Kremlin's challenge for Visegrad Four

Author : Eugene Magda

Source : 112 Ukraine

Visegrad countries, Ukraineб and Moldova should establish cooperation in confronting Russian aggression hybrid
19:35, 13 January 2017

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A hybrid aggression of Russia is carried out not only in the east of Ukraine, but also in many countries of the European Union; and it definitely requires an effective response.

Visegrad Four (V-4) and Ukraine have already voiced in autumn 2016 their actually desire to move towards each other in the fields of economics and international relations. Anti-Russian propaganda is  one of the areas of cooperation for which there is sufficient reason and opportunities.

Related: Visegrad Group called on the EU to help Ukraine in the settlement of the IDPs

It is important that the members of the V-4 are sometimes perceived as "weak point of the EU" because of the relatively recent accession to the European Union.

The political situation in Poland and Hungary, political battles within the Czech Republic, which this year to hold parliamentary elections, are adding new challenges, because the V-4 states drift to conservative values (Poland, Hungary); and Russia perceivs it as an opportunity for the promotion of this process in their own interests.

It is not a secret that Kremlin cleverly plays on the desire of many politicians from Central Europe "to resist the dictates of Brussels" and uses the region for the EU shaking inside. Russia also uses the factor of energy transit of Central Europe countries and Ukraine. Obviously, the "Gazprom" tends to min imize the transit through the Ukrainian territory, reducing the role of our country in the energy system of Europe.

Related: Visegrad Four Foreign Ministers to visit Kyiv

These actions of Moscow will hit Slovakia and Poland; actually, the situation pushes them to form a common position. The resistance of Kyiv and Warsaw increase access of "Gazprom" to use OPAL pipelines was the first example of such cooperation.

Ukraine is fully able to become a contributor to hybrid technologies countering Russian aggression, as it has recently gained unique experience of opposition actions of the Kremlin. These activities will also increase the influence of our country on the European continent and to increase the level of trust in relations with both traditional and new partners.

It is important to understand that hybrid aggression, which could be seen in many areas, military and information, which attracted the most attention, is not an exhaustive. The list of areas of Russia’s aggressive actions seems to be endless, as it claims to restore the Soviet Union in the new format.

Related: Hahn: Governments of Visegrad Four countries should cooperate on daily basis

It can be argued that the in terms of “young” democracy almost any sphere of social relations can be the subject of a hybrid of aggression. Therefore it is necessary to focus on the exchange of experience and best practices and forming common positions. Russian-speaking diaspora, whose influence in Eastern European countries is increasing on the basis of real and artificial Euroscepticism, is among the key risk factors.

The Kremlin will continue to use the old schemes of the relations with the diaspora from former Soviet republics. Probably, the object of focus is Russian media, as it is the main source of Russian propaganda.

Although the emergence of European pan-Russian-language channel is now quite a utopian idea, because the counter-propaganda might electronic and print ways of transmitting the information.

An academic environment should be a new area of increased attention, because  Russia uses students and academic publications to promote favorable messages. Lawyers, historians, political scientists with Russian passports together perform technical tasks of the Russian authorities, actively working on a framework for rationalization and recognition of annexation of Crimea. That is why, the scientific discussions and publication should not become a convenient springboard for them.

Related: Russia “allows” Moldova to trade with EU

It is advisable to make the necessary efforts and turn the "historic war" in the region to the scientific level, instead of affecting the socio-political climate in Central Europe, which already has a sufficient area of "bloody lands."

I am convinced that the V-4 countries, Ukraine and Moldova could establish cooperation in confronting Russian aggression hybrid. The need for a rapprochement with Moldova has significantly increased after the election of the president of the country Igor Dodon, who did not even hide his opened pro-Russian views. His last actions (dismissal of Defense Minister Anatoly Shalaru, deprivation of Traian Basescu of Moldovian citizenship, metting with the leader of the unrecognized Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic Vadim Krasnoselsky) suggest that Moldovan President would iron out its actions with the Kremlin.

Czech President Miloš Zeman has a similar position. Of course, there are some forces that try to  counter the impact of Russian forces, and their impact is quite noticeable and formalized. In parallel, we should intensify the policy of "soft power" concerning Belarus, which most likely should be the next vistim of hybrid aggression of Russia.

Related: Moldovan President met with the head of unrecognized Transnistria

The agenda of the region should include intensification of information exchange between the V-4 countries, Ukraine and Moldova in order to create an overall positive information events and increase awareness of the citizens of our countries about each other.

We should not neglect Russia’s interest in significant influence on the information field in Central Europe.

We have to admit that perceiving each other through the prism of Russian looks is dangerous for all of us.

The question the expansion of cooperation is not less important: Ukraine could cooperate with Poland and act as a bridge between the V-4 and Baltic countries, which also face hybrid aggression, and work together with Moldova to ensure the intensification of relations between the V-4 and Romania in this field.

Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltics are now possible directions for enhancing hybrid actions of the Russian Federation. This aggression should be opposed on the basis of hazard awareness and preparedness of joint steps.

Related: Poroshenko’s administration: Ukraine respects Moldova’s choice

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