Press release: Energy crisis management: decision-makers and civil society – Roundtable meeting in Kyiv

The roundtable meeting “Strategy for the energy crisis communication” was held on July 2, 2018 in the office of Hennadii Udovenko Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine. It was the third workshop in the project “Energy security and effective strategic communication the civil and governmental actors: V4+Ukraine” sponsored by International Visegrad Fund. The project constitutes cooperation between Visegrad and Ukrainian think tanks:

  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 Casimir Pulaski Foundation presented a report “Making crisis simulation matter”. Also, participants of the project from Hungary and Ukraine introduced the structure of energy crisis communication in their countries, as well as the platform of energy crisis communication between experts and issues of information policy, were discussed on the meeting.

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

Dr. Natalia Slobodian, the research leader of the project team, introduced the presentation about future simulation workshop, its goals, scenario and scheme. Arguing the importance of simulation games for strengthening the energy security she underlined “Let’s look at the military sector. They regularly have so-called command and staff exercises or games, where military threats and emergencies are modulated as well as the all potential scenarios how to solve or mitigate the problems are in the focus of these games. It’s worth to note that last time the energy issues are the part of many crisis simulations but I should stress that energy crises like a separate issue is very seldom in the focus. Nowadays the situation in the energy sector has dramatically changed, when one of the key energy suppliers declared that energy is a weapon, which will contribute to the achievement of foreign policy goals. We don’t know when, where, or how big will be the energy crisis, but we should be ready to quickly react and to look for the best solutions for our countries and region as well. Actually, the simulation game is a perfect instrument for governments and decision-makers to test the situation, to 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 it is a possibility to play the decision in certain circumstances”.

Michaela Karaskova, the President of KNO Czeska, emphasized that military sector regularly has so-called command and staff exercises or games, where military threats and emergencies are modulated as well as the all potential scenarios how to solve or mitigate the problems are in the focus of these games. It’s worth to note that last time the energy issues are the part of many crisis simulations but I should stress that energy crises like a separate issue are very seldom in the focus. As I mentioned here we don’t know when, where, or how big will be the energy crisis, but we should be ready to quickly react and to look for the best solutions for our countries and region as well. Actually, the simulation game is a perfect instrument for governments and decision-makers to test the situation, to modulate the crisis and finally to find the best solution.

 Vitalii Martyniuk, expert from Center for Global Studies Strategy XXI, stressed the necessity to focus on the regional dimension at the simulation within the project and proposed to group participants into three groups: governmental representatives, business, non-governmental actors. In this way regional (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 security of supply 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 best practices when it comes to communication and 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, being EU 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 to maintain the transit system. The ideal scenario is 60 bcm per year.

The participants agreed on that solidarity is not enough during an energy crisis, written agreements will be only able to fulfill the neighboring countries needs during a gas crisis.

Dr. Mykhailo Gonchar, President from 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 in active action, based not only on „gas issues“, but also on a wider range creating the chaotic situation 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 Department on NATO and EU of MFA of Ukraine 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 Ukrainian experience of the strategic communication in the Energy sphere, including that 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 defining a key institution, which is responsible for coordination of energy crisis communication at the national level, and a key national coordinator to communicate at the international level, as well as structuring this communication into single and clear mechanism fixed by a legislative act.

The meeting was the second event of the project that will allow organizing comprehensive simulation of the energy crisis during that will take place during Warsaw Security Forum 2018 conference in October 2018

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

Press release (PDF)