On October 24, 2017, the Institute of Law and National Security of the National Security Faculty of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) organised the seminar “Problems of the International Terrorism and Psychological Warfare in Contemporary World” under the academic support of the Association of Studies, Research and Internationalization in Eurasia and Africa (ASRIE) and the International Center for Socio-Political Studies and Consulting (ICSPSC).
Giuliano Bifolchi, Co-Founder of ASRIE and Director of the Association’s OSINT Unit, joined the seminar as a speaker and gave a presentation on “Counter-Terrorism in the Context of the Geopolitical Competition/Cooperation”. The other speakers were Ilya S. Bronskiy, independent analyst and Vice-Rector on Marketing and Strategic Development, Autonomous Non-Commercial Organization of Higher Education “North-West Open Technical University” who talked about “The Use of the Term ‘Terrorism’ in Psychological Operations”, and Darya Yu. Bazarkina, Doctor of Political Sciences, Professor at the Department for the European Integration Studies, Institute for World Civilizations, Associate Professor at the Department of communication management, advertising and PR at the Institute for Journalism, Communication and Media Education, Moscow State Pedagogical University (MSPU), Research Coordinator on Communication Management and Strategic Communication, International Center for Socio-Political Studies and Consulting (ICSPSC) who analysed the “Communication Maintenance of the Counter-Terrorist Activity”.
The Institute of Law and National Security of the National Security Faculty of RANEPA decided to organise different seminars with Russian and foreign academic scholars and experts in the field of security and defence with the aim of helping its students to understand the current national and international challenges and develop future strategies to overcome the contemporary problems. The role of strategic communication and propaganda in the contemporary world with particular attention to the effect in the fields of international relations and geopolitics was the focus of the seminar organised the last Tuesday.
Terrorism could be considered one of the leading challenges of the 21st century which affects the entire world: Russia and the European Union are living this challenge avoiding cooperation in the field of counter-terrorism and security because of the consequences of the Ukrainian crisis. On the one hand, strategic communication and psychological warfare have been played a fundamental role in the spread of jihadist ideology and terrorist recruitment: the Islamic State has demonstrated its ability to attract the attention of the young generations exploiting Social Media and Internet thanks to the diffusion of a specific narrative of “victory” promoted by its media channels, social network accounts and magazines released in different languages (Dabiq in English, Dar al-Islam in French, Istok in Russian, and Konstantiniye in Turkish). On the other hand, the information warfare which has characterised the relations between the Kremlin and Brussels affected the cooperation of the Russian Federation and the European Union and created a climate of ‘fear’ and ‘distrust’ between the two parts. As a result, nowadays Russia and Europe are far from restoring their cooperation in the field of counter-terrorism which in the past proved to be essential. The rise of the Islamic State in the Middle East and its propagation in North Africa, the post-Soviet Space and Europe is the proof of the incidence of the lack of cooperation between the Russian Federation and the European Union in the field of security.
During the seminar, the speakers agreed with the fact that the word ‘terrorism’ has been used in different ways and for different purposes: because there is not a standard and unique definition of terrorism the logical consequence is that there is not a standard counter-terrorism strategy shared by all the international actors. In some cases, terrorism and terrorist activities have been used by Intelligence agencies and governments as a geopolitical leverage to perpetuate their foreign policies and gain advantages in the international arena. Media channels and no profit organisations have played a decisive role in the geopolitical context because they have conditionate the perception of the enemy: as stated during the seminar, the rhetoric developed by some political and media actors in Europe has contributed to create an image of the Russian Federation as an enemy more dangerous than the Islamic State and the jihadist ideology.
It should be noted how the Islamist and terrorist threats have interested an area of the world which plays a fundamental role in the world of geopolitics: the rise of the Islamic State and its propagation thanks to the strategy of the Vilayat (provinces) has affected both the regions of the Heartland of Halford Mackinder and the Rimland of Nicholas J. Spykman which are considered essential for the shape of the world. Furthermore, terrorist activities and propaganda are interesting the core of the New Silk Road, the strategy elaborated by the Chinese government to create an interconnection between Europe and Asia and improve the exchange of goods and human resources.
Looking at the recent terrorist attacks in Europe and in the post-Soviet space and analysing the Islamic State’s propaganda on the web and inside its magazines, it should be highlighted that terrorism is a threat which concerns the European Union, the Russian Federation, China and all the countries of the post-Soviet space and the MENA region. Due to its permanent challenge, cooperation is the only solution available to contrast the spread of jihadist ideology and to avoid terrorist attacks organised on the European and Russian soils by those foreign fighters who fought in Syria and Iraq and now are trying to return to their homeland.
Unfortunately, the strategic communication and the psychological warfare which have marked the recent international relations should be considered an obstacle for this cooperation, especially in the case of the European Union and the Russian Federation. Therefore, it is necessary to create a new framework in the field of security where the two parties could share Intelligence and join their efforts to contrast the terrorism threat to overcome the current status quo of the EU-Russia diplomatic relations.
*For more information regarding the activities and event of ASRIE and for further cooperation it is possible to contact our Secretary Staff at firstname.lastname@example.org. The gallery of the event is available at the following link “Seminar at RANEPA (Moscow) – October 24, 2017“