Another year, another HCSS Digest – and there’s plenty to talk about! From tensions over Ukraine and Taiwan, to outrage over Groningen. Catch up now with our analysts and experts.
From now on, in each edition of the Military Courant, HCSS will contribute an article highlighting recent research. Deputy Director Michel Rademaker kicks off with an editorial about the use and application of Robotics and Autonomous Systems by the Dutch armed forces. What are the military applications? What exactly is autonomy? And which ethical and legal considerations play a role in its deployment?
The news that more gas needs to be pumped up in Groningen than was promised, led to many indignant reactions this week. With the transitioning away from fossil fuels, why does extra gas now have to be extracted? HCSS energy expert Lucia van Geuns explains on Nieuws & Co Radio: “The Netherlands has had export contracts with Germany, France and Belgium for a long time. These will continue until at least 2030. That is an obligation we must comply with it.”
Are there really no alternatives to Groningen gas? No, HCSS energy expert Jilles van den Beukel commented in newspaper NRC. “Importing extra gas does not help, because we do not have enough nitrogen factories to convert it into suitable gas for Dutch households.” Moreover, he continued: “The gas reduction was presented very ambitiously in 2019 by former minister Wiebes. But there was no margin for setbacks. In retrospect, we should have communicated more carefully.”
Broken promises or logical and legitimate consequences of cold weather and longstanding contracts? Amid understandably emotional reactions, on Dit Is De Dag Jilles van den Beukel calmly clarified the justifications for turning on the ‘Groningen-tap’.
“We have known for ten years that if we cut off our gas production without having an alternative for it, we will become a plaything for international circumstances,” Han ten Broeke pointed out on WNL’s Goedemorgen Nederland. “The Germans demand their gas, they are entitled to that. We have to wait and see if the Russians don’t scale down, and we’ll find out to what extent we can shower in the morning…”
Jilles van den Beukel also spoke about lng, Groningen and the situation on the energy markets on the NPO Radio 1 Journaal, Nieuwsuur, BNR Nieuwsradio, RTL Nieuws, het Financieele Dagblad and NU.nl, among others.
The tensions on the Ukraine border were a guarantee for a busy and laborious week on the diplomatic front for Washington, Moscow and NATO. HCSS Russia expert Helga Salemon looked ahead to the meetings on NOS Met Het Oog Op Morgen.
Putin is trying to turn back the clock 30 years and restore the old spheres of influence of the Soviet Union. But what resources do America and NATO have left to put pressure on Moscow? Rob de Wijk analyses the new Cold War rhetoric on VPRO’s Bureau Buitenland.
It may seem a surreal problem, but European countries fear economic blows if the conflict with Moscow escalates. “If the Russians turn off the gas tap, we have a huge problem. We’ve put ourselves in a dependent position,” Rob de Wijk explained on Talkshow M.
Putin is obsessed with NATO, Rob de Wijk commented in het Financieele Dagblad. But NATO members spent 30 years cutting defenses and are not even capable of attacking Russia. But that is not what they believe in Moscow. Everyone there thinks that NATO is the threat. The greatest danger is that Putin will get himself cornered in his tough – but irrational – demands and will not be able to take a step back.
For the tensions to dissolve, it’s important that Moscow doesn’t loose too much face, Han ten Broeke added on WNL’s Goedemorgen Nederland. European countries are much more vulnerable than America: “The Americans have done something very clever, they drilled for shale gas, while also being an oil provider. In doing so, they have given themselves a path to independence and are much less vulnerable to fluctuations in energy prices. But the Europeans put themselves in a dependent position.”
“It’s hard to say who has the best cards. Putin is playing a high game with his demands. As long as NATO, Europe and the Americans are united, they can form a good bloc,” HCSS defense expert Peter Wijninga commented on BNR Nieuwsradio. “But if these talks are fruitless, this could really escalate into a serious crisis,” he added on BNR De Wereld.
Putin does have a point, Rob de Wijk wrote in his weekly column for Trouw. The Americans have time and again jettisoned arms control agreements and measures meant to install trust and confidence. The problem is that Putin’s demands are totally unacceptable.
Deterrence Paper series
A very relevant question, in light of what’s happening on Europe’s eastern borders today: what options do small and middle powers have to deter the military threat from Russia and China? Find out more in a new HCSS paper series on deterrence for small and middle powers, edited by Paul van Hooft and Tim Sweijs.
- Paper 1: Pick Your Poison: Comparing the Deterrence Problem in Asia and Europe, by Eric Heginbotham and Richard J. Samuels of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
- Paper 2: Raising the Costs of Access: Active Denial Strategies by Small and Middle Powers against Revisionist Aggression, by HCSS analysts Paul van Hooft, Nora Nijboer and Tim Sweijs.
- Paper 3: Deterrence in the Baltic Sea Region – a View from Poland, by Wojciech Lorenz (Polish Institute of International Affairs)
- Paper 4: Strengthening Taiwan’s Integrated Deterrence Posture: Challenges and Solutions, by Jyun-yi Lee of Taiwan’s Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR).
- More papers will follow next week!
Athletes representing the Netherlands at the Winter Olympics in China must leave their own phones and laptops at home, a precautionary measure to counter espionage and to prevent eavesdropping and hacking by Beijing. HCSS cyber expert Louk Faesen approved the measure, he commented in het Financieele Dagblad, adding that he was under the impression that many Dutch companies are already taking these kinds of precautions.
Tensions around Taiwan continue to rise. Last year, a record number of Chinese planes took off towards the democratically-ruled island. Just a show of force, or is there more to it? “They keep the pressure on,” strategic analyst Joris Teer explained on NOS, elaborating on the military might of China. “A practical goal is also to exhaust the Taiwanese air force.”
The world around us is changing at lightning speed. Technological developments, energy crises, climate change, a more assertive Russia and China’s geopolitical ambitions… How should we respond to these rapid changes? And what impact does it have on our daily lives? In 2022 we will once again provide you with much-needed insights on our BNR Podcast De Strateeg: on Sunday you can listen to a brand new episode about the military might of China, with Member of Parliament Ruben Brekelmans and HCSS analyst Joris Teer.
Media and politicians have focused on Russian influence across American and European arenas, putting little attention towards China’s political influence. But how is China influencing our political elites, media, civil society and academia? Join us Feb. 22 for our online panel discussion on Chinese political influencing efforts, and response options both at the national and European level. Speakers include HCSS analysts Lotje Boswinkel and Louk Faesen, with opening remarks by French ambassador Luis Vassy.
Vacancies and Transfers
Are you a social media whiz kid? Do you have a sharp pen? Is creating fresh online content your passion? HCSS is offering a dynamic PR, Marketing and Communications internship that could be just the thing for you!
Dr. Alexander Klimburg has been appointed as the new Head of the Centre for Cybersecurity at the World Economic Forum. He has stepped down as the HCSS Director of the Cyber Policy and Resilience Program, but will remain a Senior Fellow of the program. While we are saddened by his departure, we are thankful for his past leadership and future involvement in the HCSS cyber program. We wish him all the best in his new position at the World Economic Forum, where he will undoubtedly continue to make significant strides towards a more secure and stable cyberspace.