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Sukhoi 35 Russia Security

Traditionally, security is viewed through military approach. Indeed, it does make sense. The 20th century is known for its ideological rivalry between two superpowers. Since nuclear confrontation represented a potential threat to peace, security notion was dominated by military factors. The central countries pursued its own interests, including the exploitation of the countries on the periphery for its own benefits. However, if we take current international, this traditional approach seems to be one-sided. 

Yet, back in 90s, Buzan suggested that international security of the new century would be much “less dominated by military and political issues” (p. 433). Why so? Because there was no more Soviet Union, no arms race: it gave a way to other aspects of security.

Military threat has always been seen as special category, since it involves the use of force. The threat is posed by the military power of other states. It can impair the basic ability of the state to protect its people.

Nuclear powers, in this sense, pose an immense military threat to any country (particularly to nuclear-free). That is why the idea of nuclear non-proliferation is very attractive; it has wide support all over the world. Regardless, there was not much progress among the superpowers towards their own nuclear disarmament since the massive reduction in nuclear and strategic forces after the end of the Cold War.  Conversely, for the last decade Russia has been strengthening its nuclear power. Similar calls have been recently made by the newly-elected president of the United States. Donald Trump suggested that America should expand its nuclear weapons program, thus, pursue peace through threat. As far back as in 90s, Buzan pointed out that the success or failure to reach nuclear-free world would greatly influence security and military relations (p. 443). The ambitions of North Korea show that not every country is ready to give up the ability to develop its nuclear arsenals. So, nuclear zero remains rather hard to achieve and nuclear threat persists.

However, as mentioned before, today’s security is not just about military threat (although it is significant). The world we live in is multi-polar, all of us are interconnected. Let’s say we live in a country, free from nuclear threat. Are we still secured from economic collapses or from the influence of climate change?

Economic Security

Economic security is about access to resources, finances and markets that are necessary to maintain political power and the high level of living. It is threatened when national economic system is weak. In this sense, developed countries are trying to maintain their standard of living, and developing countries are doing what they can to improve their own. In this environment international competition is quite strong. That is why strong nations may economically leverage weaker opponents in order to prevail militarily and technologically and achieve its political goals.

Meanwhile, economic threats are hard to identify because of its nature. For example, the recent economic crisis could be a good example. What should be tackled first has been debated for a long time. Now experts, researchers and politicians are arguing what should be done in order to prevent another economic blast. The economic sector clearly shows how different aspects interact with each other.

Moreover, economic and military security is interconnected. For instance, military budget can be constrained, limited or cut due to economic reasons. Furthermore, in the current framework of mutual economic interdependence and accelerated international trade, economic security might become the most significant one. If a state has more powerful economic security, it is easier to maintain other aspects of security. Vice versa, if a state has poor economy, it is hard to keep the national security strong, thus such a state may be leveraged.

Environmental Security

Here the threat is posed by disruption of ecosystem and scarce recourses. Nowadays protection of environment plays a significant role in security agenda. In this sense, the recent Paris Agreement (2015) can be viewed as an attempt to strengthen countries’ security against the overwhelming “conditions that can threaten human existence on a large scale” (Buzan 1991, p. 450). A comprehensive climate policy, apart from the main goals to mitigate the effects of climate change, also addresses adaptation mechanisms to deal with loss and damage caused by global warming (See the Paris Agreement 2015).

The desire to maintain climate may give additional reasons for powerful developed countries to intervene in less developed countries under the name of environmental security. The relations between countries would be affected if the effects of climate change deepened. Natural disasters may inevitable become a driving force for human migration and this, in turn, would change the balance of power in the future.

Global warming threatens not just the way the people lead their lives, but the mere existence of humanity and the planet Earth. Diminishing capabilities of ozone layer to protect the planet can cause floods and fires, eliminate forests and plankton, ultimately causing countries to adapt and deal with the environmental issues in order to protect their state. Sussane Droge from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs points out that current interest in efficient climate policy is fueled by the obvious energy benefits (2016, p. 32). It means greater security and technological progress.

Political Security

Political security concerns the stability of political systems and organizational stability of the state. If this aspect is weakened, it shutters the state as an entity. That is why it can be considered as important as military security. Here the state sovereignty is usually threatened.

The Human Development Report of 1994 places political security as one of the main categories of threats to human security (UNDP 1994, p. 25). Paradoxically, political sector is one of the most challenging. All threats can be viewed as political (See Jahn, Lemaitre & Waever 1987). So, for instance, under economic security, it is usually meant political-economic security, under military one – military-political security and so on.

However, the sector exists and usually consists of political threats. Buzan (1983) describes them as “pressuring the government on a particular policy, overthrowing the government, and disrupting the political fabric of the state” (p. 118), they aim to destabilize the government system and make it easy to perform a military attack.

The national identity and its ideology are a target of political threats. Interestingly, that new changes of the Russian military doctrine recognizes the rising of ideological clashes. They are carefully called “the competition of values and development models” (See “the Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation”). Such a statement admits ideological competitions and, consequently, reflects the difference of values between Russia and other countries.

All of aforementioned sectors are interlinked and have importance of their own. So when approaching international and national security, one must take them into account. So if we talk about survival of the state now, it depends not so much on military factors but as on the whole complex of factors (political, military, economic, and environmental). Theoretically speaking, if we are free from military threat, it does not mean that we are secured in other ways. The notion of security is way broader than just military approach.

References

Buzan, B. (1983). People, States and Fear: The National Security Problem in International Relations. Hertfordshire: Harvester Wheatsheaf.

Buzan, B. (1991). “New Patterns of Global Security in the Twenty-First Century”, International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944), 63:3, 431-451.

Droge, S. (2016). The Paris Agreement 2015 Turning Point for the International Climate Regime. Retrieved from <https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/196211/2016RP04_dge.pdf> on 27/12/16.

Jahn, E., Lemaitre, P., & Waever, O. (1987) European Security: Problems of Research on Non-Military Aspects. Copenhagen: Centre for Peace and Conflict Research.

“The Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation”. Approved by the President of the Russian Federation on February 5, 2010, Decree №146 (Edited in 2014). Retrieved from <http://kremlin.ru/supplement/461> on 02/01/2017.

UNDP (United Nations Development Programme). (1994). Human Development Report. Retrieved from <http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/reports/255/hdr_1994_en_complete_nostats.pdf> on 03/01/2017.

UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). (2015). The Paris Agreement. Retrieved from <http://unfccc.int/files/essential_background/convention/application/pdf/english_paris_agreement.pdf> on 26/12/16.

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Specialist in global security and nuclear disarmament. Excited about international relations, curious about cognitive, psycho- & neuro-linguistics. A complete traveller.

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Opinion

On the issue of cyber security of critical infrastructures

Alexandra Goman

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There is a lot of talk in regards to cyberattacks nowadays. A regular user worries about its data and tries to secure by all means necessary. Yet, no one really thinks whether the power plants or nuclear facilities are well secured. Everyone assumes that they should be secured.

The reality, however, differs. According to many reports of cyber security companies, there is an increased risk of cyberattacks, targeting SCADA and ICS. Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) is used for the systems that control physical equipment – power plants, oil and gas pipelines, they can also control or monitor processes such as heating or energy consumption. Along with Industrial Control Systems (ICS) they control critical elements of industrial automation processes. Exploiting vulnerabilities of critical infrastructures can lead to the consequences of unimaginable scale. (These types of attacks are actually used in a cyberwar scenarios and hypothetical military settings).

Source: Fortinet, 2015

There are many reasons why these systems are vulnerable for attacks. First of all, the main problem is that these systems have an old design; they were built before they were connected to any networks. They were later configured to connect via Ethernet, and that’s when they became a part of a larger infrastructure. The more advanced SCADA system is becoming, the more vulnerabilities are these to exploit. The updates should be regular and on time. Secondly, there is a lack of monitoring. New devices that are connected allow remote monitoring, but not all devices have the same reporting capabilities. There are also authentication issues (weak passwords, authentication process), however, this is supposed to restrict unauthorized access (See Common SCADA Threats and Vulnerabilities at Patriot Technologies, Inc. Online).

In these scenarios, there is no certainty to know what is going to backfire because of the complexity of communications and power networks. This is also called a cascading effect of attacks. Not knowing who is connected to who may cause major disruptions. The example of the US East Coast power blackout in 2003 proves this point (a failure in one element of the grid spreads across other electrical networks). However, given this, it is also complicated for an attacker to predict consequences, if an attack executed. This kind of attack can easily escalate into more serious conflict, so it might not be the best option for states to employ such methods.

Moreover, there is a risk to damage a critical infrastructure unintentionally. That is if a virus or worm did not intend to target SCADA but happen to spread there as well. The uncontrollability of the code may seriously impair the desire to use it, especially when it comes to nation-states. For instance, in 2003 a worm penetrated a private network of the US Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station and disabled a safety monitoring system for 5 hours. In 2009, French fighter jets could not take off because they were infected with a virus.

Indeed, a scenario where an attacker gains access to a SCADA system and manipulates with the system, causing disruptions on a large-scale, might be hypothetical but it does not make it less possible in the future. However, the only known case so far, which affected an industrial control centre, is Stuxnet. It did not result in many deaths, yet it drew attention of the experts on the plausibility of future more sophisticated attacks. These potential upcoming attacks might cause the level of destruction, comparable to that of a conventional attack, therefore resulting in war.

Further reading:

Bradbury, D. (2012). SCADA: a Critical Vulnerability. Computer Fraud & Security, 4, p. 11-14.

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Briefly about the Russian Political Discourse

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As you may have noticed, the recent international discourse has been rotating around Russia and its relations to other countries for a long time. Needless to say that after the events in Georgia/Ukraine, this discourse is far from friendly. Some even say that rhetoric of the Cold War has returned. What makes people abroad wonder is why Russia chooses to respond to its foreign partners in this particular way? Why is it the way it is?

To begin with, there are several reasons that shape Russian rhetoric. First of all, they are historical and cultural values. Russia sees itself as a defender of its rights and identity and someone who is not going to follow someone else’s rules. Back to the 13th century, the grand prince (rus. knyaz) Aleksander Nevsky only accepted submission  to the Golden Horde to protect the Russian culture and belief, therefore depriving the West of the opportunity to take over its territories.  This mentality still governs the minds of people. Today, current political rhetoric is doing the same by refusing the Western pressure and external interference into its business.

After the Golden Horde, Russia has managed to maintain its unity. Back then, the East saw the country to be an heir to the great Byzantine Empire. Meanwhile, the enormous size of the country was rather intimidating; and even more, when it started acquiring new territories (remember reaction to the situation with Crimea).

On the one hand, Moscow tries to present itself strong when it communicates with the Europe; on the other hand, the Western neighbours seem to use the same old-fashioned strategy to isolate the big neighbour. Since the time of Ivan the Terrible, no one really has wanted strong and stable Russia and there were steps before to prevent the unity of Eurasia.

The long history of Russia plays a big role in forming the modern mind of the citizen and current political rhetoric. Russian people and the government would not admit defeat and would do anything possible to prevail, even if it means to live in humble circumstances for some time (think of the continuous sanctions).

The tough policy of Peter the Great, the emperor of Russia, has brought the country to a new level in comparison to others. At that time already, all the international questions were only resolved with the help of Russia. In the following years, the power of the country kept growing only to solidify during the rule of Catherine the Great. The famous grand chancellor of Russia and the chief of foreign policy Bezborodko used to say, “I don’t know how it will be at your time, but at this time not a single gun is allowed to fire without our permission”[1]. Now, Russia tries to achieve similar influence.

The period after the World War II proved to be fruitful for the development of the European countries. While the US and USSR were competing, Europe was free from deciding on serious issues, so it could absorb and enjoy the time of quiet development.

Nonetheless, there has been a clear confrontation between the two ideologies, Nazism and Communism. Even though the USSR did not try to exterminate the nations, the scary ghost of the USSR keeps frightening the rest of the world. The impression of “evil USSR” flying over the international relations is still there and penetrates the minds of the people.

After the collapse of the USSR, there was a chance to promote peace and peaceful coexistence.  Russia has repeatedly expressed its interest in it, yet the Western partners have chosen another way:  NATO enlargement to the East (which is believed to be a broken promise).  Interestingly enough, George Kennan, the so-called creator of containment policy of Soviet expansion, considered the NATO expansion a tragic mistake.

All in all, abovementioned factors play a significant role in shaping the Russian political discourse. Cultural and historical values, national pride (and therefore negative feeling towards the Western sanctions) as well as the use of state symbols to unite the country are the most important rhetoric tools in the Russian language arsenal. Its constant and regular transmission through the media and other communication channels make this rhetoric influential and persuasive.

[1] [URL: http://www.istmira.com/istoriya-rossii-s-drevnejshix-vremen-do-nashix/290-kakovy-itogi-i-posledstviya-vneshnej-politiki.html] [дата обращения: 20.05.2016]

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Yes, You Should Start Caring About Politics!

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One of the most common things that you hear from people a lot of the time is something along the lines of “I just don’t really care about politics.” In fact, you might have even said something along those lines yourself. And it can be tempting to fall into this line of thinking. After all, politics are hardly the most exciting or exotic things in the world. However, the truth is that they impact your life in different ways every single day and if you choose to ignore politics, then that just meant that you’re going to end up falling victim to policies that harm you and the people around you. With that in mind, here are some ways that you can start being more politically minded right now.

Know the issues

Do you know where you stand on many of the most important issues of the modern day? Do you know what most of those issues are? The truth is that many people would rather ignore a lot of the problems that society and the world at large face simply because it can feel as though they’re too big to deal with. Things like the economy, climate change, and social justice aren’t just abstract concepts; they’re things that impact the lives of real people every single day. Being more informed about the issues will allow you to have a much better understanding of your own political views.

Know who to speak to

Do you know who your senator is? Your representative? Most people tend to only know major politicians who have held office at one point or another. Sure, you probably know the president or a senator like John Mccain. But what about all of the other senators like Doug Jones or Mike Crapo? These are the people you can actually contact if you want to start making some changes in the world. Getting to know who you can contact can help you feel much more involved in the modern political process.

Forget about personalities and focus on policies

Modern politics has become as much of a game of personalities as anything else. But the truth is that the personalities of individual politicians are far less important than the policies that they and their party want to enact. After all, the policies are the things that will actually make a difference in people’s lives. You should never vote just because you like or dislike the way that a particular politician talks or what their personality seems to be like. Always vote on policies, not personalities.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you should suddenly let politics take over every conversation that you have or that you need to be constantly thinking about it. But trying to bury your head in the sand and ignore the things that are going on around you isn’t going to do you any good. The only way that you can start to make some genuine changes in the world is if you face up to the realities of the modern world and try to do something about it.

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