Nato’s principle of collective defence, should be widened to include fake news and cyber hacking, the alliance’s top British officer has said, suggesting that recent moves by Russia be considered acts of aggression. In the wake of Russia’s alleged interference in the US election, European spy agencies fear that Moscow is also involved in meddling in ballots in Germany, France and the Netherlands amid concern that it seeks to promote populist parties. General Sir Adrian Bradshaw said that disinformation and interference could come under the remit of Article 5 of Nato’s treaty. The 1949 founding article specifies defence against an armed attack, but its critics argue that it does not take into account the nature of hybrid 21st century warfare.
“It is not out of the question that aggression, blatant aggression, in a domain other than conventional warfare might be deemed to be Article 5,” he said, according to The Times.
After Russia annexed Crimea, Bradshaw became deputy supreme allied commander in Europe and has overseen an increase of alliance troops and wargames near the border with Russia. In the coming weeks, Nato will deploy 4,000 British soldiers to the Baltic states and Poland.