Specific geopolitical features of the European region have determined not only the development of this region, but also the overall global political, economic and security situation. Historically, European countries were those experiencing growth in various areas, however, their progress interspersed also with military conflicts and threats.
Although the challenges of the 21st century cannot be fully compared to historical events and conflicts which took place in the territories of European countries in the 20th century, within the context of the rapid development of the latest events, our understanding about security and threat has experienced an unequivocal evolution in just a few years.
One can assert with confidence that the most serious threat to the security of the European region and also the rest of the globe can be identified in the shape of the Russian Federation in light of its full-scale military invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
However, from the security perspective, we can consider the Russian invasion of Ukraine both as an undesired culmination of the military activity commenced in the territory of Ukraine back in 2014 and as an event which escalated and aggravated various issues within the context the security of the European countries, which had been important since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Without the slightest doubt, the virus-caused pandemic weakened national economies, increased dissatisfaction and division in society, as well as caused various types of threats, thus weakening governance capacity of countries overall. Although both of these events – the war in Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic – are seemingly unrelated, within a wider context and perspective, it is clear that, over the period of nearly three years while the Covid-19 pandemic lasted, it has involuntarily made Europe and other countries more vulnerable than before.
Russia’s military activity in Ukraine, developed on the pandemic “soil”, has led to new challenges, as well as deepened the ongoing crisis in economics, politics, security and society in general at the same time.
Both historically and today, it is the eastern border of Europe which should be defined as a “corridor”, where security threats coming from the east are strongly felt.
This is determined not only by the historical experience, but also by the geographical location. The Baltic States and countries like Poland and other ex-USSR republics certainly feel the war in Ukraine much “closer”, although the consequences are felt by majority of the world on various scales and in various areas.
We cannot discuss Europe as a region ignoring the institutional framework which determines the European governance and regional security, which are the European Union and NATO. It is the framework of both these institutions that frequently serves as a limiting factor on activities of external forces in the region and curbing the local threats. Therefore, we can come to conclusion that the regional security in general largely depends on the two above institutions. Thus, when assessing the security situation, in-depth analysis and discussing resilience of the eastern border of the EU and NATO against various threats – physical, political, economic and other – are of critical importance.
The purpose of this research (Invictus Index) is to determine the level of national security in five countries – Poland and all three Baltic States, providing an insight into various security risks, especially in the territories serving as a “buffer zone” or forming the corridor dividing regions between the member states of the EU and NATO and Russia, as well as in Moldova, which has continuously been and still is a significant area of various interests of Russia.
Within the context of the research, national security is defined as the capacity of a nation to overcome threats of various nature to its people and survival of the nation-state by balancing all the national political tools.
The following criteria are set to determine the objects of analysis:
- Countries forming the eastern border of the European Union by their geopolitical location;
- Countries forming the eastern border of NATO by their geopolitical location;
- Countries having a physical border with Russia or territories belonging to it;
- One country which does not border Russia, but is a significant area of various interests thereof.
Although the EU classifies the Baltic States as belonging to the group of Nordic countries, such a kind of determination of region is still broadly challenged in light of historical, economic and geographical factors.
At the same time, the ESAO includes all three countries in the CEECS region, all three are member states of NATO and the EU, they form the eastern border of both institutions, as well as physically bordering Russia.
Poland – this country is classified as one of the Eastern European region both in terms of the ESAO and the EU classifiers, it is a member state of the EU and NATO, and it physically forms the eastern border of NATO and the EU and borders Kaliningrad, which is a territory of the Russian Federation.
Moldova – although this country does not border with Russia, it has unequivocally become a territory, in relation to which Russia has demonstrated an undisguised desire to implement various goals, including military ones.
The methodological framework of the research has been developed on the basis of the following criteria:
- Selection of the countries to be analysed;
- Identification of national security categories;
- Determination of indicators of national security categories;
- Analysis of indicators of national security categories.
Within the framework of the research, a number of factors directly or indirectly affecting national security of countries will be examined from various viewpoints, namely – the budget and personnel of the armed forces, internal security factors, including corruption, economic, informative and cyber security, media literacy of public, etc.