Assessing Ukrainian National Resilience as a Shared Security Objective
The Institute for Security Governance and the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies partnered to co-host a workshop on Ukrainian resilience in Krakow, December 12-16. Over 45 participants from Ukraine, NATO Headquarters, the United States and other NATO member states attended the workshop-style meetings to discuss the challenges Ukraine faces—from a national resiliency perspective—following Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of the country.
“The overall goal is for us to think through ways to eliminate system deficiencies and how to increase the state's readiness to face threats,” said a Ukrainian representative. “The conclusions drawn and the lessons learned should form the basis of future improvement of national resilience.”
The dialogue focused on addressing questions related to crisis management during wartime, critical infrastructure resilience, societal resilience, and ensuring continuity of government during national emergencies. Sharing experiences from the war, participants assessed Ukraine to have exceeded their expectations in societal resilience, but emphasized the need to further build a culture of preparedness and enhance social cohesion through education and awareness.
“As the attacks on Ukraine started and expanded, we realized that we had more resilience as a society than we had previously thought,” said a Ukrainian participant. “My wife and my kid are now in Ukraine, without power and water. I have no way to communicate with them. And yet, we continue our work here. This is resilience.”
“A society has a hidden resilience that can only be revealed during a crisis. That presents a challenge in having an appropriate assessment of the right level of resilience in advance,” said another Ukrainian participant, who is also a former Marshall Center alumna.
Building resilience during a war is difficult. U.S. security cooperation efforts such as institutional capacity building can be particularly helpful. Institutional capacity building addresses the necessary good governance practices, management competencies, and sustainment capabilities to effectively and responsibly achieve national resilience, a shared security objective.
“Resilience is a valuable area for security cooperation and a critical, shared, security objective,” said Matt Vaccaro, Senior Principal for Practice & Capabilities at ISG. “We view our support to Ukraine as a top priority and this resiliency dialogue as having potential to further galvanize the international community in support of Ukraine over the long term.”
While most resiliency assessments happen in times of peace through simulated exercises, gathering data from real time events is invaluable in drawing accurate lessons learned. Continuous assessment of the level of preparedness and of the ability to respond to crisis are key to strengthening national resilience.
“I applaud the Ukrainian leaders for taking the time and effort to assess the current and future strategic situation, and for their commitment to accomplish that goal,” said Col. Matthew Neumeyer, Head of Strategic Studies Department at the Marshall Center. “ISG and the Marshall Center teams are eager to facilitate discussions that give a shared understanding of Ukrainian resiliency, help continue to reinforce and strengthen it, and prepare the Ukrainian nation for a better future.”
This resiliency workshop with Ukraine is intended to strengthen the national resiliency of the country in a variety of critical areas, and could potentially serve as a roadmap for other countries. “Through this week’s discussions, we hope to gain more clarity on necessary legislative changes, gaps that need to be eliminated, and ways to solve the main challenges,” said a Ukrainian representative. “Experience gained by Ukraine from the very beginning of the full-scale Russian aggression puts Ukraine at the level of maturity where the development of national resilience system is not only necessary, but a completely natural step.”
The United States has clearly expressed its determination to help Ukraine repair, restore and defend its critical energy and water infrastructure, meet its winter preparedness needs, and support Ukraine’s civilian resilience. This workshop was a prime example of that support. The United States considers mutually beneficial alliances and partnerships an enduring strength, and will continue to reaffirm unwavering support to Ukraine’s fight for democracy, sovereignty and territorial integrity.