NATO’s 2022 Strategic Concept reaffirmed its commitment to NATO’s founding principles and to its core mission of collective defence and security in a Euro-Atlantic zone definitively ‘not at peace’.
It also reiterated its long-held view that cyberspace, the global domain of interconnected information technologies and data, is ‘contested at all times’ by a range of state and non-state actors. Set against the backdrop of widespread competition in cyberspace between military and intelligence agencies, firms, criminals, hackers, hacktivists and assorted adventurers, this assertion is hard to deny.
Awareness of this situation is heightened by the cyber campaign integral to Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine. This war has demonstrated the stakes of strategic competition in cyberspace, as Russia seeks to degrade and disrupt Ukraine’s military, government and civilian networks and all that depend upon them. That Russia has so far failed to achieve strategic effect in Ukraine through cyber means should not distract from the potential to do so, nor from the friction introduced into the Ukrainian war effort and wider society by Russian military-intelligence cyber operations.
Russian attempts to derail Ukraine’s military defence and to disrupt civilian life have demonstrated the limited utility of cyber operations to strategic coercion, but we should remain mindful of the resources and resolve necessary to rebuff Russian cyber operations over long periods of time. The possibilities for miscalculation and horizontal escalation also remain pertinent to our long-term assessment of Russian offensive cyber operations in Ukraine. Learn More /…