London/Brussels : ‘Russia’s interference in the US elections and the elections in European countries, along with the ‘Disinformation campaign’, being conducted on international level by Russia, could be an ‘act of war’. As per NATO’s Treaty, any of its member countries has the right to counter such attacks in self defense and all the member countries can participate in it’, warned a senior NATO official. Against the background of the furor created on the issue of Russia’s alleged interference in the US elections and the warnings issued by the agencies in France and Germany vis-a-vis elections, the statement by the NATO official has attracted worldwide attention..
According to NATO’s treaty, decision-making on ‘article-5’ is entirely a political procedure. However, NATO’s ‘Article-5’ can also be applicable to brazen attempts of attacks in any form other than the conventional warfare. NATO has already declared that the cyber warfare can be a part of warfare. ‘The scope of cyber warfare is ever increasing and in future, there will be no conflict without a cyber warfare’, in these words, General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO, pointed out that Russia’s cyber attacks could be considered an ‘act of war’.
Similarly, General Bradshaw also mentioned the ‘Information Warfare’, being conducted by Russia. The NATO official stated that the meddling in the US elections and the activities during the European elections are also part of this warfare only. He also claimed that the ‘fake news’ and the ‘disinformation campaign’ being carried out by Russia, will prove to be a milestone in broadening the definition of ‘war’ as mentioned in the NATO treaty.
As per the current NATO treaty, any armed attack on one or more member nations will be considered as an attack on NATO as a whole, which allows the member nations to respond to it collectively. This article was invoked at the time of 9/11 terrorist attack on the US and also during the civil wars in Syria and Ukraine. However, against the background of growing cyber attacks on its member countries over the past few years, NATO is gearing up for the cyber warfare also. NATO has built up an independent system for the same and joint exercises in the field of cyber warfare are also being organised for the past few years.
The investigation agencies and the intelligence agencies of the US, have submitted the reports that Russia had interfered in the US elections. In Europe, the intelligence agencies of Germany and France also had issued warning regarding the growing interference of Russia. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as the French President had earlier expressed fear that Russia can meddle in the elections in the countries. Hence, the warning issued by a senior NATO official like Bradshaw is indicative of a fresh conflict between Russia and NATO.