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TURKISH PARLIAMENT DELAYS SWEDISH NATO BID AND UKRAINE FIRES CYBER OFFICIALS FOR $1.72M EMBEZZLEMENT

November 16-22, 2023 | Issue 41 - EUCOM and Counter Threat Strategic Communications Team

Dan Flanagan, Barbara Batycka, Sophia Ritscher

Mia Sadler, Editor; Evan Beachler, Senior Editor


Seal Of Turkish Parliament[1]


Date: November 16, 2023

Location: Turkey

Parties involved: Sweden; Swedish government; Swedish citizens; Turkey; Turkish government; the Turkish Parliament, Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM); Chairman of the Turkish Parliament foreign affairs commission, Fuat Oktay; Turkish Parliament foreign affairs committee; Turkish lawmakers; USA; US Congress; Hungary; NATO; Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK); Kurdish militants; US-Kurdish allies; NATO; prospective NATO members

The event: The Turkish Parliament postponed a vote on Swedish accession into NATO based on previous dissatisfaction with the Swedish stance on Kurdish militants. Turkey does not see Swedish accession efforts, including a new anti-terrorism bill, as sufficient and emphasizes a need for all lawmakers to agree on the membership application. Chairman Oktay did not specify a possible timeline, extending the Swedish wait to become part of NATO. Hungary has joined Turkey in not ratifying Sweden’s NATO membership.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • There is a roughly even chance Turkey will allow Sweden to join NATO before meeting its demands, very likely considering Sweden’s admission as its best option to acquire F-16 fighter jets from the US. Sweden will very likely commit to continued expansion of anti-terror laws to appease Turkey, with a roughly even chance of extraditing PKK members to Turkey. US members of Congress will almost certainly continue to raise their objections over alleged human rights abuses committed by Turkey, likely believing Turkey will target US-Kurdish allies in the region with newly acquired F-16s.

  • The delay of Sweden’s NATO ascension will very likely deteriorate Turkish-Swedish bilateral relations. There is a roughly even chance that this delay will result in diplomatic isolation, almost certainly challenging collaboration on other regional and global issues like climate change, the economy, and human rights. Turkish and Swedish governments will very likely engage in backchannel diplomacy and mediation to mitigate the deterioration of cooperation.

  • Delayed ascension likely deters potential NATO applicants unwilling to alter national law to appease a different country. There is a roughly even chance that individual NATO members will delay the ratification process as a bargaining chip, likely attempting to pressure aspirant governments into aligning their national politics to comply with those NATO members’ demands. Aspirant countries with strained political relations with one or more NATO members will almost certainly be more affected by potential ratification delays, likely increasing geopolitical tension and hindering NATO's enlargement process. The majority within NATO will almost certainly aim to decrease strong-arming prospective members, very likely putting internal pressure on dissenting members and seeking alternative paths to collaboration.


Date: November 20, 2023

Location: Ukraine

Parties involved: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy; Ukraine; Ukrainian government; Ukrainian senior cabinet official Taras Melnychuk; State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine (SSSCIP); Yurii Shchyhol, head of SSSCIP; Viktor Zhora, deputy of the SSSCIP; Ukrainian lawmakers; Ukrainian citizens; Ukrainian law enforcement; Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU); Russia; EU; NATO

The event: Ukraine has terminated two cyber defense officials after prosecutors announced an investigation of alleged embezzlement within the SSSCIP. This body is responsible for securing government communications and defending Ukraine from cyber-attacks. SSSCIP’s former head, Shchyhol, stated his innocence, while his deputy, Zhora, has not publicly commented on their dismissal. Ukraine's NABU suspects the implicated officials of being part of a six-person $1.72 million embezzlement plot between 2020 and 2022, involving buying software at an inflated price from two companies allegedly under their control in an exclusive sale. Ukraine has increased its efforts to combat corruption as it seeks EU membership, as this is a major prerequisite for starting ascension negotiations.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Russia will almost certainly utilize disinformation and propaganda campaigns to highlight Ukrainian corruption, very likely attempting to target Ukrainian allies with narratives that portray Ukraine as untrustworthy and unreliable. There is a roughly even chance that some allied nations will be swayed by Russian campaigns, likely viewing Ukraine’s history of corruption as a significant threat to the misappropriation of aid. Ukraine will very likely respond with counter-campaigns, likely showcasing the ongoing investigations as commitments to mitigating the impacts of corruption and easing allied fears.

  • The dismissal of top officials amid a corruption probe very likely poses immediate cybersecurity risks for Ukraine. The abrupt removal of key figures in charge of defending against cyber threats almost certainly raises concerns for organizational resilience and continuity of operations. These concerns will likely interrupt cyber-related cooperation efforts such as information sharing, joint cybersecurity programs, and Ukraine’s participation in global cybersecurity standards. International partners will likely call for a comprehensive review of the SSSCIP, very likely viewing the agency dismissals as a sign of compromisation.

  • Ukraine will almost certainly decide between increasing corruption probing and reaching out to its allies for institutional support or minimizing the international coverage of its corruption efforts. If there is evidence of further corruption, Ukraine will likely address the underlying issues privately within its governmental organizations, which may result in adverse reactions from its allies. There is a roughly even chance that Ukraine will reach out to the EU for support in creating stricter corruption deterrence mechanisms, likely aiming to project transparency efforts in line with the EU standards.

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[2] Sweden's NATO bid delayed in Turkish parliament, Reuters, November 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/swedens-nato-bid-delayed-turkish-parliament-2023-11-16/

[3] Ukraine sacks top cyber defence officials amid graft probe, Reuters, November 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/top-ukrainian-cyber-defence-officials-sacked-amid-corruption-probe-2023-11-20/

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