a strong grip on a strategic sector.
The panel discussion took place on April 11, 2018 within the framework of the 19th NGO Market, the largest fair of non-profits in Central Europe, which aims to strengthen civil society, encourage cooperation between NGOs and their supporters, as well as promote volunteerism, tolerance, and active citizenship. The discussion hosted speakers from the V4 countries and the U.S. The panel discussed the main challenges posed by the manipulation and propagandizing of media and information, their impact on the region, and proposed how NGOs might use their capacities and influence to respond. A video of the discussion is available here.
Jonáš Syrovátka also co-authored a paper based on recommendations for NGOs resulting from the debate.
PSSI PARTICIPATED IN THE PROJECT "MEDIA LITERACY WEEKS"
On June 14, 2018, PSSI organized a workshop for high-school students focused on the work of non-governmental organizations and their role in democratic society. The workshop was held at the Business Academy and Language School in Liberec. Students learned about the status, mission, and functioning of non-governmental organizations, and were acquainted with organizations working in their city. The event was held within the framework of the project “Media Literacy Weeks” organized by One World in Schools.
On April 16, Dr. Michael Romancov delivered a lecture on the geopolitics of space at the American Center. His lecture provided an overview of the theoretical and practical discussions concerning space power projection of the major spacefaring nations.
On May 18, the American Center kindly hosted Dr. Kai-Uwe Schrogl, Chief Strategy Officer at the European Space Agency (ESA). Dr. Schrogl provided an overview of the ESA’s role in the security dimensions of Europe’s space activities, especially challenges related to defining the scope of these activities for Europe’s major space stakeholders – ESA, the European Union and their respective Member States. A PPT summary of the lecture is available here.
On May 31, 2018, PSSI Senior Fellow, Dr. Martina Šmuclerová, delivered a lecture on "Law and Space Security" at Charles University in Prague. Dr. Šmuclerová presented the general legal framework of space activities, with a focus on space security norms. The overview of space law's general principles was set in the current context of international space politics and was illustrated via three topical legal issues: exploitation of natural resources in outer space, law applicable to suborbital flights, and space debris mitigation measures.
Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta once described cyber warfare as “the most serious threat in the twenty-first century,” capable of destroying our entire infrastructure and crippling the nation. David Venable, Vice President of Cyber Security at Masergy Communications, discussed how the development and dissemination of cyber weapons has changed the nature of the modern geopolitical conflict.
David has over 15 years of experience in information security, with expertise in cryptography, network and application security, vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, and compliance. He is a former intelligence collector with the National Security Agency, with extensive experience in Computer Network Exploitation, Information Operations, and Digital Network Intelligence. He also served as a member of the adjunct faculty at the National Cryptologic School.