Thank you, Ambassador Yelchenko, for raising this important issue and for organizing this meeting. And thank you also to our four speakers this morning for your very informative interventions.
The issue of hybrid war as a threat to international peace and security is indeed a subject worthy of our serious attention and consideration. There are numerous examples of hybrid warfare techniques being deployed to weaken democratic institutions and to destabilize free and open societies. Throughout Europe, for example, Russia is using a variety of approaches, termed “malign influence,” such as through covert support to political parties, backing front groups, and opaque investments in key sectors, to build political and diplomatic leverage.
All this takes place under an umbrella of Russian propaganda and disinformation that makes full use of existing technologies, including well-known Russian government media platforms such as RT and Sputnik and the infamous internet “troll farms.” Russia’s tactics in Crimea are another example of warfare by other means. Russia began its occupation of Crimea through a transparent fiction of “little green men” – in reality, uniformed Russian forces stripped of their unit insignia who forced an illegitimate referendum at gun point.
It has continued its occupation there by clinging to the same threadbare story and by denying the truth. Multilateral efforts, such as the NATO StratCom Center of Excellence in Riga and Finland’s proposed European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, provide useful fora for nations to compare notes, share best practices, and develop strategic responses to the hybrid warfare threat.
The United States supports the aims of these centers, and is grateful for opportunities to discuss this threat in multilateral settings, such as this one, which the Mission of Ukraine organized today. As we committed with our allies at the NATO Summit in Warsaw, the United States will continue to explore options to build our shared capacity to respond to hybrid threats. Thank you, Ambassador.