June 10 to 14, 2019 / Course language: English & Russian

European Security Seminar - East 18-09 is titled "The Age of Post-Truth: State Influence and Strategic Communication: Developing Strategies to Address Contemporary Security Challenges on Europe's Eastern Flank."

This one week long seminar is held for the third time and designed to examine and analyze a major recurrent matter on the European and Euro-Atlantic security agenda: strategic communication. In 2016, the ESS-East addressed broader security issues whereas in 2017 it dealt with hybrid warfare and resilience-building. The ESS-E 18-09 will take place from May 14 to 18, 2018 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. ESS-E will examine, contemplate and rethink the topic with the involvement of mid-to-senior officials from Europe, Eurasia and the U.S., and thus build a network of security practitioners that address strategic communication.



Strategic Communication has been present for a long time in the relationship of various states and their groups (alliances, regional integrations). However, its importance varied in accordance with the change of relations between the major actors of Euro-Atlantic and European security. The matter has been relaunched in the center of attention with the heightened tension between the Russian Federation and the West following the reconceptualization of the tools the former applies in order to realize its strategic interests and the conflict in and around Ukraine where the Russian Federation has been actively engaged. Strategic communication is not a new phenomenon. It is new however, “how these tools that we have recognized from before are now put together and used in new ways to bring new kinds of pressure.” (General (rt.) Philip M. Breedlove) The novelty of the concept and the rebalancing of the tools used to optimize the outcome present the challenge.

The more efficient and tailor-made strategic communication and the intention to gain influence by a complex set of means has presented a challenge for western democracies. The reaction has to be purposeful so as to influence the other party and deprive it of the advantage it seeks to achieve, and proportionate in order not to give ground to escalate the conflict. As the West is not a unitary actor the reaction ought to be coordinated. However, this is difficult to achieve partly due to genuine disagreements as far as the perception generated by the challenger and also due to discord concerning the most effective ways to react. Therefore it is essential to discuss different approaches, lessons learned and study best practices. There is no concord what mix would result in a reaction most favorable to the challenged. On the other hand, the challenger also has to be careful to avoid creating more cohesion among the constituent parts of the challenged.

The seminar covers four parts:

  • Part 1: Understanding Strategic Communication in historical context and in it's recent evolution.
  • Part 2: Russia's efforts in different areas of influence, such as economic; domestic political processes of other states, including elections and media.
  • Part 3: Reactions and building resilience in national and international frameworks.
  • Part 4: Developing alternative policy recommendations.


  • To engage with partners in understanding the importance of strategic communication in its evolution and under the current conditions.
  • To better understand the objectives of Russia's strategic communication, it's gaining of influence and the complexity of its means.
  • To identify, compare, analyze and assess the reaction of the main Western players, including state actors and organizations.
  • To contemplate the potential further development in reaction to the effort of the opponent to gaining influence and using strategic communication.
  • To build further the community of like-minded states with the help of subject matter experts both among those who teach the course and those who attend.

Expected accomplishments

The seminar will be taught by subject matter experts from the Marshall Center along with adjunct professors and guest lecturers. Academic experts and highly experienced decision-makers and shapers will contribute to the teaching program. It will invite representatives from EU members, its Eastern Partners, NATO members and PfPC participating states, the Western Balkans and non-aligned and neutral states.

The ESS-East is structured and designed in such a way to be able to capture the insights of participating professionals.

The shaping of the policy debate in this area by stakeholders and through the participants in the larger security community.

Indicators of achievement

The primary indicator of achievement will be the ideas and outputs from the course help inform strategic thinking of states, as well as the European Union (EU) and NATO.

It will be a secondary objective to contribute to developing alternative options in reaction to gaining influence and use strategic communication by a challenger and thus bring closer together and eventually align the thinking of the participants in this security community.

Main activities

ESS-E addresses the topic by providing four platforms for exchange of ideas, discussions, networking and strategy development. Conference-style format of lectures, panels and plenary discussions; outcome-oriented, product driven and complementary workshop format (workshops led by SMEs, supported by rapporteur with input from seminar-group leaders and guest presenters); night owl session held in the format of “fire side chat," and participants’ panels.

The course is five days all inclusive (in on Monday, out on Friday); 4 academic days; 50 participants in mid-to-senior level positions, 5 working groups; 6-8 guest speakers; Date: May 14 to 18, 2018.

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For application and deadline information, contact the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., your ministry point of contact, or the U.S. or German Embassy in your capital city.