Arms Control and Deterrence: The Euromissiles, Then and Now

Submitted by Inge on Sun, 09/03/2023 - 10:28

Paper series - Strategic Stability: Deterrence and Arms Control

Arms Control and Deterrence: The Euromissiles, Then and Now

The prospects for meaningful arms control negotiations seem slim these days. In recent years, commentators have speculated widely about the decline of arms control in international politics. Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, widening the war first launched in 2014, has only exacerbated this sense of pessimism about the future of arms control.

Looking to the past can help us consider the advantages and potential risks resulting from this broad approach. Revisiting the history of NATO’s struggles over the Euromissiles – the theater nuclear forces (TNF) or intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) deployed in Europe during the late Cold War – can shed light on some of the basic dilemmas and difficulties facing arms control and deterrence today. With that in mind, what follows highlights four central takeaways from the history of the Euromissiles before turning to reflect on the similarities and differences between then and now.


The authors

Susan Colbourn

Edited by Paul van Hooft - The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)


Dancing in the Dark

Submitted by Inge on Sun, 09/03/2023 - 10:02

Dancing in the Dark: The Seven Sins of Deterrence Assessment

Although the logic of deterrence and its real-world applications may appear intuitively simple and elegant, measuring its effectiveness is much more challenging. When it comes to deterrence, deterrence policymakers can in fact be likened to dancers in the dark: they may know their own deterrence moves, but they can only surmise what the intentions of their counterparts are, and how their deterrence measures shape adversarial behaviour. For analysts of deterrence, this leads to a host of empirical, theoretical, and methodological challenges.

Robust assessment and evaluation of deterrence policies are of paramount importance to improve the effectiveness of policies going forward. Addressing the seven sins of deterrence analysis by heeding the maxims listed in this report will increase the validity of deterrence assessments and provide analysts and policymakers with a toolkit to improve their evaluation of deterrence strategies.


The Authors

Tim Sweijs & Mattia Bertolini - The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)


Assessing the Royal Navy’s presence in the Indo-Pacific

Submitted by Inge on Sat, 09/02/2023 - 10:36

Paper series - Europe in the Indo-Pacific Hub

Tailored, tokenistic, or too much? Assessing the Royal Navy’s presence in the Indo-Pacific

The war in Ukraine has raised fresh doubts over the will and ability of European states to play a meaningful role in the Indo-Pacific. This paper explores the rationale and efficacy of small or token defence deployments – with a specific focus on the defence component of the Indo-Pacific tilt.


The authors

William D. James 

Edited by Paul van Hooft - The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)


Nuclear Command and Control and Strategic Stability

Submitted by Inge on Sat, 09/02/2023 - 10:19

Paper series - Strategic Stability: Deterrence and Arms Control

Strategic stability refers to the ability of states to interact during crises without escalating diplomatic and conventional military disputes to the use of nuclear weapons. This essay evaluates the effects of nuclear command and control systems on strategic stability in crisis scenarios. The essay argues that states with command and control systems that delegate the ability to use nuclear weapons to lower-level commanders early in a crisis create conditions that endanger strategic stability and risk unintended nuclear escalation. Concerningly, such nuclear command and control arrangements increase the likelihood that nuclear weapons are used in conflict, even if neither side in a crisis formally crosses an established red line beforehand. This study defines the concept of nuclear command and control, details the challenges that command and control systems pose for strategic stability, identifies challenges to strategic stability in Europe and East Asia, and discusses opportunities for policymakers to reinforce strategic stability in those regions. Although nuclear command and control systems are difficult to shape directly, policymakers can promote strategic stability by engaging in near-term efforts to strengthen nuclear deterrence and long-term efforts to achieve limited arms control agreements between countries.


The authors

Giles David Arceneaux

Edited by Paul van Hooft - The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)


Future European Contributions to Arms Control

Submitted by Inge on Sat, 09/02/2023 - 10:14

Paper series - Strategic Stability: Deterrence and Arms Control

Future European Contributions to Arms Control: Compete to Negotiate

Increasing violence by revisionist regimes in China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea is breaking the current arms control regime. European countries can best respond to this challenge by leaning into military technical competition in the short term to produce better arms control results over the longer term. Effective military-technical competition serves to reinforce deterrence as a prerequisite to negotiations; incentivise adversaries to negotiate seriously and make meaningful concessions; and compel rivals to abide by agreements once concluded. European countries should consider how they can best stand with other law-abiding nations around the world to compete more effectively in military technology and structure future negotiations with an eye towards restraining violent revisionist challenges.


The authors

John D. Maurer

Edited by Paul van Hooft - The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)


Unravelling Turkish involvement in the Sahel

Submitted by Inge on Fri, 07/28/2023 - 15:51

In the past decade, Turkey has significantly expanded its engagement in Africa, leading to concerns within the European Union (EU) that this influence might be used to undermine EU policy and member states. This policy brief analyses the strategic motives and evolution of Turkish involvement in the Sahel region, focusing specifically on Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Drawing from interviews conducted with Sahelian and Turkish political, business, diplomatic and educational stakeholders between October and December 2022, the authors contend that Turkey’s foreign policy in the Sahel demonstrates a multifaceted approach that aims to strengthen its presence across economic, cultural, defence and development spheres. However, it is also emphasised that Turkey’s engagement in the Sahel remains relatively limited when compared to its activities in other African countries, for example Libya, Somalia and Algeria. In light of these findings, this policy brief recommends that the EU adopt a pragmatic approach, drawing lessons from Turkey’s strategy while trying to manage, and where possible benefit from, the impact of Turkish security assistance and to foster opportunities for Sahelian populations in Europe through scholarships and employment initiatives.

As a disclaimer, this research was carried out shortly before political unrest rose in Niger in late July 2023, including the conducting of all interviews. Therefore, the information related to Niger in this work is based on the previous period.


The authors

Andrew Lebovich, Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute

Nienke van Heukelingen, Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute


The war in Ukraine

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 07/26/2023 - 15:47

Adapting the EU’s security and defence policy

Russia’s war in Ukraine is violating the rules-based international order and poses a significant threat to European security. The EU and NATO have responded by taking coordinated action. The measures taken have varied from unprecedented sanctions on Russia to assisting Ukraine with the delivery of arms and ammunition. The war in Ukraine has led to an even stronger focus on collective defence, which was already put in motion after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Furthermore, the European security architecture has witnessed a significant change with Finland (and later this year Sweden) joining the North Atlantic Alliance. At the Vilnius Summit (11-12 July 2023), NATO has taken new decisions to strengthen its deterrence and defence posture.

The authors

Dick Zandee, Head of the Security Unit at the Clingendael Institute

Adája Stoetman, Research Fellow at the Security Unit of the Clingendael Institute


The EU in the South Caucasus

Submitted by Inge on Mon, 05/22/2023 - 13:32

Navigating a geopolitical labyrinth in turmoil

The tectonic plates of geopolitics are shifting in such a profound way that has not been seen since the end of the Cold War. The Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 has not only increased tensions between the world’s major powers, but also severely impacted the regions in which they traditionally strive to project their power. This applies especially to areas in the wider Eurasian region that the Russian Federation unjustifiably considers as part of its sphere of influence, such as the South Caucasus. Russia’s failure to achieve a quick and decisive victory in its full-scale invasion of Ukraine has not only forced the Kremlin to limit its objectives on the battlefield, at least for the time being, to Ukraine’s east. It has also reduced the credibility of the Russian military that much of its power projection has depended upon – and has reduced its attractiveness as a security partner for countries that have traditionally regarded Russia as such. Russia has had to withdraw some of its troops and military equipment from the South Caucasus, its leadership is preoccupied with Ukraine, and it has not lived up to its security commitments to Armenia. This has contributed to a geopolitical vacuum and uncertainty in the South Caucasus that other actors are eager to exploit.

Overzicht van de geopolitieke actoren en relaties in de Zuid-Kaukasus. © Clingendael
Overview of the geopolitical actors and relations in the South Caucasus  © Clingendael

While both Russia and much of the rest of the world were focusing predominantly on Ukraine, in the meanwhile violence has once again flared up between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the situation both on the military and on the diplomatic fronts is changing rapidly. Both the US and the EU have made attempts to increase their leverage in the region at Russia’s expense. Most notably the US sent its Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to Armenia in September 2022, in the highest-level visit by a US official since Armenia’s independence, in order to project US support. The EU has tried to seize the initiative as a facilitator and mediator between Yerevan and Baku and has sent an EU Mission to Armenia, first as a temporary monitoring capacity in October 2022 and in January 2023 with a dedicated field operation despite Azerbaijani objections. In Georgia, where the EU has had such a field presence since 2008 and has mediated in the protracted conflicts over Abkhazia and South Ossetia, it has also recently taken a central role in mediating between the different factions that are dominating Georgia’s polarised political landscape, using Georgia’s newly obtained status as a potential EU candidate country as political leverage.

The EU’s increased level of geopolitical ambition and its desire to expand its influence in the South Caucasus creates a degree of competition with regional powers that have long dominated the region such as Russia, Turkey and Iran. The EU’s ability to effectuate change in this complex geopolitical environment is still relatively modest. Nevertheless, the Russian invasion of Ukraine seems to provide momentum for the EU to assert stronger agency towards the protracted conflicts that continue to hinder the development of the countries of the South Caucasus and that undermine stability in the region at large, including not only Nagorno-Karabakh but also Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The EU could thereby make optimal use of the leverage stemming from its bilateral agreements with Georgia and Armenia, the Georgian EU perspective and Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s participation in the European Political Community (EPC). The big question is how to meet this challenge. In this context, this report examines further options for an enhanced geopolitical role of the EU in the South Caucasus. Therefore, the main research question of the report is:

How can the European Union contribute effectively and in a balanced way to the resolution of ‘protracted conflicts’ and a decrease in geopolitical tensions in the South Caucasus?


Bob Deen, Senior Research Fellow & Coordinator Russia and Eastern Europe Centre at the Clingendael Institute

Wouter Zweers, Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute 

Camille Linder, former research intern at the Clingendael Institute

On patrol in Field Office Gori Area of Operations © EUMM

Pathways to Disaster

Submitted by Inge on Mon, 05/22/2023 - 11:35

Pathways to Disaster: Russia’s War against Ukraine and the Risks of Inadvertent Nuclear Escalation

The risk of inadvertent nuclear escalation due to policies in the conventional domain is a serious, and underrated, feature of the current stand-off between NATO and Russia that has followed Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. NATO leaders and armed forces need to be conscious of unintended signals that can follow the placement of weapons, the movement of forces, and support to Ukraine, especially considering the state of the Russian armed forces.

Given the growing stresses and strains on Russian capabilities, stocks, and organisation, multiple pathways appear towards inadvertent escalation. We identify four: (1) uncertainty whether intentions are offensive or defensive, also known as the security dilemma; (2) the nature of military organisations; (3) general informational complexity; and (4) comingling or entanglement of conventional and nuclear weapons, delivery systems, and enablers.

The brief applies the four mechanisms to current trends in Russia and notes that evidence exists for all four pathways.


The authors

Paul van Hooft, Davis Ellison & Tim Sweijs - The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)


The Multiannual Financial Framework

Submitted by Inge on Mon, 05/01/2023 - 13:36

The search for flexibility and recognised effectiveness

The European Union (EU) is currently confronted with developments that could have deep impacts on our societies and policies. Yet the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) – which defines the size and aim of the EU budget over a certain period of time – has difficulties in overcoming its inflexibility and ensuring best value in relation to shifting priorities. One important step that could modernise the MFF would be to improve the use of effectiveness assessments in relation to EU spending.

In 2003, André Sapir and colleagues famously referred to the MFF as a ‘historic relic’ with expenditures, revenues and procedures being ‘inconsistent with the present and future state of EU integration’. Although the MFF has improved since then, it continues to suffer from discrepancies between stated priorities and actual spending. EU finances risk becoming increasingly reliant on funds and instruments outside the MFF ceiling because existing programmes are hard to change. Moreover, doubts about the effectiveness of the MFF remain. With European integration having moved far beyond the level of technical harmonisation of the internal market, the EU budget, arguably, needs more flexibility to respond to current geopolitical and societal challenges and investment needs. As political discussions on the next MFF – the current MFF runs from 2021 to 2027 – are starting, this report discusses avenues for realigning expenditures to changing EU priorities and to unforeseen challenges and crises.

In order to enhance flexibility suitable procedures are required that would lead to political decisions based on accurate assessments. Furthermore, better methods are needed to communicate potential – and possibly painful – shifts in priorities to the broader public. In order to develop such procedures, thorough analysis and discussion are needed on the effectiveness of EU programmes and the use of effectiveness assessments in redefining political priorities.

This report therefore relates the concept of European added value – defined by the Commission as ‘the value resulting from an EU intervention which is additional to the value that would have been otherwise created by Member State action alone’ – to mechanisms to better respond to new situations. One of the questions this raises is whether the current (multilevel) systems for assessing European added value are able to offer the timely information needed for flexibility. Given the workload involved in performance assessments, and given the importance of national ownership of reforms, further analysis is needed of the role of the European Court of Auditors (ECA) and its interactions with its national counterparts.


  1. Any shortening of the MFF’s duration could improve the EU’s ability to respond to changing priorities. Yet rather than focusing on the length of the budget cycle – a discussion that is ongoing – it is advised to focus instead on the length of programmes under the MFF (some may run for three years, others for ten)
  2. Flexibility can be explored through working with sunset clauses – meaning that programmes cease to be effective after a specific date unless further action is taken. The use of such clauses should be tied to requirements for independent assessments of the European added value before decisions on prolongation are taken. This may help to sharpen political discussions on reprioritisation.
  3. The financing of the MFF via the national contributions, based on a specific percentage of gross national income (GNI), is a fair and efficient foundation for the EU budget. The GNI principle also ensures that money is scarce: priorities have to be matched with the existing contours of the EU budget. This serves the efficiency of the budget and helps to focus attention on EU added value (the effectiveness of the budget).
  4. A fixed percentage of GNI could help to recommit to the scarcity principle in the budget and could help to prioritise expenditure in line with EU objectives. More important than the actual amount of this percentage, however, is whether decisions on the selection of programmes are based on effectiveness assessments. The GNI contribution could possibly be increased if linked to a deeper use of independent effectiveness assessments.
  5. Assessment of the European added value of the EU budget demands a reconsideration of the current audit mechanisms in terms of their timing, lessons learned, and subsidiarity-based ways of working when it comes to pan-European assessments of effectiveness.
  6. Provided that independent assessments and their use are improved, the European perspective in the MFF could be further reinforced through more fundamental reforms such as introducing Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) in the Council in revising the MFF and extending the powers of the European Parliament through co-decision in the adoption of the MFF.

These actions would result in a reform package aimed at strengthening European added value (and hence flexibility) combining a fixed percentage of GNI and effectiveness assessments of spending before political decisions are made on prolongation of programmes. Given the starting point that money is scarce, this package will produce considerable political heat over the use of the EU budget. This heat can be considered as part of normal politics regarding budgets.

Such reforms will involve serious discussions and demand considerable time. It is nevertheless worthwhile to put them on the agenda to explore new directions in the move away from the current inflexibility and juste retour. Juste retour – which implies the net budgetary balance that simply compares a member state’s financial contribution to the EU budget with the money that flows back into the country – is a misleading indicator of the benefits of EU spending. Rather, this reform package would support assessments-based budgetary decisions that contribute to the European added value of the budget.


Adriaan Schout, Senior Research Fellow at the EU and Global Affairs Unit of the Clingendael Institute

Saskia Hollander, Senior Research Fellow at the EU and Global Affairs Unit of the Clingendael Institute