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Malice from Moscow: NATO warns of Russian hybrid warfare

The North Atlantic Council, the political leadership of the NATO military alliance, is warning that Russia is increasing ‘malign activities’, ranging from sabotage to cyber attacks and the spread of disinformation. It comes at a time of growing concern about Russian interference in the European Parliament election, writes Political Editor Nick Powell.

NATO’s statement asserts that members of the alliance are “deeply concerned” “about recent malign activities on allied territory”. It points to the investigation and charging of multiple individuals in connection with hostile state activity affecting Czechia, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and the United Kingdom.

These incidents are described as being “part of an intensifying campaign of activities which Russia continues to carry out across the Euro-Atlantic area”, including on NATO territory and through proxies. This includes disinformation, sabotage, acts of violence, cyber and electronic interference, disinformation campaigns, and other hybrid operations.

The North Atlantic Council states that it is deeply concerned about Russia’s hybrid actions and the threat that they constitute to NATO security. “We support and stand in solidarity with the affected allies”, the statement reads.


“We will act individually and collectively to address these actions and will continue to coordinate closely. We will continue to boost our resilience and to apply and enhance the tools at our disposal to counter and contest Russian hybrid actions and will ensure that the Alliance and Allies are prepared to deter and defend against hybrid actions or attacks.

“We condemn Russia’s behaviour and we call on Russia to uphold its international obligations, as [NATO] allies do theirs. Russia’s actions will not deter allies from continuing to support Ukraine”.

The threat of Russian disinformation spreading online is a particularly acute concern on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s thought to have driven the European Commission’s decision to open proceedings against Meta, the American company behind Facebook and Instagram, for potential breaches of the Digital Services Act.

It’s feared that that without more resources being allocated by the tech giant to combat disinformation and manipulation, the integrity of the European Parliament election will be undermined, to the benefit of pro-Russian candidates. Increased activity against the United Kingdom is also thought likely ahead of the British general election later this year and it is considered a given that Russia will attempt to influence the outcome of the American presidential election -and that it has tried before.

The Kremlin claims that in Ukraine, it is in effect fighting NATO as its members train and equip the Ukrainian armed forces and fund the country’s war effort. Consequently, it feels fully entitled to wage hybrid warfare against the countries of the military alliance that it presents to the Russian people as an existential threat to their survival as a nation.

Of course, NATO is also sending a message to its member countries and their citizens, that in supporting Ukraine they are standing up to Moscow -not merely as an act of solidarity but in response to a Russian threat to us all.



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