Olivier Guetta: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine highlights the West’s weakness

Olivier Guetta is its Managing Director GlobalStratA security and geopolitical risk consulting firm for companies and governments

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought light A serious number Security was a threat has been largely ignored until now by the west. following The sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipeline, All eyes are on protecting critical infrastructure, including – crucially – digital and telecommunications infrastructure.

Over dependence on China in key strategic sectors such as telecommunications A glaring security vulnerability that exists LED The UK, Canada, Germany and Italy, among others, to block the purchase of high-tech firms by Chinese firms.

The telecom industry has come to the fore in terms of national security and aAnalysts have warned China’s involvement in communications networks could create cyber vulnerabilities while in Beijing Ongoing participation in something Digital Infrastructure projects can create intelligence risks.

To make matters worse, China may conduct surveillance on potential military forces. The United States is investigating Chinese telecom company Huawei over allegations that American cell towers installed on its gear could capture sensitive information from military bases and missile silos. which The company can then ship to China.

That risk is in part because, last November, the U.S. banned the sale of Chinese-origin communications equipment made by Huawei and ZTE, banning the use of certain Chinese-made surveillance systems due to an “unacceptable risk” to national security.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says it is “committed to protecting our national security by ensuring that untrusted communications equipment is not permitted to be used within our borders”. It is quite notable that this is the first time in FCC history that it has banned approval of new equipment based on national security concerns.

Such specific concerns are not limited to the United States. Over in Europe, a A major critical project could leave Europe at China’s mercy: the 9,300-mile Pakistan and East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) fiber-optic cable to Europe. It will travel overland from China to Pakistan, where it will sink and snake about 7,500 miles under the sea through the Horn of Africa before landing in France.

Huawei is not only making equipment for the PEACE Cable Landing Station and its underwater transmission gear, but is also the third-largest shareholder of Hengtong Optic-Electric Co, the company making the cable itself. Huawei’s founder has declared war on the West as he urges workers to ‘go ahead, kill, burn our blood trail’ in the fight for supremacy.

Moreover, he said that Huawei has ‘entered a state of war’ after a heated technology war between China and the West. In response, the UK is looking to form a coalition of ten democracies to create alternative suppliers of 5G equipment and other technologies to avoid relying on China’s Huawei.

Huawei and ZTE have also been kicked out of 5G network contracts in the US, UK, Sweden, Italy, Brazil, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Although excluding Huawei is the first step, Acquiring indigenous technology solutions for domestic critical telecom infrastructure represents a much more far-reaching measure.

Meanwhile, the EU has agreed to launch its own telecommunications satellite system to give government services secure access to the Internet in case of cyber attacks, which both Russia and China are adept at. IRIS2 (Infrastructure for Resilience, Interconnection and Security by Satellite)Which should hopefully be launched by 2027. The 6B€ project will be financed by the EU with 2.4B€ and 3.6B€ by the private sector.

The UK further strengthened its legislative arsenal by passing the National Security and Investments Act in January 2022. It is designed to prevent inappropriate foreign ownership or control of 17 key sectors of the UK economy and infrastructure. It is also designed to protect against ill-intentioned investments by potentially hostile countries such as Huawei’s planned involvement in the UK’s 5G network.

More on this and in perspective National security riskThe thing is China has led British authorities, which own 35 percent of the North West’s electricity, to block access to sensitive information about Britain’s power grid.

That China’s involvement in the global telecommunications infrastructure is a weak point is not a new realization. In the wake of the Ukraine war and the changing geopolitical landscape, however, the issue has taken on a particular urgency and should be a definite wake-up call to Western allies on both sides of the Atlantic. If the West really wants to defend itself effectively against future Chinese or Russian incursions, it has no choice but to strengthen its capabilities from within.