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Despite the long practice of building individual elements of the resilience system both at the national level and under international organisations, such as the UN, it is only in recent years that a comprehensive and focused approach to understanding the importance of building elements of the national and international resilience system has emerged. This was triggered by the need to respond to the so-called hybrid threats, which required defence planning, asymmetric response, and preparedness to act in crises. 

The COVID-19 pandemic and the increase of massive cyberattacks highlighted new potential challenges requiring a systematic response in terms of prevention, protection, and recovery. Therefore, individual countries and international organisations channelled their efforts into some key areas of work, such as shaping the concept of resilience, its baseline approaches and principles, and building new elements of partner interaction. 

NATO was one of the first organisations to develop its own baselines of resilience building. In 2021, NATO recognized that “national and collective resilience are an essential basis for credible deterrence and defence (…) and vital in our efforts to safeguard our societies, our populations and our shared values.” Over the past ten years, a clear understanding has emerged that military efforts alone are not enough for the state and society’s security. A civil defence system is needed to increase defence capabilities and effectiveness, as well as the readiness to reduce risks and vulnerabilities of society in war and peacetime.

In addition, as NATO notes, military forces increasingly depend on civilian and business support for transport, communications, and supplies, such as water and food. The use of civilian capabilities has increased since the end of the Cold War due to reductions in defence budgets. As a result, critical infrastructure is privately owned in most NATO member-states. For instance, 90% of military transport for large military operations is chartered or requisitioned from the commercial sector, according to NATO data. On average, the commercial sector provides 30% of satellite communications used for defence, and local commercial infrastructure and services provide about 75% of support for NATO operations nationally.

The identification of threats, risks, and possible ways to accumulate efforts of the military and civilian sectors, as well as the developments around the COVID-19 pandemic that required a comprehensive response from the civil and military sectors, have made the issue of resilience more relevant. This area has turned out promising in cooperation within NATO and in relations with partners as it allows to engage additional actors. Building a resilience system has been one of the priorities in relations with Ukraine. This was confirmed with Coherent Resilience, the first joint NATO-Ukraine tabletop exercise in September 2021, among others. As Ukraine and NATO develop interoperability, some elements of the resilience system can open up additional spheres for cooperation that will contribute to the Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine. In addition, this gives a chance to engage some sceptics within NATO, who are not always ready for a full-fledged military dialogue with Ukraine but can engage in cooperation on civilian issues.


Many researchers believe that the concept of resilience is anchored in the foundation of NATO through to Article 3 of the North Atlantic Treaty (1949): “In order more effectively to achieve the objectives of this Treaty, the Parties, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.” 

NATO’s latest report on resilience building drafted for the fall meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in 2021 notes that “the need for resilience has gradually come to encompass more than solely a response to armed attacks as envisaged by the Treaty. On the one hand, natural disasters can seriously affect the functioning of Allied societies. On the other, new risks, such as hybrid threats or cyber-attacks, while they may not reflect the scale of an armed attack, still present a threat to Allied security.”

The Wales Summit Declaration (2014) was the first document that showed a serious focus of NATO member-states on new types of threats. In particular, it highlighted cybersecurity and the need to build resilience in the cyber domain as a separate priority. Articles 72 and 73 of the Declaration both focus on resilience issues in the context of cyber threats. Article 72 states that “the Alliance looks to the future, cyber threats and attacks will continue to become more common, sophisticated, and potentially damaging. To face this evolving challenge, we have endorsed an Enhanced Cyber Defence Policy, contributing to the fulfilment of the Alliance’s core tasks. The policy reaffirms the principles of the indivisibility of Allied security and of prevention, detection, resilience, recovery, and defence.” 

Article 73 proposes mechanisms to increase the resilience of NATO and individual member-states against cyberthreats and highlights the importance of cooperation with partners beyond NATO member-states: “Close bilateral and multinational cooperation plays a key role in enhancing the cyber defence capabilities of the Alliance. We will continue to integrate cyber defence into NATO operations and operational and contingency planning, and enhance information sharing and situational awareness among Allies. Strong partnerships play a key role in addressing cyber threats and risks. We will therefore continue to engage actively on cyber issues with relevant partner nations on a case-by-case basis and with other international organizations, including the EU, as agreed, and will intensify our cooperation with industry through a NATO Industry Cyber Partnership».

After the Warsaw Summit (2016), two important documents appeared that crystallized the approaches to resilience-building within NATO. Firstly, the Summit declaration further developed the idea of resilience building in cyberspace. According to Article 71, “Each Ally will honour its responsibility to improve its resilience and ability to respond quickly and effectively to cyber-attacks, including in hybrid contexts.” Secondly, Article 73 focused exclusively on resilience building: “Today we have made a commitment to continue to enhance our resilience and to maintain and further develop our individual and collective capacity to resist any form of armed attack. Civil preparedness is a central pillar of Allies’ resilience and a critical enabler for Alliance collective defence. While this remains a national responsibility, NATO can support Allies in assessing and, upon request, enhancing their civil preparedness. We will improve civil preparedness by achieving the NATO Baseline Requirements for National Resilience, which focus on continuity of government, continuity of essential services, security of critical civilian infrastructure, and support to military forces with civilian means… 

It was in 2016 that the baseline requirements for NATO’s resilience system were clearly articulated for the first time, with an emphasis on the individual responsibility of member-states for building effective national resilience systems. This essentially cemented the principle defining collective resilience of NATO as the sum of individual systems of member-states and leaving NATO primarily as a coordinator and a point for exchanging experience and cooperation with non-NATO partners.

The Commitment to enhance resilience was another document produced at the Summit and adopted by Heads of States and Governments. According to its Article 3, “Being resilient against these challenges requires Allies to maintain and protect critical civilian capabilities, alongside and in support of military capabilities, and to work across the whole of government and with the private sector. It also requires the Alliance to continue to engage, as appropriate, with international bodies, particularly the European Union, and with partners.” Article 4 defines the relationship between the military and civilian sectors: “To complement and enable our military capabilities, we will continue to improve civil preparedness. Noting that civil preparedness is above all a national responsibility, we will strive to achieve the agreed requirements for national resilience. We will protect our populations and territory by strengthening continuity of government, continuity of essential services and security of critical civilian infrastructure; and we will work to ensure that our national and NATO military forces can at all times be adequately supported with civilian resources, including energy, transportation, and communications…” 

Brussels Summit Declaration (2018) further developed and expanded the concept of resilience-building within NATO and internationally. In addition to the traditional areas of application and listing the threats, the issue of resilience-building appeared in the context of counterterrorism in Article 10. Among other things, it mentions the need to “enhance Allies’ national efforts and capacity… to be resilient against acts of terrorism.” According to Article 21 on hybrid threats and response options, the Allies “are enhancing our resilience, improving our situational awareness, and strengthening our deterrence and defence posture,” and “continue to support our partners as they strengthen their resilience in the face of hybrid challenges.”

In 2018, the issue of resilience appeared both in general points on cooperation with partners and in Article 66 on Ukraine: “We welcome the developing cooperation between NATO and Ukraine on Black Sea security. We will also support Ukraine’s efforts to strengthen its resilience against hybrid threats, including through intensifying activities under the NATO-Ukraine Platform on Countering Hybrid Warfare.”

The Brussels Summit Communiqué (2021) mentions the word “resilience” 38 times in the context of terrorism, hybrid threats, energy security, military capacity, politics, space and more. Two articles of the Communiqué are especially important as they offer a comprehensive perspective on resilience-building and priorities in this. Both articles primarily focus on national responsibility for resilience-building and development. 

Article 6 (с) says that member-states agreed to “enhance our resilience. Noting that resilience remains a national responsibility, we will adopt a more integrated and better coordinated approach, consistent with our collective commitment under Article 3 of the North Atlantic Treaty, to reduce vulnerabilities and ensure our militaries can effectively operate in peace, crisis and conflict. Allies will develop a proposal to establish, assess, review and monitor resilience objectives to guide nationally-developed resilience goals and implementation plans…”

Article 30 says that “resilience is essential for credible deterrence and defence and the effective fulfilment of the Alliance’s core tasks. It is a national responsibility and a collective commitment, anchored in Article 3 of the Washington Treaty. Recognising the significant progress achieved since our Resilience Commitment at the 2016 Warsaw Summit, we have agreed today a Strengthened Resilience Commitment that sets out further steps we intend to take in the coming years. We will continue to take a whole-of-government approach to enhancing the resilience of our societies, and achieving the seven NATO Baseline Requirements for national resilience, through enhanced civil-military cooperation and civil preparedness; closer engagement with our populations, the private sector, and non-governmental actors; and the centres of expertise on resilience established by Allies. We welcome the establishment of the Euro-Atlantic Centre for Resilience in Romania. NATO and Allies, within their respective authority, will maintain and enhance the security of our critical infrastructure, key industries, supply chains, and communication information networks, including 5G. NATO will further strengthen its own resilience, ensuring our ability to consult, decide, and act together. We will continue to work closely with our partners and other international organizations engaged in similar efforts in order to make the Euro-Atlantic area and our broader neighbourhood more secure.” 

The implementation of commitments on strengthening resilience undertaken by member-states in Warsaw in 2016 was reviewed in Brussels, and an updated document was proposed. In addition to reaffirming earlier commitments, the new version mentioned the COVID19 pandemic and lessons learned from the collective response of member-states to reflect the current reality. 

Article 6 of the Strengthened Resilience Commitment (2021) says, “The COVID-19 pandemic has severely tested our nations and our resilience. Our response has underlined the importance of civil-military engagement and cooperation, and demonstrated the vital roles that our armed forces play in supporting our societies New commitments appear in Article 8: “…We will step up efforts to secure and diversify our supply chains, as well as to ensure the resilience of our critical infrastructure (on land, at sea, in space and in cyberspace) and key industries, including by protecting them from harmful economic activities. We will build on our work to address the impact of emerging technologies, to secure next-generation communications systems and to protect technology and intellectual property. We will bolster our efforts to meet challenges to our energy security, and to deal with the impact of natural hazards that are being exacerbated by climate change. We will enhance resilience by strengthening our efforts to invest in robust, flexible and interoperable military capabilities.” 

Heads of State and Government agreed on NATO Climate Change and Security Action Plan at the meeting in June 2021. According to the Action Plan, “climate change makes it harder for militaries to carry out their tasks. Greater temperature extremes, sea level rise, rapid changes in precipitation patterns, and an increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events test the resilience of our military installations and critical infrastructure, impair the effectiveness of our capabilities, and may create harsher conditions for our military operations and missions.” 

In one of the planned actions, in addition to evaluation and monitoring, factoring climate change in procurements, etc., member-states propose to include climate change in their work on resilience building, civilian preparedness, defence planning, placement of forces and means, innovation, training and more. Another ambition is to increase involvement in the dialogue on climate change: “NATO will strengthen exchanges with partner countries, as well as with international and regional organizations that are active on climate change and security issues, including the EU, the UN, and others, where appropriate. NATO will also increase dialogue with civil society, academia and industry on climate change and security issues, to support its work and contribute to the global response to climate change.”

The 2021 report for NATO Parliamentary Assembly acknowledges that NATO’s military capabilities and actions largely depend on the support of the civilian sector, expertise and infrastructure. Not all security threats faced by NATO are of military nature, and they tend to have a negative impact on various aspects of life of society. This pushes NATO to combine military and civilian responses to threats.

Following a range of consultations as part of the preparation for drafting the new 2030 NATO Strategic Concept, Secretary-General presented Nine Specific Proposals for NATO 2030 in June 2021. One focused on improving resilience: “Proposal 3: Improved Resilience Allies will take a broader and more coordinated approach to resilience. They agreed to develop resilience objectives to guide nationally-tailored resilience goals and implementation plans, based on clearer and more measurable Alliance-wide resilience objectives. This will allow NATO to better advise and assess national resilience efforts in support of NATO’s collective defence and to better link resilience with the Alliance’s broader posture and plans. Allies agreed to designate a senior official to coordinate efforts on the national level, and enhance and streamline consultations within NATO.”

The answer to ‘Why this is important?’, a question that follows the proposal, in addition to previously mentioned references to mutual dependency of the civilian and military sectors, importance of resilience for security, and confirmation of baselines, also refers to the previously published Report of member-state defence ministers on the state of critical infrastructure, including ports, airports, the supply of fuel, food and medical equipment, and the state of communication networks, including 5G.

Generally, NATO makes a point that “each NATO member country needs to be resilient to resist and recover from a major shock such as a natural disaster, failure of critical infrastructure, or a hybrid or armed attack. Resilience is a society’s ability to resist and recover from such shocks and combines both civil preparedness and military capacity.”


The North Atlantic Treaty Organization places the responsibility for building resilience on national governments. It is thus important to analyse a role of the resilience concept in Ukraine’s latest strategic documents and an extent to which it matches the priorities defined by NATO. 

The 2020 National Security Strategy of Ukraine calls for setting up a national resilience system to ensure a high level of preparedness for society and the state to respond to a wide range of threats. Among other things, this will include “evaluation of risks, timely identification of threats and vulnerabilities; efficient strategic planning and crisis management, including the introduction of universal protocols for crisis response and renewal taking into account NATO recommendations; effective coordination and clear interaction of security and defence sectors, and other state agencies, territorial communities, business, civil society and the population in preventing and responding to threats and overcoming the consequences of emergencies…” (Art. 47). 

Also, the Strategy focuses on creating “an efficient system of security and resilience of critical infrastructure based on a clear division of responsibility of its agents, and on the public-private partnership” (Art. 48). 

This is the first document that entails constructing the system of resilience based on NATO recommendations, and stresses the coordination of actions of the security and civilian sectors. At the same time, the objects of critical infrastructure are singled out from among other elements of state resilience. 

2021 Foreign Policy Strategy of Ukraine also emphasises resilience. Art. 15 lists the principle of resilience, meaning “the ability of the state and society to effectively counter threats of any origin and nature, including military aggression, economic pressure, political destabilization, cyberattacks, disinformation and other threats, adjust to changes of the security environment, support sustainable operation and recover quickly from crises,” as one of the criteria for implementing the Strategy. Compared to the National Security Strategy, this definition is fuller and more comprehensive, is better in line with international practices and opens opportunities for cooperation with partners. 

In addition, Art. 58 says that “it is important to intensify Ukraine’s interaction with the EU, NATO, and their member-states in order to improve defence capabilities and national resilience.”

The key objective of the 2021 Military Security Strategy of Ukraine is an “all-encompassing and in-advance-prepared defence of Ukraine, which is based on deterrence, resilience, and interaction.” At the same time, the definition of resilience and its role – while being quite elaborate – lacks an important component that is present in all of the NATO’s documents on resilience. This component is civil-military cooperation and awareness of interdependency and joint responsibility of the civilian and military sectors in crises. According to the General Provisions, “Resilience in all-encompassing defence of Ukraine is accomplished through the ability of the state governance system, defence forces, national economy, infrastructure and society to quickly recover and adjust to changes in the security environment and to lengthy resist in countering and deterring armed aggression against Ukraine; support of capabilities to carry out strategic deployment, territorial defence of Ukraine, resistance movement; operations (battle, special, stabilization activities ); and setting up reliable channels of communication with the population and supporting its life-being.” This definition is essentially focused on the role of the military in times of a military standoff, leaving their role out of focus in natural and technological disasters and challenges, such as a pandemic. 

Given the national priority of building resilience, the 2021 Annual National Program under the auspices of the NATO-Ukraine Commission should also be analysed in a Ukrainian rather than bilateral context. Focused on resilience, Strategic Goal 1.5 states that “National resilience is ensured on a permanent basis.” It lists the following objectives for 2021: 

  • Objective 1.5.1. A national resilience system is created; 
  • Objective 1.5.2. State system for the protection of critical infrastructure ensures uninterrupted and sustainable operation of objects of critical infrastructure and protection of the population; 
  • Objective 1.5.3. Increased energy independence and energy security in terms of supply of fuels;
  • Objective 1.5.4. The financial system of Ukraine is capable of countering threats and continuing to perform its functions with minimum damage to the population, business, and financial institutions.

The last objective is controversial and questionable in terms of being included in the section focused on building the national resilience system because it covers both the financial stability of the state, something that can be referred to as resilience-building, and the rights of creditors and consumers of financial services, floating currency exchange rate, financial literacy of the population, etc. This trend is risky as it can lead to attempts to include in the national resilience system all elements of the state and society functioning, which in general belongs to the category of good governance and market economy. 

In addition to a specific strategic goal, resilience-related issues are also present in the sections on cybersecurity, telecommunications, the National Guard, public communications, and the social resilience of communities. 

Approved with the Presidential Decree on September 27, 2021, the Concept of Introducing the National Resilience System was the first document that defined the problems and challenges, offered solution algorithms and was an attempt to look at the system of resilience comprehensively from the perspective of all government agencies and possible international cooperation. The ways to solve the problems related to constructing the national resilience system listed in the Concept include deeper international cooperation in ensuring resilience, taking into account global and regional security processes with NATO in a key role. For example, it speaks of “implementing reforms aimed at strengthening special partnership with NATO and gaining full NATO membership for Ukraine; including the respective goals, priority tasks, and activities for state entities aimed at creating a national operational system of resilience in annual national programs under the auspices of NATO-Ukraine Commission.”

The expected results of the Concept implementation include “the development of international cooperation and experience sharing on the development of the national resilience system and integration of Ukraine into the system of Euro-Atlantic security.” 

A comparison of the baseline requirements for the resilience system in NATO and Ukraine shows that their perspectives and approaches on this are mostly compatible. In Ukraine, the Government Office for Coordination of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration was in charge of drafting the Concept. Therefore, the Concept of Introducing the National Resilience System shows traces of the influence of NATO’s baseline requirements for building the system. 

Table 1: Baseline requirements for the resilience system in NATO and Ukraine 



1) assured operability and capability of the system of state agencies to be fully functional, their institutional resilience

1) assured continuity of government and critical government services: for instance, the ability to make decisions, communicate them and enforce them in a crisis; 

2) security and protection of critical infrastructure, including: 

resilient food and water resources, power and heat supplies;

resilient functioning of transport systems; 


protection and uninterrupted functioning of information and communication services; 

ensuring defence and law enforcement; 

ability of the healthcare system to operate under increased pressure.

2) resilient food and water resources: ensuring these supplies are safe from disruption or sabotage; 

3) resilient energy supplies: back-up plans and power grids, internally and across borders;

4) resilient transport systems: ensuring that NATO forces can move across Alliance territory rapidly and that civilian services can rely on transportation networks, even in a crisis

5) resilient civil communications systems: ensuring that telecommunications and cyber networks function even under crisis conditions, with sufficient back-up capacity. This requirement was updated in November 2019 by NATO Defence Ministers, who stressed the need for reliable communications systems, including 5G, robust options to restore these systems, priority access to national authorities in times of crisis, and the thorough assessments of all risks to communications systems 

6) ability to deal with mass casualties: ensuring that civilian health systems can cope and that sufficient medical supplies are stocked and secure 

3) ability of the unified state system of civil protection to act amidst a threat of emergency or in an emergency;


4) ability to effectively respond to uncontrolled mass movement of people;

7) Ability to deal effectively with uncontrolled movement of people, and to de-conflict these movements from NATO’s military deployments 

5) social resilience, including against information influences;


6) financial and economic resilience, including uninterrupted basic business processes. 


The Ukrainian system essentially adds two additional criteria to NATO’s seven baseline requirements, including resilience to information influences and financial and economic resilience. “The ability of the unified state system of civil protection to act amidst a threat of emergency or in an emergency” should probably not be listed as baseline requirements as it describes the system of resilience and the ability of government agencies to act effectively and in a coordinated manner. So, this answers the question “how?” rather than “what?”. 

Furthermore, the National Concept entails the establishment of the office of national coordinator of Ukraine’s cooperation with NATO in building the national resilience system, in line with the Proposals of NATO Secretary-General for the NATO 2030 Concept for member-states. 

In practical terms, Ukraine and NATO have been in a dialogue on resilience building, joint consultations, training and more for years now. In February 2019, NATO sent a team of experts on civil preparedness to Ukraine who developed the respective recommendations. In June 2020, the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre helped coordinate assistance during the flood in Ukraine. In September 2021, the first Coherent Resilience exercise was held in Odesa.

Apart from that, the top officials of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine present Ukraine in NATO’s Civil Emergency Planning Committee and officials from other ministries and agencies are engaged in the work of individual groups. Back in 1997, Ukraine signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Civil Emergency Planning and Disaster Preparedness with NATO. It lists the key spheres of mutual interest in developing further cooperation, including risk evaluation, planning, analysis of consequences, preventive measures, interoperability of disaster response units, transport support of operations, response to nuclear and radiation incidents, search and rescue operations, and protection of critical infrastructure. In line with the Memorandum, the Ukraine-NATO Joint Working Group on Civil Emergency Planning was set up.

In February 2020, NATO experts visited Ukraine to analyse its current capabilities to counter various challenges and threats faced by Ukraine. The analysis resulted in practical recommendations for establishing a national resilience training centre in Ukraine. Ukraine announced plans to establish a Resilience Centre considering NATO standards and principles in early 2021, but nothing is known about the implementation of these plans. 


Based on NATO’s experience in building resilience and the existing formats of cooperation with other NATO enhanced opportunities partners, the following recommendations can help strengthen Ukraine’s cooperation with NATO in building an efficient system of national resilience and increasing interoperability: 

  1. Consider establishing a NATO-Ukraine working group on the resilience system. Work on the respective issues within the mentioned above Ukraine-NATO Joint Working Group on Civil Emergency Planning limits the comprehensive approach and essentially narrows resilience to emergencies and protection of critical infrastructure. Apart from that, the Working Group has been the least active of all existing Ukraine-NATO working groups in recent years. 
  2. Analyse the practicality of introducing Ukraine-NATO-EU-UN consultations to increase the synergy of implemented programs that cover priorities of building resilience and avoid overlapping efforts. 
  3. Propose consultations on resilience building within NATO+EOP. The first meeting could take place at the Madrid summit in June 2022. 
  4. Establish contact and work out options of cooperation with the Euro-Atlantic Centre for Resilience that was established in Romania in May 2021. While the Centre has not been accredited in NATO yet, this is the goal. Apart from that, Romania will deepen the Euro-Atlantic dimension of the Centre’s operations as a NATO member-state. Its key functions include minimizing risks through forecasting and adjustment, developing best practices and analytical tools, cooperation in education and joint exercise. 
  5. Put forward proposals on consultations on climate within the NATO-Ukraine Commission, taking into account the Climate Change and Security Action Plan approved by NATO in June 2021. It describes the role NATO plans to play in fighting climate change. As a voluntary contribution, Ukraine can conduct the Climate Change and Security Impact Assessment which NATO member-states decided to hold annually. 
  6. Hold international Coherent Resilience 2 exercise. The first Coherent Resilience in September 2021 illustrated the importance of including an international component and engaging representatives of NATO agencies and member-states – primarily NATO members that are Ukraine’s neighbours – as participants rather than just facilitators or organizers. Understanding the importance of such exercise and having the experience of earlier exercises, Ukraine should have a greater say in designing the scenarios that better reflect the current risks and the necessary tasks. 
  7. Conduct joint parliamentary-government hearings on the implementation of the Concept of National Resilience and on building the national resilience system in Ukraine. 
  8. Propose a session that will focus on resilience cooperation between NATO and partner-states at the spring meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Ukraine in 2022. 
  9. Hold public consultations on setting up a Resilience Centre in Ukraine as announced in early 2021 and on possible options for engaging experts and NGOs in its work. 

Prepared under the project “Ukraine – NATO: Enhanced level” by the Foreign Policy Council “Ukrainian Prism” with the support of NATO Representation to Ukraine