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Iran Press TV

NATO warns Russia, other foes of 'full range' of responses

Iran Press TV

Fri May 24, 2019 08:13AM

NATO has warned Russia and other perceived foes that the US-led military alliance is prepared to use all its resources to respond to any cyber attacks, after the UK claimed that 16 member-states had been targeted by Moscow.

"For deterrence to have full effect, potential attackers must know we are not limited to respond in cyber space when we are attacked in cyber space," Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of the Western alliance, declared on Thursday in a joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in London.

"We can and will use the full range of capabilities at our disposal," he further underlined.

Stoltenberg's warning came as NATO members remained on alert in fear of possible interference in European Parliament elections that commenced in Britain and the Netherlands earlier in the day.

Last week, the European Union adopted the power to impose "targeted restrictive measures to deter and respond to cyber attacks."

Members of the cold-war era NATO alliance have also accused Moscow – without verifiable evidence -- of attempting to alter the outcome of US presidential election in 2016, and using cyber technology to impair the infrastructure of neighboring Ukraine. Russia has categorically denied the allegations.

Hunt also claimed during the press briefing that the UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has shared details of malicious Russian activity with 16 of the 29 NATO members over the past 18 months. However, he did not publicly discuss the details of such activities.

UK accuses Russian 'proxies' of election meddling

He further accused Russian "proxies" of attempting to tamper with the voting system and delaying the final results of a presidential election in Ukraine in 2014 that followed the ouster of a pro-Russian leader.

"In the cyber age, authoritarian states possess ways of undermining free societies that dictators of earlier times would have envied," Hunt also alleged, adding: "Recent events demonstrate that our adversaries regard democratic elections as a key vulnerability of an open society."

Such claims by Hunt comes despite the fact that Britain has itself been supporting and shipping arms to many of the world's most brutal dictators. Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf oil-rich Arab kingdoms stand as prime examples of dictatorships receiving military and political support from the UK to wage war on neighboring countries, suppressing domestic dissent and funding terrorism.

No clear action plan by NATO

Stoltenberg and Hunt refused to state what steps might be taken by NATO, which Russia continues to regard as a top national security threat even after the conclusion of the Cold War.

"We need to balance clarity about our determination to act with constructive ambiguity about exactly what we would do in specific circumstances," Hunt further emphasized, pointing to the new EU sanctions regime as just one of the potential options.

Stoltenberg's visit to London came as part of his preparations for a NATO summit due to be held in the British capital on December 3-4.

The hostile anti-Russia remarks by Hunt was made as longstanding tensions between London and Moscow culminated in the poisoning last year of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal on British soil.

The UK continues to claim it has evidence that the poisoning was plotted by senior leaders in Moscow and carried out by members of Russia's military intelligence agency.

The Kremlin, however, remains adamant that Britain's case is inconclusive and politically motivated.

This is while Western allies still joined forces to expel nearly 150 Russian embassy staff from around the world as Moscow immediately reciprocated the move.

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