World & Nation

European Union to stage war games to prepare for hybrid threats

Alexander Schallenberg, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Austria, visits Finland, Helsinki - 24 Jun 2019
Finland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto, left, and his Austrian counterpart, Alexander Schallenberg, meet in Helsinki, Finland, on June 24, 2019.
(Auri Ratilainen / EPA/Shutterstock)

European Union ministers will take part in joint war games over coming months to better prepare the bloc for a range of attacks, including cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns.

Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said Thursday that interior and finance ministers from the 28-country bloc will be tasked to respond to fictional scenarios during meetings in Helsinki in July and September. By being able to respond, they will be able to help out authorities on the ground.

“Military and civilian authorities can usually, in crisis time, do only what they have been trained for,” Haavisto said.

Finland has specialized in dealing with the issue and founded the European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats two years ago. The center now has 22 EU and North Atlantic Treaty Organization members.


Haavisto said under-the-radar actions to seek out vulnerabilities have become more prevalent, hence the need to target potential threats in war games. He pointed to Russia’s alleged jamming of GPS signals during military exercises in the Nordics last year as one such example.

“We want the union and member states to strengthen capacities to prevent and respond to hybrid threats,” he said.

Hybrid threats can be based on a wide variety of strategies, including the spread of fake news and cyberattacks on energy or communication systems. Russia has often been blamed for using such tactics.

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