Roundtable meeting “Strategy for the energy crisis communication” in Kiev

Roundtable meeting “Strategy for the energy crisis communication” in Kiev

On the 2nd of July roundtable meeting titled “Strategy for the energy crisis communication” was held at the office of Hennadii Udovenko of the Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine. It was the third workshop of the “Energy security and effective strategic communication of civil and governmental actors: V4+Ukraine” project, sponsored by the International Visegrad Fund.

The project is a collaborative effort of think tanks based in Visegrad countries and Ukraine:

  1. Casimir Pulaski Foundation, Poland (www.pulaski.pl)
  2. Research Center of the Slovak Foreign Policy Association, Slovakia (www.sfpa.sk)
  3. KNO Czech, the Czech Republic (www.kno.cz)
  4. Center for Global Studies Strategy XXI, Ukraine (www.geostrategy.org.ua)
  5. Center for Fair Political Analysis, Hungary (www.meltanyossag.hu)

During the event, experts from the Casimir Pulaski Foundation presented a report entitled “Making crisis simulation matter”. Furthermore, participants from Hungary and Ukraine introduced the framework of communication and a platform for communication among experts in the event of energy crisis in their states.

Dr. Sergiy Korsunsky, Ambassador, Director of Hennadii Udovenko Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine delivered the introductory remarks. Dr. Korsunsky noted that “V4 countries and Ukraine share common interests in the field of security of the supply of natural gas and the transit of Russian gas to European customers. Therefore, it is important to develop strategic communication between the afore-mentioned states to strengthen the trust between actors and improve the coordination and planning of their energy policies including those in the field of crisis management”.

Dr. Natalia Slobodian, research leader of the project’s team, delivered a presentation on the future simulation workshop, its goals, scenario, and layout. Arguing for the role of simulations in strengthening the energy security she stated: “Actually, the simulation game is a perfect tool for governments and decision-makers to evaluate the situation, modulate the crisis, and finally –  to find the best solution. We should clearly understand that the goal of any simulation is not to win but rather to use it as an opportunity to evaluate the decision making processes in certain circumstances”.

Michaela Karaskova, the President of KNO Czeska, emphasized “Let’s look at the military sector. They regularly have so-called command and staff exercises or games during which military threats and emergencies are modulated alongside all the potential scenarios on how to solve or mitigate these problems. It’s worth noting that while energy issues are a part of many crisis simulations, the energy crisis on their own are very seldom the focus of the simulations. Nowadays, the situation in the energy sector has dramatically changed with one of the key energy suppliers declaring that energy can be used as a weapon and a tool for coercion, meant to achieve certain foreign policy goals. We don’t know when, where, or how big the energy crisis will be, but we should be ready to react quickly and to look for the best solutions for our countries and the entire region.”

Vitalii Martyniuk, expert from the Center for Global Studies Strategy XXI, stressed “the necessity to focus on the regional dimension of the simulation within the project and proposed to divide the participants into three groups: governmental representatives, business, and non-governmental actors. This way, a region wide (V4+UA) energy crisis communication can be tested”.

Dr. Alexander Duleba, Director of the Slovak Foreign Policy Association, stressed that “V4 – Ukraine cooperation in the field of energy should go beyond the security of supply chain agenda and look for gradual creation of regional gas and electricity markets. In institutional terms, it should go beyond governmental structures and involve regulatory authorities, key business actors (national TSOs, national distribution and retailer companies), and, last but not least, civil society and independent expert communities. It should also include exchange of the best practices in communication field and in regard to the cooperation between government – business – NGO actors on both national and regional level”.

Hungarian expert Andras Jenei from Center for Fair Political Analysis added that “the transit agreement between Ukraine and Russia has to be based on a trilateral agreement with the EU acting as a facilitator. Ukraine needs at least 40 Bcm transit volume to be able to secure the reverse flows from Hungary and Slovakia, as well as to maintain the transit system. The ideal scenario is 60 bcm per year”.

Dr. Mykhailo Gonchar, President of the Center for Global Studies Strategy XXI, stated that “before developing the energy crisis communication models, it is necessary to understand what Gazprom can do according to directives from the Kremlin. It is likely that Russia can engage based not only on >>gas issues<<, but also on a wider scale, creating a chaos in and around Ukraine. Therefore, the gas crisis may erupt not only January 1, 2020, after the expiration of the current transit contract, but earlier, during the election campaign in Ukraine at the end of winter and beginning of spring 2019″.

Director of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Department on NATO and EU Serhii Saienko, Head of Energy Security Department of the National Institute for Strategic Studies Oleksandr Sukhodolia and Deputy Director of the Department of Information Security and the Development of Information Society of the National Institute for Strategic Studies Anastasiia Barovska

presented the Ukrainian experiences related to the strategic communication in energy security, including those based on the results of the Table Top Exercises “COHERENT RESILIENCE 2017” on protection of the critical electricity infrastructure in Ukraine. Participants of the discussion noted importance of designating a key institution which would be responsible for coordinating communication during an energy crisis at the national level and a key national coordinator tasked with communicating on the international level, as well as structuring this communication into a single and clear mechanism fixed by a legislative act.

The meeting was the third in a series of events designed to organize and execute a comprehensive simulation of a hypothetical energy crisis, which will take place during the Warsaw Security Forum in October 2018. The roundtable was a part of the “Energy security and effective strategic communication of civil and governmental actors: V4+Ukraine” project, carried out in cooperation with the International Visegrad Fund and partner organizations from V4 states and Ukraine: Research Center of the Slovak Foreign Policy Association from Slovakia, Centre for Global Studies “Strategy XXI” from Ukraine, KNO Česko, spol. s r.o. from Czech Republic, and Center for Fair Political Analysis from Hungary.

If we can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Natalia Slobodian – the main project researcher +48577899921 (nslobodian@pulaski.pl).