Maritime hybrid threats under the loupe at Hybrid CoE

Russia’s attack on Ukraine and other recent international developments have accentuated the importance of studying the maritime domain to detect vulnerabilities to potential future hybrid threat operations.

Hybrid CoE’s flagship publication from 2019, the Handbook on Maritime Hybrid Threats, is currently being updated with at least five new scenarios. To gain feedback on the process from all Participating States, the Centre held a workshop on 22 April for relevant representatives and experts to map out potential new maritime threats to be included in the updated Handbook, which is due to be published by the end of the year.

The current edition of the Handbook presents ten hybrid threat scenarios with the potential to be realized in any part of the world, involving complex legal considerations in the context of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“Unfortunately, it’s likely that we’ll see some of the scenarios realized in the near future. For instance, our Scenario 4 describing harassment of sea lines of communication by means of military exercises has become very relevant in the current international context,” stated Jukka Savolainen, Director of the Community of Interest on Vulnerabilities and Resilience. 

“It’s very important for our Participating States, the EU and NATO to be ready to respond in such situations. The first step in establishing preparedness is to understand the legal frameworks concerned in each possible situation. The issues are complex and they require in-depth expertise in international law. Rapidly emerging situations require quick decision-making, firstly by maritime operators and soon after at the political level as well. If the legal aspects are not known, the decisions risk unintentional escalation. Legal argumentation of this nature, if started from scratch, may take days or weeks.”

“Legal preparedness is not the only aspect to be strengthened. We are there to help in organizing operational and political-level decision-making exercises as well,” Jukka Savolainen emphasized.

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