Article 5 of the 1949 Washington Treaty established the principle of collective defense in the case of an attack against one of the allies, which would then be considered an attack on all signatories. The text, however, did not anticipate a cyber attack at the time.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview released on Monday that the bloc could invoke Article 5 on collective defense in the event of a cyber attack by Russia.
“We will never be specific [about] when we will turn to Article 5,” Stoltenberg told Axios news portal, responding to strategies for a possible cyber attack in Russia. Stoltenberg added that the alliance was boosting its cyber security and planned to develop cybernetic offensive capabilities.
In July, the Alliance had already confirmed in a statement after the summit in Brussels that, in the case of a hybrid war, the bloc would step up its Article 5 on collective defense. Meanwhile, US and British troops participated on Sunday in NATO maneuvers on the border between Poland and Lithuania.
Hybrid war refers to the use of combined civilian and ‘volunteer’ and mercenary combatants in an armed conflict which may include regular state-sanctioned army forces, whether war is declared or undeclared. It also refers to the use of virtual spaces, the internet, and cyber attacks. It is a feature within 4GW or Fourth Generation Warfare.
The Reuters reports that the training in the so – zone called Suwalki Gap, a Belarusian corridor between Lithuania and Poland, through which, according to NATO, in theory Russia could connect to the Kaliningrad enclave, attended 1,500 Lithuania, Polish and Croatian soldiers. In the course of the maneuvers, the script was written according to which “Russia can try to separate the Baltic countries from the Western alliance”.
“Of course the attack may not necessarily happen, but if the corridor is blocked, three allies in the north will be isolated from the Alliance,” said US military commander in Europe, Lieutenant General Ben Hodges.
“I think it’s important for soldiers to train on the ground that they will probably have to defend,” said Major-General John Gronski, the deputy commander of US troops in Europe.
In recent years NATO is concentrating forces near Russian borders under the pretext of alleged “Russian aggression.” Moscow has repeatedly stated that this behavior is absurd and that Russia would never attack one of the Alliance countries. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says NATO uses the pretext to put more arms and troops on the border with Russia.