Russia vs. EU: Confrontation in a Contested Neighbourhood. A Challenge to the Helsinki Accords

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The Helsinki Final Act of 1975, that concluded the first Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, reaffirmed the fundamental principle of renouncing the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. Through this agreement, the Soviet Union gained the implicit recognition of the ‘sphere of influence’ that was determined in Eastern Europe after the end of World War II. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, a series of conflicts arose between the Russian Federation and its neighbors, some of which are members of the European Union or participate in the European Neighbourhood Policy. Some of these conflicts were fought at the kinetic level, some other through the resort to hybrid warfare, a blend of traditional and irregular tactics that makes overt and covert use of a wide range of tools: military and civilian, conventional and unconventional, including information and influence operations. This paper aims to investigate the hybrid warfare strategy carried out by the Russian Federation in the confrontation with the European Union to regain dominance in its contested neighbourhood: the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), Ukraine (Crimea and Donbass, i.e. Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics), Georgia (South Ossetia and Abkhazia) and Moldova (Transnistria).

Keywords: Hybrid Warfare; Information Warfare; Soft Power; Nationalism; NATO

Marco Marsili | CEI-Iscte, Portugal

Dr Marsili holds research positions in civil and military institutions in Portugal (CIEP-UCP, CEI-IUL, CINAMIL, CIDIUM). He conducts his research in the broad area of international relations, with a specific focus on international law, international humanitarian law, fundamental human rights, terrorism, counterterrorism, security and defence and to the question of self-determination, independence and statehood. Recently, he devoted himself to the study of hybrid warfare and unconventional conflicts, including the new warfare domains and high-tech weapons. Graduated in Political sciences and international relations and in Institutional communication, both cum laude, he holds an advanced diploma and a PhD in History, Studies of Security and Defense from the ISCTE – Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), jointly with a European PhD title granted with the Università degli Studi Niccolò Cusano (Rome, Italy) and an advanced diploma in Political Science and International Relations: Security and Defense from the Institute for Political Studies of the Catholic University of Portugal (IEP-UCP), where he is taking a second PhD. Dr Marsili is the recipient of grants, fellowships, awards and prizes. In 2016 he was awarded with the ISCTE-IUL Scientific Award. In 2018 he was the recipient of a research fellowship funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), Portugal, and by the European Social Fund. In 2019 he was awarded with a research grant from the Knights of Vartan Fund for Armenian Studies administered by the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), US. In 2020 Dr Marsili won the 14th edition of the European Research and Mobility Grant for European Studies 2020/Charles V European Award – Antonio Tajani, by the European and Ibero-American Academy of Yuste Foundation, Spain. In 2020 received also a Short-Term Grant for Armenian Studies from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Portugal. Dr Marsili participated in many international conferences and has published 12 books (two refereed monographies), contributions in edited books and several articles in academic journals (U.S., U.K., Brazil, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, etc.). He is member of the International Political Science Association (IPSA) and of the affiliated Portuguese Political Science Association (APCP) and reviewer and article editor for SAGE Open (Impact Factor: 0.715) and for the Revista de Ciências Militares, the Portuguese Journal of Military Sciences published by the Military University Institute (IUM). Currently Dr Marsili is engaged as cyber defence and cyber security expert in two studies commissioned by the European Defence Agency (EDA) and run by an international military-civilian consortium. He is also principal researcher in two projects supported by the Fund for Bilateral Relations under EEA Grants 2014-2021. Dr Marsili serves as electoral observer for OSCE/ODIHR and as EU Aid Volunteer. He also served in the Italian Air Force and was professor of journalism at the University of Insubria in Varese, and coordinator of the Master in Communication and Multimedia Journalism.