NATO strengthens cyber defenses in Bosnia and Herzegovina: a potential threat from Russia and China

The Internet, semiconductors and digital technologies are increasingly becoming a national security issue and an unavoidable topic in the formulation of security strategies.

Unfortunately, most citizens do not usually think about the dangers these things can pose.

Due to this, NATO recognized cyberspace in 2016 as an operational domain where the Alliance must create defense systems, just as it does with “traditional” forms of defense including land, sea, and air.

In fact, as one of their top priorities, NATO Allies pledged in July 2016 to improve cyberspace defense. It was resolved that NATO would employ the cyber capabilities of individual member nations in order to be able to work together more effectively to tackle these threats at the 2018 NATO Summit in Brussels, which was also attended by the BiH daily Nezavisne novine and Osloboenje.

The Allies began putting these decisions into practice at the operational level in February 2019, and collaboration with the EU was created through the Technical Agreement on Cyber Defense. Strengthening collaboration with industry, i.e., businesses making crucial parts or software, as well as other connected fields, is one of the measures.

While NATO works to promote a free, open, peaceful, and secure cyberspace, they emphasized that allies use NATO as a venue for policy consultations, express concerns about hostile activities, and exchange national approaches and responses while also taking into consideration shared measures.

BiH, on the other hand, is remarkably inert in this crucial issue of national security. With the exception of the Republika Srpska, which has enacted a few papers in this field, BiH lacks the necessary state capability or legislative framework to adequately defend against cyberthreats. At the Madrid Summit last year, NATO adopted a support package for BiH, the implementation of which has only started because the alliance views China and Russia as possible threats to cyberspace in BiH.

NATO HQ in Brussels confirmed that this area is part of the assistance package and that the goal is to make the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the country as a whole more resilient to cyber threats.

“For example, assistance will be offered through the NATO Defence Capacity Building Mechanism for BiH on medical evacuation, communication equipment for ground and air forces, training, crisis management, cyber defence and counter-terrorism,” they stressed.

The issue of cyber protection, as well as the fight against fake news, has become even more topical since Donald Trump became US President, as suspicions have emerged that Russian actors not only influenced his election as President, but also created a whole series of social media pages that influenced public opinion.

In the US, all security agencies have been involved in investigations into these phenomena and charges have been brought. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner paramilitary group, which is taking part in the war in Ukraine on the side of Russia, is among those who have been mentioned as part of the network of creating discord in the US by creating fake news. Last November, when asked by a journalist, Prigozhin admitted that he had taken part in these activities.


“I will answer your question very subtly and I apologise for introducing some vagueness. Gentlemen, we have interfered, we are interfering and we will interfere. Carefully, precisely, surgically and in our own way, as we know how,” he said at the time.

The deliberate production and dissemination of incorrect or distorted material with the intent to deceive and mislead, he continues, is what is meant by disinformation.

“Disinformation is used to widen gulfs among allies and to erode confidence in legitimately elected governments. Since Russia’s illegitimate annexation of Crimea in Ukraine in 2014, the Alliance has been confronted with these concerns and has been active in battling disinformation and propaganda, they claim.

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