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PizzaSeminar am 21.06.2016: NATO: Rethink-Realign-React

The Berlin launch of the publication NATO: Rethink Realign React. Tackling Security Challenges Together took place on June 21.

Participants in the Berlin conversation tackled several crucial issues concerning CEE security, and discussed NATO’s response to three rising challenges – terrorism, cybersecurity and propaganda. The presentation, based on one of the publication’s chapters, was given by:


•             Greta Monika Tučkutė, Director, Center for Geopolitical Studies, Lithuania

•             Przemysław Piotr Żurawski vel Grajewski, Advisor to the Polish Foreign Minister, Representative of the Polish President’s National Development Council

•             Dr. Christoph Schwegmann, Senior Advisor, German Ministry of Defense

•             Tyson Barker, Senior Research Fellow at BIGS and former US State Department Official


The discussion was moderated by Dr Tim Stuchtey, BIGS Executive Director.

Greta Tuckute underlined the challenge of facing Russian propaganda as a part of Russia’s hybrid warfare in Europe, especially visible in the Baltic states and Ukraine. She pointed out that the perception of Russia is different across Europe, from the Baltic and Poland where the threat is pervasive and existential to countries like Germany which take a less antagonistic approach to Russia.

On the NATO front, German soldiers on the Baltic ground are seen positively. The Baltic states are against softening the sanctions against Russia or any action that might embolden Russia to believe aggression against a foreign country lacks consequences..

“I wish that after the NATO summit in Warsaw, the alliance will adapt to current challenges and find a way to react properly – concerns of all member states should be taken into account,” Tuckute underscored.

She stated that one of the difficulties with all three rising challenges was ascribing competence to the proper state and Alliance institutions. What’s more Paris and Brussel also attacks highlighted the fact that, these countries not always pay enough attention to undertake relevant measures.

Przemysław Żurawski vel Grajewski contended that NATO should remain united and be divided into eastern and southern flanks. “Principle of solidarity should be demonstrated in all dimensions”. “We cannot afford wishful thinking of Russia” he pointed out. “The people ruling this country are not naive,” stressed Żurawski, “they don’t feel threaten by NATO. We have to signal to Russia in terms that they understand.   EU sanctions, for instance, send a clear message to the Kremlin that Russia’s policy is inacceptable in Europe.”| Przemysław Żurawski underscored the Polish perspective that the sanctions against Russia must remain in place until Minsk is fully implemented. He pointed to Transnistria as another example of conflict rooted in Russia’s use of ethnic tension, separatism and military support.

Dr. Christoph Schwegmann underlined that NATO has to find solutions and answers to many problems, but it should not forget that the Soviet Union doesn’t exist anymore. He expressed a clear need for dialogue and deterrence in NATO’s relationship [with Russia and noted it is unlikely that NATO policy towards Russia will change significantly following the NATO summit. Schwegmann added however that we should pay more attention to solidarity and make it more visible. He emphasized that NATO must continue the dialogue with its members and with Russia, despite different challenges and difficult negotiations. NATO is more than military organization, he concluded.

Tyson Barker presented the differences in understanding the role of state between Russia and the EU countries – President Putin understands openness of the state as a weakness. He agreed that Russian propaganda is one of the instruments in the current conflict in Ukraine and that Russia is using these grey tools elsewhere like the Baltics but pointed out that responsibility for managing the rising threats must fall primarily on governments, private sector and societies rather than on alliances. When it comes to cybersecurity, we should also pay more attention to protecting governments, as the leaks have their source more often on the state level or in political parties than on international level. What’s more, we should work to strengthen media training and democratic institutions, he claimed.


The discussion was moderated by Dr. Tim Stuchtey, BIGS Executive Director.

The ARD mentioned the event in one of their repots on the NATO Summit in Warsaw. The Audiofile in German can be found here.