The Last Diplomatic Frontier: Prague Conference on Space Security

Jana Robinson |  Photo: Prague Institute for Security Studies

“What our institute focuses on when we talk about space security is mainly about active threats.

“It means how potential adversaries, or even people who engage in irresponsible behavior, can disrupt, deny or even destroy space assets and derived services.”

When you say active threats, what exactly do you mean?

“Well, there is a whole range of threats.

“We have, for example, those that are more obvious, such as ground-based kinetic anti-satellite capabilities; that is, missiles that reach outer space and destroy satellites.

“Or we have high-powered lasers or microwaves that can destroy or blind various satellite capabilities.

“But then we have lower threshold activities.

“We call them gray area activities – or you may hear the term ‘hybrid threats’ – and these can range from cyberattacks to jamming satellite links.

“What we also include are economic and financial activities that seek to assume control or influence over other nation states.”

This year’s Space Security Conference in Prague is the sixth. What will be the main items on your agenda?

Photo: NASA

“With leading space security experts and senior civil and military officials, as well as selected industry representatives from Europe, the United States and Japan, we want to discuss the current space threat, issues such as spatial domain awareness – how do we share data but also how do we act on the data we share.

“Also a sustainable architecture for international space cooperation and enhanced cross-domain deterrents – what does that mean when we talk about this from an allied perspective?

“And also, what are the requirements for maintaining global space leadership?”

How has Russia’s war against Ukraine impacted what you call “space diplomacy”?

“First is the overambitious scale of Russia’s military aggression.

“And with respect to space, we have witnessed the indispensability of space assets in this conflict, and the use of financial and economic tools by the West for both sanctions and deterrence.

“For example, we witnessed GPS jamming by Russian forces even before the invasion, in November 2021.

Photo: RIA Novosti /, CC BY 4.0

“You may recall that a similar technique or tactic was used in 2014, before the invasion of Crimea.

“Since the start of hostilities in February, we have also suffered multifaceted cyberattacks against ViaSat satellite modems in Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe, as well as the jamming of Starlink services by Russia.

“Along with this, we saw quite irresponsible and threatening statements by the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin.

“And we also saw the abrupt end of Moscow’s space collaboration with the West, as well as Western sanctions against Russian companies.

“To get back to your question, I think what we are witnessing are just some of the most visible symptoms of a major and undesirable shift in space diplomacy and predictability, as well as global business and governmental cooperation. in the space.”

Berta D. Wells