COUNTERING HYBRID THREATS
We live in an era of hybrid influencing. There are state and non-state actors that are challenging countries and institutions they see as a threat, opponent or competitor to their interests and goals. The range of methods and activities is wide: influencing information; logistical weaknesses like energy supply pipelines; economic and trade-related blackmail; undermining international institutions by rendering rules ineffective; terrorism or increasing insecurity.
Hybrid threats are methods and activities that are targeted towards vulnerabilities of the opponent. Vulnerabilities can be created by historical memory, legislation, old practices, geostrategic factors, strong polarisation of society, technological disadvantages or ideological differences. If the interests and goals of the user of hybrid methods and activity are not achieved, the situation can escalate into hybrid warfare where the role of military and violence will increase significantly.
Hybrid tactics have been under discussion, in particular, since the conflict in Ukraine and the ISIL/Da’esh campaign in Iraq. Hybrid threats have a connection to both Eastern and Southern challenges. In order to meet the challenges, it is important to develop integrated national responses, including threat analysis, self-assessment of vulnerabilities and comprehensive security approach. An integrated international response – including EU and NATO efforts – is needed to support the assessment of threats and vulnerabilities as well as coordinated action.