UK defence secretary alleges Moscow of weaponising misinformation to disable democratic machinery
Nato must begin to compete on the cyber-battlefield to bar Russian hacking is targeted at undermining republic in the US and western Europe, the British defence secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, has said.
In his most hard-hitting comments hitherto about Russia, he accused it of targeting the US, France, Germany, Holland, Bulgaria and Montenegro, which is due to become a full Nato member this year.
Fallon blamed Russia for helping develop the age of phony message. Today we ensure a number of countries that, in weaponising misinformation, has created what we might now see as the post-truth age. Segment of that is the use of cyber-weaponry to interrupt critical infrastructure and disable democratic system, he said.
His anti-Russian rhetoric compares with that of the US president, Donald Trump, who, in a displacement from his predecessor, Barack Obama, appears to be moving towards reconciliation with Moscow and has described Nato as obsolete.
Fallon, in a communication at St Andrews University, one of the most important centres for Russian contemplates in the UK, tried to square Trumps seemingly contradictory observes. President Trump has spoken about the is necessary to participation with Russia. Hes right. Great societies like the US and Russia will talk. Certainly, they must talk to preserve the rules-based information arrangement underpinning our security and prosperity. The UK more needs to engage with Russia, including armed to military.
Yet president Trump is a realist. He knows engagement is an equation of danger versus honor, with the outcome decided by a societies deeds , not its words.
In another attempt to square Trumps apparently conflicting judgments, Fallon insisted Trump was 100 per cent backing Nato, as the “ministers “, Theresa May, read after meeting him in Washington, and that the presidents grievance was over the failure of most Nato members to contribute a higher share towards defence costs.
The chairman of the Commons defence committee, Conservative MP Julian Lewis, in a speech a fortnight ago was less sanguine than Fallon and described Trumps comments that the US might abandon Nato as radical and reckless.
Fallon said there had been a significant step-change by Russia last year that raised an increased number of cyber-attacks. He read: Russia is clearly researching Nato and the west. It is seeking to expand its sphere of influence, destabilise countries, and weaken the alliance. It is undermining national defence for numerous allies and the international rules-based system.
Therefore, it is in our interest and Europes to preserve Nato strong and to deter and dissuade Russia from this course.
Although Fallon applied his speech to portray the Kremlin as the attacker to its implementation of hacking, Americas National Security Agency and the UKs GCHQ both are actively engaged in hacking targets in Russia on a regular basis.
Fallon too accused the Russian authority of routinely lying. There is a special Russian statement for this. Not maskirovka , the old cheat perpetrated by its intelligence agencies, but vranyo , where the listener knows the speaker is lying and the speaker knows the listener knows he is lying but hinders lying anyway.
In spite of Fallons claim that Trump is 100% behind Nato, there is no such certainty among senior officials at the UK Ministry of Defence and among their equivalents abroad around Europe. They are waiting for the first call to Europe by the brand-new US defence secretary, James Mattis, to Europe in a fortnight to both the Nato headquarters and the Munich security council in the hope of clarification.
Previous US presidents and defence secretaries are systematically announced on Nato members to raise defence spending to at least 2% of GDP but, unlike Trump, they have always mixed it with self-confidences that Nato organizes the bedrock of US and west European defence programme.
Fallon said that 19 of Natos 28 members do not even invest 1.5% on defence. Exclusively five Nato members fulfilled the 2% deadline, including the UK, though the UK simply through imaginative accounting.
So President Trump is claim to objection Nato to conjure its play, Fallon read. That represents not five but all members matching the 2% commitment. It represents substantiating improve to realize Nato more agile, resilient, and better configured to be employed in the contemporary medium including against hybrid and cyber-attacks.
There were areas where the the west could and does co-operate with Russia, Fallon relinquished. But he went on to say: Above all, we must not accept as any sort of brand-new ordinary Russias propaganda, whether overt or covert, its easy-going indifference for hard facts and quantities, or its flagrant twistings and evasions.
Fallon read Russia, having opted to become a tactical contestant to the west, could not expect business as usual.
Part of our response is for Nato and the west to do more to tackle the spurious reality thus promoting Soviet-style misinformation. Whatever else we do on deterrence and talk, we must bar Putins Pravda with faster truth . … We need to call out messengers such as RT[ the Russia Today television station ].
As Fallon was preparing to deliver his speech, which too praised the imposition of sanctions on Russia by the US and Europe, the US Treasury announcement by a statement it was adjusting sanctions imposed last year by Obama on the Russian intelligence agency the FSB.
The sanctions were imposed in response to US intelligence am of the view that the FSB was behind the hacking of the Democratic party to try to influence the US presidential election. The Treasury, in its statement, said it would allow US companies to deal with the FSB in importing information technology.