Preparing for a Post-Armed Conflict Strategic Environment

Policies in response to and trends in the Russia-Ukraine armed conflict portend a post-armed conflict strategic environment that will pose a strategic challenge in and through cyberspace to NATO and its member states. By considering Russia’s unchanging motivation to manage the security architecture of Europe and the novel Russian capability profile that Western policies intend to influence, this paper posits two alternative cyber security futures, for both of which NATO is arguably not yet prepared. Recent calls for NATO to adopt a proactive cyber posture and descriptions of what that would entail are necessary but insufficient for preparing NATO for this forthcoming strategic challenge – NATO should also establish a proactive cyber operational element that continuously campaigns to ensure the security of its member states and partners. It is further proposed that this element would generate an additional benefit of addressing concerns raised by those who argue that the elevation of China in strategic guidance will distract from addressing the Russian strategic challenge.

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