Russia’s current war against Ukraine demonstrated the readiness of the democratic world to unite in the fight for freedom and values. However, there are democracies all over the world in need of protection against autocracies willing to challenge the international order. This report analyzes policies and practices that have impacted Ukraine’s resilience in the face of Russian aggression in seven different sectors:
- Security and defence,
- Energy and critical Infrastructure,
- STRATCOM and countering disinformation,
- Cyber resilience,
- Civil society.
The results of the research comprise positive and negative lessons of Ukraine within the period immediately preceding 24 February 2022 (the start the full-scale invasion) until the end of 2022. Outcomes of this research can be used as recommendations for other democracies building resilience against conventional, hybrid, threats or other threats (e.g., natural disasters) by other countries, from Europe to Pacific. The study was produced by Ukrainian experts from the Information Defense Hub, together with the support of analysts from the European Values Center for Security Policy.
In the example of the Ukrainian experience, several main lessons can be outlined from each sector that was considered in this document:
Security and Defence
- Developing security and defense planning framework that could be both flexible and sustainable and tested in the exercises is a key. The main focus should be given to core elements of the national security while local and regional level security measures should receive proportionate attention as well, where capacity was especially limited. Training, including international programs such as the ones under the auspices of NATO are vital. In addition, mobilizing civilian volunteers and building Territorial Defense Forces (TDF) are factors that significantly strengthen the national defense capability.
- It is essential for the government to support domestic businesses. Small-and-medium sized enterprises will need assistance if they are to survive the war. Such support can reduce the impact of war on the social sphere and provide taxable revenues to the national budget. Contingencies for additional supply chains should be in place.
Energy and Critical Infrastructure
- Diversification of energy sources supplies will help avoid severe shortages in emergency cases. Early preparation of the energy system for potential emergency will reduce their impact in case of occurrence.
Strategic Communications and countering disinformation
- Ukraine’s efforts to improve STRATCOM established state institutions responsible for strategic communications. The Centers united crucial stakeholders to jointly strengthen the information front and further channel of official communications about the war. All the coordination efforts between different governmental institutions brought about a unified and clear governmental STRATCOM in the crucial weeks following February 24.
- Working with civil society will help to protect a country’s information space from attack. Uniting TV channels under the national telethon “Edyni Novyny” (United News) helped to secure a genuinely national information space. It further protected their broadcasting from various disruptions caused by the fighting.
- Cyber-attacks are an integral part of the modern warfare. Based on Ukrainian case, it is crucial to strengthen cyber security internally as well as strengthen cooperation in this realm with international actors, such as intergovernmental organizations and tech businesses. Developing country’s e-governance and introducing agile digital tools for the provision of state services will raise societal resilience.
- Ukrainian civil society played a significant role in providing humanitarian aid to war-affected civilians, documenting war crimes, and crowdfunding for supplies and ammunition for the Armed Forces. This remarkable level of societal mobilization was possible due to the experiences following 2014 and should be capitalized upon during the recovery and reconstruction period.
Ukraine’s lessons in resilience should become the country’s important asset for its further Euro-Atlantic integration. NATO and EU defence structures stand to learn a great deal from Ukrainian’s combat experience. This paper further argues for democracy and democratic alliances. Ukraine is fighting for more than its territory and sovereignty. This is also an ideological conflict between democracy and autocracy as two systems of government. We believe that through the course of war it will become clearer that the agile and egalitarian nature of Ukraine’s democratic principles have bested the vertical hierarchy of autocratic Russia. Resilience and democratic unity will remain fundamental in preserving international peace and stability.