Russia’s belligerent actions over the past decade and a half have culminated in its full-scale invasion and illegal war against Ukraine. Given Russia’s track record of aggression, Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries are now raising a legitimate question: are we doing deterrence right?

Ukraine’s staunch and legitimate defence of its sovereignty has provided unprecedented lessons regarding what it takes to effectively resist a formidable adversary in the 21st century. It has also spotlighted the clear and powerful insight that modern warfare is increasingly centred around the digital element. While digital deterrence necessarily includes cyberwarfare, information warfare, and the use of digital technologies more broadly, this report will focus on software and data-driven capabilities. In ways that had not been tested before in a high intensity war between large conventional forces, these capabilities have become a critical enabler of cross-domain operations and an accelerator of more informed decision-making, with speed and at scale. If European allies are to get deterrence right, they cannot do so without more effective integration of software and data into their military capabilities.

This brief highlights the changing role of software in defence and deterrence and the accompanying lessons that can be learned from the war in Ukraine. It also puts forward initial recommendations on the steps CEE countries should take to achieve digital deterrence in the region.

Explore the full report below.