Ukraine

Ukraine Russia Crisis: Terrorism Briefing

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On 24 February, Russia launched an attack on Ukraine. Figure 1 highlights that the invasion comes after a decade of deteriorating relations between Russia, Ukraine and the West.

This brief covers several aspects relating to the current Ukrainian war, including the frequency of past acts of terrorism in Russia, Ukraine and Georgia and cover likely future scenarios. It also analyses cyberattacks on Ukraine over the last decade and lead up to the current war.

The main finding is that terrorism increases with the intensity of conflict. Both the Georgian conflict in 2008 and the Ukrainian conflict of 2014 saw substantial spikes in terrorist activity around the wars, and as the current war intensifies increased terrorist activity should be expected.

Secondly, cyberattacks on Ukraine have markedly increased over the last decade, and especially in the months and weeks leading up to the war. Further, cyberattacks have the potential to unintentionally spillover into other countries because of global connectivity. The effects of which have been seen on numerous occasions. As cyberattacks by nefarious actors are a recent phenomenon, and given the difficulty in the attribution of such attacks, the demarcation between what constitutes a cyberattack, cyber warfare or cyber terrorism are unclear. Regardless, this report looks at the broad phenomena of cyberattacks in Ukraine to offer background on recent events.

HIGHLIGHTS

• There is a strong relation between terrorism and conflict, with 97 per cent of all terrorist deaths recorded in a conflict zone.

• Terrorism deaths in Ukraine are expected to increase substantially in the coming months and will rise proportionally with the intensity of the conflict.

• This is despite that terrorism in Russia and Ukraine had been an improving - in Russia since 2012 and the Ukraine since 2015.

• Terrorist attacks in Russia had been declining since 2012 when 213 attacks were recorded. In 2021 there was only one.

• Terrorist attacks in Ukraine peaked in 2015 with 58 attacks, while in 2021 there were none.

• Terrorist deaths in Ukraine peaked during 2014 conflict with Russia.

• Terrorism peaked in the Russia and Eurasia region in 2010 in the wake of the Russian-Georgia conflict with 339 attacks and 318 deaths recorded.

• The period in between the conflict with Georgia and the annexation of Crimea accounted for the most terrorism in Russia over the last two decades with 87 per cent of attacks and fatalities occurring between 2008 and 2014.

• Russia, Ukraine and Belarus were the only countries in the region to record over one thousand violent demonstrations in 2021.