Countermeasures and challenges ahead

The major threat to energy infrastructure security in the areas with disputed maritime borders, including Caspian Sea, comes from state actors. Though possibility of a interstate conflict can be almost ruled out in the current situation in the Caspian, still the most relevant countermeasures which can be adopted by the littoral states of the Caspian should address the issue of interstate relations.

The first countermeasure should be an improvement in international cooperation, on a bilateral and multilateral basis. The ideal goal would be a complete and mutually satisfactory solution to the border delimitation issue. After a comprehensive agreement, no government in the region could realistically pursue an unilateral redefinition of the maritime borders without provoking a strong regional and global reaction.

Multilateral and bilateral cooperation could be useful and represent a confidence-building and security-enhancing measure even without a comprehensive agreement. In particular, ongoing and structured diplomatic interaction could be relevant in order to quickly de-escalate tensions and avoid unintended overreactions.

A second-best option to international cooperation is internal balancing i.e. an increase in military capabilities to compensate for the capabilities of potential enemies.[1] Preservation of the equilibrium in military capabilities in the region represents a strong deterrent, since it raises the costs of every unilateral action. However, it is expensive and may entail the risk of accelerating and worsening the effects of a possible escalation.

International cooperation is also a countermeasure to transnational terrorism, the other relevant threat in the Caspian context. In this case, multilateral and bilateral cooperation should extend far beyond the group of Caspian littoral states, to include all relevant countries at the global level. Since transnational terrorism operates in several countries, the pooling of intelligence and police capabilities would represent an effective way to reduce the risks of an attack on energy infrastructures.[2]

At the same time, terrorist threats can also be reduced with targeted police action, which besides conventional anti-terrorism activities should focus on limiting terrorist groups’ acquisition of key capabilities. In particular, police action should prevent contacts with those working on offshore platforms and service vessels.

Another relevant countermeasure would be the improvement of private-public cooperation. Private companies which operate offshore infrastructures have security measures and special services devoted to protecting the integrity of their facilities. Constant improvement in cooperation between these private services and state security services would enhance response capabilities.

A final countermeasure whose relevance is bound to increase in the years to come is the creation of cyber capabilities. The use of computers in every step of the energy industry cannot but increase in the future. At the same time, any possible attacker’s capabilities are also likely to increase due to their widespread and increasing access to information technologies. Producer countries’ security services should therefore develop and strengthen their cyber capabilities in order to assess the resilience of the current systems, and spot and fix their vulnerabilities.

political goals

type of actor

capabilities and tactics


- redefine rights (borders, resources ownership)

- State

  • - airpower
  • - navy and sea power
  • - bombings
  • - internal sabotage - cyber domain

- international cooperation - balancing - cyber capabilities

- regime change

- non-state actors

  • - bombings
  • - suicide-bombings
  • - internal sabotage - cyber domain
  • - international cooperation
  • - policing
  • - private-public cooperation
  • - cyber capabilities

- policy changes

- protesters activists

- bombings - internal sabotage - cyber domain

  • - policing
  • - private-public cooperation
  • - issue prevention
  • - cyber capabilities

- tolerance for illegal activities

- criminal organisations

- bombings - internal sabotage - cyber domain

  • - policing
  • - private-public cooperation - cyber capabilities

  • [1] See K. Waltz, Theory of International Relations, Wave Press, 1979, p. 168.
  • [2] See A. Novikov, “Protection of Critical Energy Infrastructure against Terrorist Attacks in the Commonwealthof Independent States (CIS)”, CTN Newsletter Special Bulletin Protecting Critical Energy Infrastructure fromTerrorist Attacks, no. 18, 2010.
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