NATO simulates hybrid attack on Latvia
Defence Minister Hannes Hanso (SDE) confirmed on Wednesday following a NATO conflict simulation that the exercise raised questions, but also showed that Estonia’s arguments in the matter of hybrid warfare were to be taken seriously.
The secret simulation at the level of NATO’s defense ministers were a reminder of how seriously the alliance takes the threat of a hybrid attack on its eastern border. ERR’s radio news reported that according to diplomat, the last time such an exercise was conducted was more than ten years ago, but that the threat situation was a completely different one back then.
The scenario that was exercised was inspired by Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula. It involved a simulated invasion of Latvia by unmarked special forces, accompanied by the sabotage of the port of Klaipeda’s oil terminal as well as a cyberattack on the alliance’s systems. It also included a call of the opposing forces’ propaganda for the people of Latvia to rise up against the state.
Defence Minister Hannes Hanso explained that the simulation certainly didn’t include a direct attack, but still grounds for all of the alliance to react with strong force.
Latvian defense minister Raimonds Bergmanis stressed that though the ministers concentrated on the main points of the scenario, it couldn’t be ignored that NATO was an organization based on consensus, where a decision has to be supported by 28 members. “This is the most important thing,” said Bergmanis.
According to Hanso, the simulation raised plenty of questions. “We have to make very clear how we exchange real intelligence, what the content of this intelligence is and how to build a forceful response on it,” he said.
NATO’s defense ministers will continue to discuss the subject of hybrid warfare today. Estonia’s arguments were received by the ministers with a lot more attention after the simulation, Hanso said.