'Threats and Challenges of Hybrid Warfare for European Security' was the title of a panel discussion at the National University of Public Service in Budapest this Thursday, opened by the American Chargé d’Affaires and the Ukrainian Ambassador.
Speaking before the panel discussion, organised in partnership with the British, Canadian, Ukrainian and American embassies as part of a program series focusing on Ukraine, the Chargé d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Budapest, David J. Kostelancik stressed that "Ukraine is under attack. We come together today to explore and understand the unique blend of traditional, indirect, and cyber warfare that Russia currently deploys against the people of Eastern Ukraine."
He added that "Russia trains, funds, and arms violent separatists; increases its arsenal of heavy weapons to intimidate and to bully; wields energy as a geostrategic weapon; launches cyberattacks and malicious intrusions against public and governmental networks; and maintains a smokescreen of disinformation and propaganda to mask their actions and foster instability."
The Chargé d’Affaires pointed out that "the United States has found and continues to find Russia’s actions illegal and inhumane. We call for the speedy return of the Crimean peninsula, an end to Russia-backed partisan violence, and the full implementation of the Minsk agreements by all parties, particularly Russia. Our stance on Ukraine has not changed: we support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine."
In her opening remarks, Ukrainian ambassador Liubov Nepop said her country had been facing unconventional warfare. "Ukraine became the first country which faced in practice all forms of new hybrid war." Russia is employing not only conventional military methods against Ukraine but relies greatly on other tools that include propaganda campaigns and energy policy measures, she added.
"This war includes also other important elements such as information, energy, cyber and other tools," she pointed out, highlighting that the hostility also has the military element as "Russian troops were behind the illegal temporary annexation of Crimea and are acting in the east of Ukraine where we have lost already more that 10,000 citizens."
She pointed out that Moscow also uses energy policy as a tool against Ukraine with the aim to block the country’s EU integration efforts by increasing its dependence on Russian gas supplies.