Ukraine signs NATO cybersecurity centre accession

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Ukraine has formally signed its accession to the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE).

The country applied for CCDCOE membership in August 2021. On 4 March 2022, existing CCDCOE members voted unanimously to accept Ukraine into the organisation.

“We have been actively cooperating with the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence for the last year,” said Yurii Shchyhol, Head of the State Special Communications Service of Ukraine.

“In November 2022, CCDCOE Director Mart Noorma, and Head of International Relations Carolina Leis, visited our Service to discuss our experience in countering Russia’s cyber aggression, risks in cyberspace for other countries, and many other issues.

“Last year, a Ukrainian delegation participated in a Steering Committee meeting of CCDCOE for the first time. I do hope that our cooperation will become tighter this year.”

CCDCOE members cooperate on cybersecurity matters but do not make the same military commitments as full NATO members. CCDCOE members aren’t granted the same collective defense protections under ‘Article 5’.

The CCDCOE currently consists of 32 members: 27 are full NATO members, while five are contributors that are not currently part of the wider defensive alliance.

Over the past year, four new countries joined the CCDCOE. South Korea, Canada, and Luxembourg joined in May 2022, and Japan in November 2022.

Following Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, more countries have sought to cooperate with NATO and its associated organisations.

Until the largest land war in Europe since 1945 erupted, many NATO members failed to meet their commitments to spend at least two percent of their GDP on defense. In fact, just five of the 30 alliance members – the US (~3.61%), Greece (~2.38%), UK (~2.21%), Estonia (~2.16%), and Poland (~2%) – met the spending commitment agreed in 2016.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed more NATO members to meet their defense spending commitments. Many members now view the two percent commitment as a floor, not a ceiling. 

Furthermore, Sweden and Finland – two nations that have a history of wartime neutrality and staying out of military alliances – have recognised the threats and are in the process of joining NATO.

Ukraine’s membership of the CCDCOE will be invaluable for both the country and the cybersecurity centre.

Members of the CCDCOE will benefit from Ukraine’s direct experience in an active conflict with Russia, one of the world’s biggest exporters of cybersecurity threats.

On the day Russia invaded Ukraine, the country launched a cyberattack on satellite operator Viasat to disrupt Ukrainian communications. Spillover from the attack impacted wind turbines in Germany.

For Ukraine, the country’s cybersecurity experts will be able to tap global expertise to counter threats and minimise the damage from successful cyberattacks.

(Image Credit: CCDCOE)

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