Russia's interference in U.S., European elections could be “act of war”: NATO commander

“We are effectively building and sustaining military capability so that we never have to use it.”

Bradshaw’s comments come against the backdrop of growing calls in the United States for a thorough investigations of the Russian government’s broad campaign to secure the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president – and the nature and scope of contacts between several Trump’s surrogates and high-level campaign aides and operatives of the two Russian intelligence services – the FSB and the GRU. These two organizations were behind the hacking campaign against the computer systems of the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The unanimous conclusion of the seventeen agencies making up the U.S. intelligence community was that “We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election,” in the words of a report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence

“Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency.

“We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”

A recent report by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said the “rise of fake news” emanating from Russia was a cause of growing concern, pointing to the role of state-owned outlets Russia Today and Sputnik in spreading Russian propaganda and fake news masquerading as journalism.

European intelligence agencies have said that Russia’s success in helping elect Trump to the presidency of the United States has emboldened Moscow to replicated in Europe the methods it used in its interference in the U.S. presidential campaign. European security services have already seen signs of Russia’s hacking and disinformation campaign aiming to help far-right, ethno-nationalist, and populist politicians win the coming elections in France, the Netherlands, and Germany.

As is the case with Trump, these politicians – Marine Le Pen and the National Front in France, the AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) in Germany, and Geert Wilders and his Party of Freedom in the Netherlands – aim to weaken the West by undermining or dismantling the two central pillars of Western post-Second World War security and prosperity – the system of military alliances, including NATO, and the liberal international economic order, including the EU and the WTO.

Not coincidentally, as is the case with Trump, the three European political movements being helped by Russia are openly pro-Russian and critical of Western economic and political sanctions taken to punish Russia for its actions in Crimea and Ukraine.