Former SRI chief George Maior warns the West about Russia and cyber-attacks, says a new EU and NATO security strategy is needed


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Russia’s silent war against the west – this is the title of his article published on a Financial Times blog on April 15.
“The ability of Russian hackers to successfully access the State Department and White House computer networks should serve as a wake-up call. The US and its NATO allies must respond by developing a more effective tool kit for dealing with this threat,” Maior wrote.
Across Europe and the Euro-Atlantic area, Russia’s intelligence offensive is being conducted with increasing determination and sophistication. This is a smart and modern war that goes well beyond the traditional intelligence requirements of “need to know” concerning the intentions of enemy countries, which in President Vladimir Putin’s mind includes any country opposed to his expansionist ambitions. It draws on a Russian intelligence tradition that stretches back to the Tsarist era and includes techniques of political warfare in addition to regular intelligence gathering, the article further reads.
“Despite the numerous attacks against the US and Europe, Russia’s primary targets remain those closest to its borders. Putin’s strategy in this regard is obvious: to undermine and destabilise the democratically elected governments of Russia’s neighbours in order to gain political, economic and strategic influence within them. By generating domestic support for Russia’s policies through political and cultural elites as well as the media, Putin hopes to rebuild a European sphere of influence and exert control over decisions of strategic importance for Russia,” the former SRI head underlines.
His conclusions: “It is time for Europe and NATO to take firmer action. A robust and coherent response to Russia’s silent war is needed to counter and neutralise Russia’s intelligence activities within their member states. This requires more political will, but also more resources and more effective instruments – including adequate legal tools that protect Europe’s security and freedoms. The Romanian Intelligence Service already plays an active role in countering this threat, helping regional allies such as Ukraine to upgrade their cyber-defence capabilities and monitoring Russian intelligence agencies’ infiltration of vital sectors. But much more needs to be done collectively within the EU and NATO.”

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