Eitvydas Bajarūnas about hybrid threats

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The former Ambassador of Lithuania to Sweden, Eitvydas Bajarūnas, came back to Stockholm and had an evening presentation on hybrid threats.

The modern world has many growing challenges in the economic, social and security spheres. And of course, the new challenges associated with hybrid threats. How is Lithuania ready to meet these challenges? Do they have sufficient resilience? And how to increase it?

We heard the latest from the former Ambassador of Lithuania to Sweden, Eitvydas Bajarūnas, who served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1994 and worked in Ministry of Defense and NATO. His former assignment was as head of the Foreign Ministry’s political unit, which ended in 2011 when he became an ambassador to Sweden. For over ten years, the Baltic countries fought to enter both the EU and NATO. On March 29, 2004, Lithuania became a member of NATO and a few months later, Lithuania became a member of the EU on 1 May 2004. Today also, one of Lithuania’s biggest challenge is linked to the country’s energy supply. The goal is to be independent in that they do not have to rely on Russia to get energy. But the government of Lithuania is to take action to halt the construction of the Astravyets nuclear power plant in Belarus, 55 km away from Vilnius. The parliament has insisted on the government officially informing Belarus that power produced in Astravyets will not be permitted to enter the Lithuanian power grid and will not be sold in Lithuania. The construction of the Astravyets nuclear power plant, initiated in 2001, has reached an advanced stage. Russia is expected to supply it with an innovative VVER 1200 type reactor made in Russia, with a capacity of 1.2 GW, which will be cooled with water from the Neris, the river which flows through Vilnius. Production is planned to be launched in 2018, and the second reactor is planned to be put into operation by 2020.

Talking about hybrid threats. So far Britain, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and the United States have signed up to the Finnish initiative, a new center on hybrid warfare center in Helsinki.. So have the European Union and NATO. (Except Estonia who has not yet sign up to the Finnish initiative). The hybrid threats are a European and a transatlantic priority. This is true, but could be news to most people.

Western efforts against hybrid warfare have so far been low-key to the point of invisibility. In most countries, efforts against Russian hybrid warfare are run by the intelligence and security agencies. Resilience by technicians and politicians is the answer of Lithuania today. Secrecy at this stage is not necessarily a bad thing: Russia’s espionage agencies are an essential part of the Kremlin’s hybrid-war offensive against the West. Russia has for years enjoyed the advantages of stealth and anonymity. Not any more: technicians can start tracking their efforts, infiltrating their networks, and running deception operations to confuse and distract them.

The best way to defeat hybrid attacks is by developing a strong, resilient security system which pervades the whole of society. Russian influence can crop up in the media, in finance, in government, in academia, in fact, almost anywhere. Nobody want university administrators, businessmen, newspaper editors or politicians taking instructions from fake news. At most spies can give tips and warnings—but the resulting decisions must be taken autonomously and also eventually prevail any hybrid threats.

The Lithuanian embassy served light snacks and coffee and then continued our discussion at the new restaurant “AT SIX” in Stockholm together with the Lithuanian diplomat Mr.Eitvydas Bajarunas.

”Putin’s Russia” by Eitvydas Bajarunas

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