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Security Brief: EUCOM Week of December 13, 2021

Week of Monday, December 13, 2021 | Issue 55

Federica Calissano, Martyna Dobrowolska, Pètra van de Gevel, EUCOM Team


The German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock[1]


Date: December 13, 2021

Location: Germany

Parties involved: German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock; EU; Russian government; Ukrainian government; England; English factories; North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

The event: Annalena Baerbock stated that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which aims to transport natural gas from Russia into the EU with Germany as the arriving point, could not be approved because it is not in line with EU energy law. This decision comes amid increasing tensions between the Russian and Ukrainian governments, with around 100,000 Russian troops deployed along the Russian border with Ukraine. Gas prices have increased to record highs across England and the EU, with some English factories fearing they might close before having to face unbearable financial costs.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • European gas prices will very likely keep rising as Russia will likely reduce its gas exports to the EU during negotiations for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. It is likely that many European countries, like England, will face shutdowns of factories, due to financial struggles to afford a rise in gas prices by major energy suppliers. This shutdown will likely have a severe economic impact on Europe’s general population, as they will very likely face an increase in energy bills.

  • Russia will likely increase its military presence on the border with Ukraine to push the EU towards the approval of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. If Russia were to invade Ukraine, the EU and NATO would very likely militarily respond in Ukraine’s defense. The EU would almost certainly impose severe economic sanctions on Russia, which will likely negatively impact the Russian economy. Russian public discontent towards Russian military decisions will very likely rise as the public will likely face Russia’s economic struggles, generated by both the EU’s sanctions and by Russian military investments.

Date: December 13, 2021

Location: Craiova, Romania

Parties involved: Romanian government; Poliția Română (Romanian National Police); European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation’s (EUROPOL) European Cybercrime Centre (EC3); US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Unspecified Romanian information technology (IT) company; Romanian citizen; Bitcoin; Law enforcement agencies; Organized criminal groups; Terrorist groups

The event: A joint collaboration between EC3, the Romanian National Police, and the FBI ended with the detention of a 41-year-old Romanian citizen. The criminal is suspected of deploying ransomware and stealing sensitive information from an unspecified Romanian IT company that delivers services to clients in the retail, utilities, and energy sectors. The suspect is also accused of demanding a ransom payment in cryptocurrency, threatening to publish the stolen data should his requests not be satisfied.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • If the name of the Romanian IT company is disclosed, the company will very likely lose its current and potential clients for not having adequate policies on preventing cybercrime. This will very likely lead to the company’s economic loss, followed by reputational damage. The population will very likely request Romania’s government to check if Romanian IT companies comply with cybersecurity regulations. People will likely trust a company if they are aware it has stable and up-to-date policies that aim to prevent cybercriminals from expanding their activities.

  • The criminal use of cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, is very likely to rise due to the anonymity it provides to its users. Individuals who support specific criminal or terrorist groups will likely raise funds through cryptocurrencies with the aim of financing criminal activities and helping with the spread of extremist ideologies. Payment with cryptocurrency is very likely to make it harder for law enforcement to detect, track, and flag suspicious activities, likely becoming the most suitable method used by criminals. The use of cryptocurrency will almost certainly pose a security threat at a global level, encouraging countries to review their internal policies on terrorism financing.

Date: December 14, 2021

Location: Ankara, Turkey

Parties involved: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusuglu; Turkish government; Armenian government; Armenian population; Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan; Armenian and Turkish envoys; Azerbaijani government; Russian government; The Minsk Group; French government; US government

The event: Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Cavusuglu, announced that Turkey and Armenia will start appointing special envoys to discuss steps on how to normalize ties between the two countries. Cavusuglu stated that Turkey will consult with Azerbaijan in every step of the reconciliation process. Since 1993, the Turkish border with Armenia has remained closed to show solidarity with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The conflict mainly led to the disappearance of diplomatic ties and an increase in mutual hostility between Turkey and Armenia as Turkey’s military intervened in the conflict, supporting Azerbaijan. The conflict allowed the Russian government to expand its military influence in Nagorno-Karabakh, supporting Armenia by supplying arms and guarding Armenia’s border with Turkey.[4] On an international level, the Minsk Group, co-chaired by France, Russia, and the US, spearheads efforts to find a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.[5]

Analysis & Implications:

  • As Turkey openly supported Azerbaijan during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Armenian population will almost certainly not accept reconciliation with Turkey. It is very likely that Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan will face criticism from the Armenian population for attempting to normalize ties with Turkey, and they will very likely call for his resignation. The Armenian population will likely lose faith in the government, resulting in protests that denounce the reconciliation process. This will likely hinder peace negotiations between the countries.

  • Turkish-Armenian rapprochement will likely dilute Russian influence in Armenia as efforts will be made to bring peace in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, meaning Armenia will likely no longer be in need of Russian military support.

  • It is unlikely Azerbaijan fears the diplomatic efforts between Turkey and Armenia as Azerbaijan would likely benefit economically from peace between the two countries. Turkey very likely wants to increase trade and transport links with Azerbaijan, meaning it likely wants to use Armenia as a transport corridor to gain direct access to Azerbaijan and other markets in the Caucasus. The corridor would give Turkey direct access to Azerbaijan, making it almost certain that trade and exports with Azerbaijan will increase, very likely benefiting the country economically.

  • Turkey is very likely interested in the normalization of ties with Armenia as this poses the possibility to bolster its influence in the Caucasus region. Turkey’s goal is likely to increase its regional hegemonic power and eventually influence Armenian politics. Since Turkey very likely wants to become a regional power, it is likely the country wants to become a co-chair of the Minsk Group, allowing Turkey to have more power in political debates, decisions, and negotiations regarding a peaceful settlement in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

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[1]Annalena Baerbock” by Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung licensed under Creative Commons

[2] Gas prices near record highs as Berlin rejects pipeline from Russia, The Guardian, December 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/dec/13/gas-prices-near-record-highs-berlin-rejects-pipeline-russia-germany-ukraine-nord-stream-2

[3] Arrest in Romania of a ransomware affiliate scavenging for sensitive data, Europol, December 2021, https://www.europol.europa.eu/media-press/newsroom/news/arrest-in-romania-of-ransomware-affiliate-scavenging-for-sensitive-data

[4] Turkey, Armenia to appoint envoys in bid to normalize ties, AP News, December 2021, https://apnews.com/article/europe-middle-east-turkey-ankara-mevlut-cavusoglu-d93db56d826e8840d068d90c3c99bd26

[5] OSCE Minsk Group, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, n.d., https://www.osce.org/mg


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