Nato urged to 'deal with risk' amid warning over Russia's use of cyber warfare
Nato must step up its defences against Russia's aggressive use of cyber warfare and political disinformation, Britain's most senior alliance commander has warned.
General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, the deputy supreme allied commander, said President Vladimir Putin could seek to replicate the unconventional tactics used to destabilise Crimea before its annexation by Moscow in 2014.
The danger, he said, was that the Kremlin would create a situation where it believed it could use its military power to "finalise the deal".
While the risk of a slide into military confrontation between Nato and Russia was small, the consequences if it happened would be "catastrophic".
"The concern is that by a combination of means Russia gets themselves in a position where they see an opportunity to employ the military arm of power and that could be incredibly dangerous," Gen Bradshaw told the BBC.
"We have seen it in Crimea - a combination of unconventional military and non-military means including cyber warfare, political agitation, economic leverage - where military forces then closed in to finalise the deal.
"The risk of a slide into a military confrontation with Russia is small - very small - but because the consequences would be catastrophic we have absolutely got to deal with that risk."
Gen Bradshaw's comments echo a recent warning by Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon that Russia was "weaponising misinformation" in a sustained campaign of destabilisation against the West.
In a speech last month, he accused Moscow of using cyber weaponry to "disrupt critical infrastructure and disable democratic machinery" in a series of attacks on western countries.