Critical infrastructure protection as a tool of national resilience of Ukraine

Oleksandr Sukhodolia,
Ph.D., Professor,
Head of Energy Security and Technogenic Safety,
National Institute for Strategic Studies,

Ensuring national sustainability has recently become a priority for governments of different countries. This was confirmed in 2016 by the decisions of the NATO that at Warsaw summit approved the seven baseline requirements for the member countries and the EU that approved the Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy. Both decisions aimed at developing the resilience of member countries against modern challenges.

At the same time, Ukraine has been developing own approach to strengthening national resilience based on critical infrastructure protection concept.  The importance of critical infrastructure protection became Ukrainian learned lesson. Russian hybrid aggression demonstrated that critical energy, transport, and communication infrastructure became targets of attacks to undermine Ukrainian ability to resist and develop. Against Ukraine were used different tools of hybrid warfare: physical and cyber attacks against infrastructure (electric networks and substations, pipelines, railroads, bridges), disruption of fuel supply to power plants and communication systems, blocking of damaged infrastructure restoration, disinformation campaigns, etc.

Ukrainian response on hybrid aggression gives understanding that resilience of critical infrastructure is a foundation for securing vital, for society and state, services and functions and by this provides national resilience. Therefore, “resilience” has been chosen as a methodological basis for the formation of a critical infrastructure protection system in Ukraine. This approach was developed by the National Institute for Strategic Studies of Ukraine and validated during the preparation of the Green Book on critical infrastructure protection prepared in 2015-2016.

Ukrainian Government supported the suggested strategy and methodology using legal acts. The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine and Decree of the President of Ukraine decision “On Improvement of Measures to Ensure Protection of Critical Infrastructure Objects” (№8, January 2017) and  the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine Resolution “On Approval of the Concept for Building a State Critical Infrastructure Protection System” (№1009-r, December 2017) became the first official documents that outlined the principles and priorities providing critical infrastructure security and resilience.

The process of implementation of the proposed approach was challenged by serious problems of interagency cooperation. The absence of working common language (different terminology of existing state systems: anti-terroristic and emergency, civil and physical protection, etc), the lack of unified communication procedures and interactions (different internal procedures).

Therefore, during 2016-2018 there have been invested a lot of efforts in supporting implementation the Concept of critical infrastructure protection (set of workshops and seminars discussing the problem with public servants and experts, rising-awareness measures, education, etc). Ukraine initiated a set of training programs in the field, understanding that such programs provide potential students with knowledge on state policy, methods, and tools of its implementation.

For example, in October of 2017, Ukraine held the first national level Table-Top Exercise on the issue of resilience of critical infrastructure. The table-top exercise named “Coherent Resilience  2017” (CORE2017) had goals:  to check existed procedures on prevention, protection, and response on incidents related to critical energy infrastructure and; to facilitate the cooperation of different agencies in their action to provide the resilience of the National Power System.

The invested efforts have helped to build understanding that development of robust inter-agency cooperation, establishing of unifying terminology and procedures is a priority for enhancing critical infrastructure resilience. Now it is obvious for all involved actors as well that Ukraine needs to develop a public-private partnership in the field.

In May 2019, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine finalized a draft law of Ukraine «On critical infrastructure and its protection” and Ukrainian parliament took a lead in developing legislation for the critical infrastructure protection system. The future law is supposed to establish a coherent system of interaction, information exchange and efforts concentration of various involved actors in ensuring security and resilience of critical infrastructure of Ukraine.

The system under construction in Ukraine includes:

– Implementing into the legislation of the new terminology «critical infrastructure», «resilience», «vital functions and services» etc;

– Defining the purpose of a critical infrastructure protection system, namely «to ensure security and resilience of critical infrastructure» and by this to guarantee vital for social functions and services;

– Implementing an «all hazard approach» into procedures of critical infrastructure protection system functioning;

–  Establishing government approved methodology and criteria to assign certain facilities and systems to critical infrastructure;

– Establishing the institutional, organizational structure of the system, as well as specifying role/place of the involved actors and their responsibilities within the national security domain;

– Introducing a set of tools to be used within critical infrastructure protection system: «Design basis threat», «Preventive Action Plan», «Emergency Plan», «Communication System», «Training» etc.

– Clarifying procedures of interagency interaction and exchange information.

Ukraine sees the development of a robust effective critical infrastructure protection system as an effective tool to enhance national resilience. The hybrid war against Ukraine has given an additional impetus to our efforts to build critical infrastructure protection system capable to prevent, mitigate and respond to all types of threats (i. e. natural, man-made, criminal and terrorist threats) and their possible combinations.

Therefore, Ukraine ready to share its learned lessons. The challenges and achievements of creating a critical infrastructure protection system were discussed in the publications and conferences held by the National Institute for Strategic Studies (for details see: the English-language book «Developing the Critical Infrastructure Protection System in Ukraine»).


Expert article 2598

> Back to Baltic Rim Economies 4/2019