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NATO cyber center, DHS probe Petya attack – FCW.com

Cybersecurity

The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence (CCD COE)believes a nation state is likely behind the Petya/NotPetya malware attack and is contemplating response options as a former Pentagon official takes over the alliance's tech and cyber office.

The Department of Homeland Security is also issuing warnings to infrastructure providers and operators of industrial control systems that their operations are at risk due to the dissemination of Petya and its variants.

The CCD COE, which is funded by NATO nations but is not part ofNATOs military command or force structure,released a statement on June 30, saying that accurate attribution is difficult to come by, but that cyber criminals were not behind the Petya attack.

"NotPetya was probably launched by a state actor or a non-state actor with support or approval from a state," stated the center, which is based in Tallinn, Estonia. "Other options are unlikely."

The center said that while a cyber operation with effects similar to an armed attack could trigger an Article 5 military response, so far -- despite the significant impact of the NotPetya attack -- there is no evidence of damage akin to a kinetic strike.

"As important government systems have been targeted, then in case the operation is attributed to a state this could count as a violation of sovereignty," said Tom Minrik, a researcher at the center's Law Branch, in the statement. "Consequently, this could be an internationally wrongful act, which might give the targeted states several options to respond with countermeasures."

The statement argues that NotPetya was more targeted than the WannaCry attack that used the same primary vulnerability -- EternalBlue, which was allegedly stolen from the National Security Agency and leaked in April 2017.

The center said that NotPetya was carried out by a different entity than the WannaCry ransomware attack, and that Petya's ransomware aspect was a cover for a more targeted operation, such as "causing economic losses, sowing chaos, or perhaps testing attack capabilities or showing own power."

"Malware analysissupports the theory that main purpose of the malware was to be destructive because key used for encrypting the hard disk was discarded," the NATO CCD COE stated.

In the wake of the Petya attacks that plagued banks, the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team warned U.S. infrastructure providers the attack could presage something more ominous.

ICS-CERT's Petya alert, posted on June 30 and updated July 3, warned that the malware had a variant that could be aimed at damaging networks and might not be seeking money. Petya, said the alert, has been known by ICS-CERT as a possible attack vector since 2016.

The new "Nyetya" variant, said a crosslink on CERT's page by Cisco's Talos Intelligence blog, was written by someone looking only to wipe data from disks and not restore it, even if ransom is paid.

"Talos believes that the actors behind Nyetya did not [intend] for the boot sector or the ten sectors that are wiped to be restorable," said the blog. "Thus, Nyetya is intended to be destructive rather than as a tool for financial gain."

Nyetya, said the ICS-CERT, is a new addition to the Petya malware, which keyed on a supply chain attack on a Ukrainian tax preparation software MEDoc.

Ukrainian police seized additional M.E. Doc servers after detecting new suspicious activity as the firm was preparing to release another update. Given the number of cyber attacks against Ukraine that have been attributed to Russia in recent years, officials in Ukraine are accusing Russia of launching this latest attack.

The ongoing investigations into Petya come as Kevin Scheid is taking the reins at NATO's Communications and Information Agency -- which is similar in nature and responsibility to the Pentagon's Defense Information Systems Agency.

Scheid's lengthy resume includes stints at OMB and the CIA, and as DOD's deputy comptroller and acting deputy chief management officer. From 2009-2013 he served as NATO's deputy general manager and director of acquisition of NATO NCI.

Scheid said in an interview with NATO public affairs that his first steps will be a series of deep dives into "areas of finance and the customer-funded regime, personnel management and the contract issues and how that is progressing, in acquisition, as well as the management of the organization."

Scheid served as deputy comptroller at the Pentagon while the U.S. was spending some $700 billion a year on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he will now be looking to squeeze the most he can out of NCI's one-billion Euro budget.

NATO is planning to spend three billion Euros on network modernization, mobility, authentication, cloud and weapon-systems software programs and upgrades in the next two years.

"The NATO Nations are careful with the money they invest in these projects, so every Euro is important," he said. "I think it's one of the big challenges in this job."

Note: This article was corrected on July 5 to make clear that theNATOCooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence is not part of NATO proper.

About the Authors

Sean Carberry is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence. Prior to joining FCW, he was Kabul Correspondent for NPR, and also served as an international producer for NPR covering the war in Libya and the Arab Spring. He has reported from more than two-dozen countries including Iraq, Yemen, DRC, and South Sudan. In addition to numerous public radio programs, he has reported for Reuters, PBS NewsHour, The Diplomat, and The Atlantic.

Carberry earned a Master of Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School, and has a B.A. in Urban Studies from Lehigh University.

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.

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NATO cyber center, DHS probe Petya attack - FCW.com

Russia Is Expanding Its Military, but NATO Isn’t Sure Why – Newsweek

Russias military capabilities are expanding across Europe, but the top military chief of Western defense pact NATO has said Moscows plans remain ambiguous amid a heavily politicized atmosphere between the two leading forces.

General Petr Pavel, a Czech army officer who holds the position of chairman of NATOs Military Committee, said Monday that Russia was advancing in its nuclear and ballistic capabilities as well as in its capacity to send troops across the region, where Moscow and U.S.-led NATO are competing for influence. The two factions have accused one another of crossing lines both figuratively and literally, by effectively launching an arms race, especially along the increasingly militarized borders of the Baltic States. Amid these dueling accusations, however, Pavel said that NATO could not conclusively consider Russias military buildup in recentyears an act of aggression against NATO and its Western allies.

Related: Russian military uses new war weapon to fight ISIS in Syria

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When it comes to capability, there is no doubt that Russia is developing their capabilities both in conventional and nuclear components, Pavel told Politico. When it comes to exercises, their ability to deploy troops forlong distance and to use them effectively quite far away from their own territory, there are no doubts.

When it comes to intent, its not so clear, because we cannot clearly say that Russia has aggressive intents againstNATO,he added.

Russian servicemen march in the Chechen capital of Grozny, Russia, during the Victory Day military parade, marking the 72nd anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, May 9, 2017. Like NATO, Russia has expanded its military presence in Europe, where some nations accuse Moscow of increasingly aggressive behavior. Said Tsarnayev/Reuters

NATO and Russia have pursued clashing agendas in recent years, especially since Russia annexed theCrimean Peninsula amid political unrest in Ukraine in 2014. Russia argued that the move was necessary to protect the sizable ethnic Russian community, but NATO viewed the action, as well as Moscows support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, as an unacceptable breach of its neighbors sovereignty. The fallout led to the eventual creation of four so-called battle groups in the three Baltic States and Poland, all of which have received extensive personnel and armaments from the U.S., Canada and their European allies.

Russia has also fortified its side of the border, which includes the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad. Last year, Moscow moved nuclear-capable missiles along with other military assets to the coastal territory, which lies between Lithuania and Poland. Both sides of the conflict have also separately held a number of drills in the strategic region. Russias latest drill includes China,and anupcoming exercise with Belarus called Zapad, or West, will utilize up to 100,000 troops in a simulated NATO invasion from the Baltics. Defense Secretary James Mattis echoed local allied leaders in calling the massive maneuvers destabilizing.

While Russias moves have been decried by NATO and its regional partners, Pavel maintains that such a military expansion could not alone be considered an act of war. Russia has long argued that its decision to upgrade and increase its arsenal was taken in defense of what it believes to be an aggressive posturing by the U.S., which has deployed military installations on both sides of Russia, including asophisticated global anti-missile system. Despite Russias 5.9 percent increase in military spending, which totaled $69.2 billion last year, NATOs collective $254 billionwithout the U.S. and Canadastill wildly exceeds Moscows budget, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

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Russia Is Expanding Its Military, but NATO Isn't Sure Why - Newsweek

What has become of the prescient post-WWII dictum ‘Russians out, Americans in, Germans down’? – National Review

The accomplished and insightful British general Hasting Ismay is remembered today largely because of his famous assessment of NATO, offered when he was the alliances first secretary general. The purpose of the new treaty organization founded in 1952, Ismay asserted, was to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.

Ismay formulated that aphorism at the height of a new Cold War. The Soviet Red Army threatened to overrun Western Europe all the way to the English Channel. And few knew who or what exactly could stop it.

A traditionally isolationist United States was still debatingits proper role after once again intervening on the winning side in a distant catastrophic European war only to see its most powerful ally of WWII, Joseph Stalins Soviet Union, become the victorious democracies most dangerous post-war foe.

A divided Germany had become the new trip wire of the free world against a continental and monolithic nuclear Soviet Union and its bloc.

Nonetheless, note carefully what Ismay did not say.

He did not refer to keeping the Soviet Union out of the Western alliance (which the Soviets had once desired to join, a request that Ismay compared to inviting a burglar onto the police force).

Ismay did not cite the need to ensure that Nazi Germany never returned.

He did not insist that the inclusion of Great Britain was essential to NATOs tripartite mission.

Why?

Ismay, a favorite of Churchills and a military adviser to British governments, had a remarkable sense of history namely that constants such as historical memory, geography, and national character always transcend the politics of the day.

Russians from the days of the czars have wanted to extend their western influence into Europe. Russia was often a threat, given its large population and territory and rich natural resources and it was also more autocratic and more volatile than many of its vulnerable European neighbors.

If alive today, Ismay might remind us that were there not a Vladimir Putin posing a threat to NATOs vulnerable Eastern European members, he might have to be invented.

Ismay instinctively sensed that what made the Soviet Union dangerous in the mid 1950s was not just Stalinism and the Communist system per se, or even its possession of nuclear weapons, but rather the resources of Russia and its historical tendency to embrace anti-democratic absolutism, whether left or right.

With that same insight, Ismay understood that a Europe caught between Germany and Russia would always need a powerful outside ally, one with resources and manpower well beyond those of Great Britain. Further, he accepted that Americans, protected by two oceans, 3,000 miles distant from Europe, and nursed on warnings about pernicious entangling alliances from their Founding Fathers, would always experience periods of nostalgia when it longed to return to its republican America-first roots.

Again, if the movement that helped propel Donald Trump to the White House had not existed, it would have to have been manufactured. Todays Americans are peeved about rich European members shorting NATO of their mandatory contributions. They do not appreciate often dependent European nations ankle-biting the U.S. as a supposedly illiberal imperial power, when that power has long subsidized the defense needs of the shaky European Union socialist experiment.

Ismay apparently sensed that an engaged America would always be a hard sell, especially in the new nuclear age, given that, for less cosmopolitan Americans far from the eastern seaboard, Europe seems a distant perennial headache. For them, it might appear much easier to write off Europe as hopelessly fractious and thus not deserving of yet another bailout requiring American blood and treasure. If the U.S. came late into both World War I and II, it was because of the same sort of weariness with European internecine quarreling, albeit now in a milder form, that we currently see fracturing the EU.

Lastly in his triad of advice, Ismay referred generically to Germany without specifying a contemporary friendly and allied West Germany, juxtaposed to the Soviet-inspired, Communist, and hostile East Germany. Again, the EastWest German fault line existed in Ismays time; yet he reduced all those unique differences of his age into a generic Germany down.

Ismay wrote an engaging wartime memoir from which we can extract much of his thought and experience, so we need not put words into his mouth. But nonetheless, insightful men of his generation did not necessarily look at the rise of National Socialism as entirely a historical aberration, or, in contrast, as a generic murderous ideology that just as easily might have captured the hearts and minds of Frenchmen or British subjects. That historical angst is why both Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev were apprehensive about the idea of German unification in 1989.

Ismay apparently remembered the Franco-Prussian war of 187071, and the horrors of the First and Second World Wars. He concluded that the common denominator was Germanys strong desire to recover from its historical hurt in predictable bouts of aggression and national chauvinism and backed by considerable skill and power.

In Ismays time, such aggression was different from lesser Fascist movements in Italy and Spain, largely because of the central geographic position of a unified young German nation-state, its sizable population, its national wealth, and what we reluctantly in todays politically correct landscape might call German character. That stereotype originates from the time of Caesar and Tacitus: the ability of the German people to create economic, military, and cultural influence well beyond what one might expect from the actual size of even an impressive German population or geography. And such dynamism is often expressed by eyeing neighbors spiritual or concrete territory.

Once again, if there were not Angela Merkels increasingly defiant Germany, it too would have to be created. Some in the United States were troubled that Angela Merkel, from a beer hall in Munich no less, recently lashed out at the United States and promised that Germany might just have to navigate between the U.S. and Russia quite a thought from a Germany once saved largely by the United States from its own carnivorousness and later likely Communist servitude.

Of course, what is disconcerting today about Germany is not the rise of totalitarian or nationalist movements, at least not as we usually use those terms. Indeed, in most respects, post-war Germany has been a model democracy. But there is a common denominator in Germanys most recent controversies, with disturbing historical roots that might further amplify the logic of Ismays prescient Germany down. Germany might be pursuing a Eurocentric agenda, it might proudly declare itself an open-borders host for millions of impoverished immigrants, it might be at the vanguard of green energy, but it is doing all that in ways of Lord Ismays Germany of old.

The central bank of Germany de facto controls European finances. It uses the euro as a weaker currency than would otherwise be true of the Deutsche Mark to conduct a mercantile export economy, providing credit to weaker European economies to buy Germans goods that they otherwise could ill afford. The impoverished southern Mediterranean economies are essentially in hock now to Germany, and Germany apparently can neither be paid back its original loans nor write off the debts. In other words, German won all the chips of the European Union poker game and it no longer need play with its broke rivals.

No one quite knows the strange driving force behind Angela Merkels demand that the European Union open its borders to millions of mostly young men from the war-torn Middle East and the chaotic lands of North Africa. Cynics might suggest that a shrinking Germany wants young, cheap manual laborers. Post-war guilt may play a role as Germanys cure for its past becomes nearly as obsessive as the behavior that led to the disease in the first place.

German postmodern multiculturalism encourages a nave acceptance of millions of unassimilated Middle Eastern Muslims, and it demands the same from neighbors without Germanys resources. A largely atheistic or agnostic Germany also has few religious worries about Islamic immigrants, given that secular affluence and leisure long ago proved far more deleterious to German Christianity than did radical Islam.

Germany saw Brexit as an intolerable affront to its own leadership. Apparently the British voter saw the increasingly non-democratic trajectory of the European Union as a future challenge to its own independence. If southern Europeans are becoming serfs to Germany, and Eastern Europeans its clients, and Western Europeans anxious subordinates, then the British across the channel thought they had to get out while the getting was good.

Recent Pew international polls reveal that Germany of all the countries of the European Union is by far the most anti-American, with scarcely 52 percent expressing a positive appraisal of the United States well before Donald Trump ran for office. Media polls show that the German press ran the most negative appraisals of Trump of all global news (98 percent of all coverage was critical). A fair summary of current German views of the United States would be not much different from the stereotypes of the 1930s: undisciplined, prone to wild swings in policy, a bastardized and commercialized culture of poorly informed and highly indebted consumers.

Ismays generation welcomed the re-creation of Germany as a positive democratic force both in the soon-to-be-created European Common Market and the nascent NATO alliance. But it did not discard Ismays idea of Germany down. Instead, there was a wink-and-nod acceptance that a divided Germany was a safe Germany. NATO and the common Soviet threat would encourage ties of solidarity. And just in case they did not, weaker and smaller traditional rivals, France and Great Britain, would possess nuclear weapons and stronger and far larger Germany would not.

What would Ismay say of his current tripartite formula?

He would warn about what happens when NATO withers on the vine: Russian is a bit in, America is somewhat out, and Germany more up than down as Ismay feared when he helped offer the remedy of NATO at its creation.

READ MORE: The Price of American First How Trump Should Reform NATO Its Long Past Time for Our NATO Allies to Meet Their Defense-Spending Commitments

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, to appear in October from Basic Books.

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What has become of the prescient post-WWII dictum 'Russians out, Americans in, Germans down'? - National Review

Russia Sent 2500 Troops to Its Border Near Latvia and Estonia Amid Fears of Conflict and Annexation – Newsweek

Russia has called 2,500 troops to an airborne military drill in its Pskov region, bordering NATO allies Latvia and Estonia, state news agency Itar-Tass reported on Wednesday.The drill will involve 40 aircraft, with airborne troopspracticinglanding in unfamiliar lands. The exercises were described as counterrorist drills.

Concern has been mounting for years among some European officials over whetherRussia could strike the Balticsfollowing its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. The sizeable exercise of Russias elite paratrooper division (VDV) is set to take place off the town of Kislovo, less than 50km from Russias border with Estonia, around the base of the very unit that reportedly endured heavy losses in Ukraine in 2014. The disappearance of the Pskov soldiers, reported killed, was one of the first high-profile pieces of evidence that Russian forces had entered Ukraine.

Read More: Russian nuclear submarine fires cruise missile in Arctic Barents Sea

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Concern about a possible war in the Baltics is high, with majorities in Lithuania and Latvia namingarmed conflict as a prime concern and all three fearing the likelihood of war more than that of extremist attacks, according to various polls.Russia has formally denied it would ever attack a member of NATO, which all three nations of the Baltics are.

But the promises of Moscow diplomats have done little to assuage worries in the former Soviet Unionstates, largely because of Russias interpretation of events in Ukraine. Russia initially insisted its troops were not participants in the Crimean annexation and continues to deny that it has a military presence in eastern Ukraine.

Russian military experts have warned that deploying staff involved in events in Ukraine to territory near the Baltic may be a deliberate, implicit scare tactic by Moscow, rather than a genuine intention to attack the Baltics.

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are among the biggest beneficiaries of NATOs updated eastern strategy as three battalions are set to rotate between them. Besides NATO support, citizens and officialsin Latvia and Lithuania have backed an idea less fondly thought of among many of their allies:aEuropean armed force.

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Russia Sent 2500 Troops to Its Border Near Latvia and Estonia Amid Fears of Conflict and Annexation - Newsweek

US Troops Reassure Allies in Poland Ahead of Trump’s G-20 Visit – NBCNews.com

U.S. Army soldiers move an armored Stryker vehicle into position during live-fire training. Carlo Angerer / NBC News

Reliant on American support and fearful of Russian influence, European leaders will be closely watching

"The stakes are pretty high for Europe in terms of how that meeting turns out," said Susi Dennison, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. "For Europe, how the personal meeting goes between these two is going to be pretty crucial."

European leaders are also unsure whose word actually represents U.S. policy, according to Matthew Harries, a research fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a British research institute.

Establishment figures in his team, such as Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster, have been far more clear than their boss in supporting NATO's allies across the pond.

Related:

In May, after Trump failed to endorse Article 5 during a speech at NATO's headquarters in Brussels, McMaster, told journalists later that "of course" the president backed the principle of collective defense.

One r

"Nobody's entirely sure who speaks for the U.S. and whether what the president says is official policy, which is very unusual," said Matthew Harries, a research fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a British research institute.

"European leaders are perfectly happy with Mattis but their problem is with Trump," Harries added. "Does the president speak for the U.S. or does the defense secretary? If it's Mattis then Europe will be happy. If it's Trump then they won't."

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US Troops Reassure Allies in Poland Ahead of Trump's G-20 Visit - NBCNews.com

NATO military head warns Russia threat is growing – The Hill (blog)

The topmilitary officer of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) said Monday the alliance was working on multiple fronts to thwart Russian efforts toelevate its military power.

General Petr Pavel, chairman of the NATO Military Committee, told Politico's Brussels Playbook that it is unclear what the Kremlin's intentions are, but theirsteps to increase military prowessis clear.

When it comes to capability there is no doubt that Russia is developing their capabilities both in conventional and nuclear components. When it comes to exercises, their ability to deploy troops forlong distance and to use them effectively quite far away from their own territory, there are no doubts,Pavel toldthe newspaperduring a breakfast event.

When it comes to intent, its not so clear because we cannot clearly say that Russia has aggressive intents againstNATO,he added.

The general said the allies must be prepared to confront "any potential threat that would mirror the situationwe know from Crimea, from eastern Ukraine," adding that they would not stand for such actions to be"repeated against any NATO ally.

"We face a huge modernization of all Russia military, Pavel told the newspaper.

The general said the organization cannot fully focus on one threatening state. He said the alliance is working to vamp up its counter-terrorism efforts.

NATO defense officialsare expectedto meet later this week in Brussels.

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NATO military head warns Russia threat is growing - The Hill (blog)

Russia and Europe: Donald Trump Will Feel at Home in Poland But Faces Questions Over NATO – Newsweek

When Donald Trump touches down in Poland on Thursday, hell get a better welcome than he would in many European capitals. Unlike Frances centrist President Emmanuel Macron or Germanys cautious Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Polish government is from the hard right. Like Trump, the ruling Law and Justice party is wary of refugees, the mediaand social liberalism.

But however sympathetic another leader is, they always want something from the president of the United States. And in this case, according to Polands foreign minister, they want protection against another country Trump is planning to meet with this week:Russia.

Foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski told reporters on Monday he would be seeking assurances that the U.S. and NATO troops currently in the country would remain as long as Russia was a threat. "We would like to hear that as long as the threat continues we will be supported by the U.S. and NATO troops," Waszczykowski said.

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Poland shares a border with Russia, marking a crucial frontline in the escalating tension between Europe and the vast country to its east. In April, a NATO battalion arrived in the country, marking the start of a stepping up of the alliances troops there, consisting of more than 1,100 soldiers with 900 from the U.S., 150 from the U.K. and 120 from Romania.

"Generations of Polish people have waited for this moment since the end of the Second World War, dreaming about Poland's return to membership in the just, solidary, democratic and truly free West," Polish President Andrzej Duda said at the time.

But in Poland there has beenconcern over the level of Trumps commitment to NATOs Article five, which states that other members will defend a member who is attacked. Trump has previously called the alliance obsolete (though he later backtracked), and in a May speech at a NATO summit he failed to explicitly endorse the collective defense principle. In June, after much criticism, he finally committed to the clause in a speech after meeting Romania's president. Countries in the east ofEuropewho would find themselves in the immediate firing line of any Russian aggression were particularly keen to gain confirmation thatthe U.S. would immediately respond.

For Trump, endorsing NATOin Poland may be politically easier than strongly backing the alliance as a whole. Unlike many members, the country meets NATOs minimum defense spending goalof 2 percent of GDP; that means Trump could choose to hold it up as a good example, since one of his main foreign policy priorities has been encouraging Americas allies to pump more money into their own security. That, of course, might annoy other allies: Poland is locked in several battles with Brussels, and Trump taking Poland's side over other European nations would send a controversial signal.

Defense policy is likely to resurface throughout Trumps schedule in Europe, which ends with a visit to France for the July 14 Bastille Day celebrations where hell discuss security with Emmanuel Macron, and includes Trumps first meeting with Vladimir Putin. What note he strikes on Thursday will help to set the tone.

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Russia and Europe: Donald Trump Will Feel at Home in Poland But Faces Questions Over NATO - Newsweek

Trump’s America Isn’t Any More Independent Than Obama’s – Fortune

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, (front left to right) NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, US President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Theresa May and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) summit on May 25, 2017 in Brussels, Belgium.Stefan Rousseau/Pool/Getty Images

When President Donald Trump took office, many expected him to usher in a new "independent" U.S. foreign policy, breaking the bridges forged by President Obama to multi-national organizations and significantly shifting the direction of American statecraft.

That hasnt happened.

This Independence Day, hardly anyone argues anymore that the new administration is seeking independence from international institutions or binding treaties. Indeed, the U.S. has been forward-leaning on the global stagereassuring NATO; broadly engaging in the Middle East; laying out new initiatives in Latin America; renegotiating, not scrapping NAFTA; talking tough on North Korea; sparring with China; embracing India; and redoubling efforts in Afghanistan.

Critics now complain that Trump is decoupling the U.S. from the post-World War II liberal order, the network of international institutions that fostered globalization. At least philosophically, there is no question that Trump and Obama come at foreign policy from opposite perspectives. Obama was a structuralist who believed that the keys to peace and prosperity are global institutions that normalize the behavior of states. Trump, on the other hand, is a realist. The sitting president holds that nation-states are the coin of the realm, the real power in the global order.

But in practice, the kid from Chicago and businessman from the Big Apple are less far apart than their rhetoric suggests.

For starters, the Constitution still binds the left and right. It still limits what presidents can do overseas, both through specified and imposed powers given to the executive branch, and the separation of powers that gives both the courts and Congress some say in what America does in the world.

In addition, regardless of their politics, presidents get elected to protect the nations interests. Those interests don't change dramatically unless the world dramatically changes. Thats why U.S. foreign policy always has more continuity than change from one administration to the next.

Further, presidents are hardly purists. Obama had a predilection for multi-nationalism, but he was perfectly willing to go his own way when he thought it suited U.S. policy. Likewise, Trump has no prohibitions against a multi-national approach. U.S. commitment to NATO is as strong as ever. Rather than pulling out of the United Nations, the U.S. has been proactive in its leadership role. Trump went to the G7, and hes going to the G20 and ASEAN summit.

There are still distinct differences between Trump and Obama. Some are mostly stylistic. The Paris climate accord is a case in point. Obama committed to it because it fit his politics, not because it really moved the ball on dealing with climate change. Trump pulled out because he didn't care about a symbolic commitment. Neither president's choice tells us much about the real exercise of American power in the world.

Other differences are more substantive. Obama's instinct was to make a deal and then use the deal and multi-national instruments to normalize the behavior of adversarial states. That was the plan with the Russian reset and New START treaty, chemical weapons accord with Assad, and Iran nuclear deal. Trump's instincts are to take action where there is a clear deliverable to U.S. interests on the front end, not trust the global order to tutor good behavior on the backside.

However, to portray these differences of statecraft as moving from interdependence to independencean unmooring of the U.S. from the liberal world orderis a profound oversimplification. In practice, Trump will be seen using different approaches to solving America and the world's problemssometimes acting unilaterally, but mostly working with friends and allies, and often through multi-national institutions.

Trump will certainly in the end have different policies. He may in the end produce different outcomes. But, in the final judgment, it may be far more difficult to differentiate between interdependent and independent foreign policies than the current raging controversy over Trumps international leadership suggests.

James Jay Carafano is vice president of the Heritage Foundation and directs the think tanks research on foreign relations and national security issues.

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Trump's America Isn't Any More Independent Than Obama's - Fortune

‘State actor’ behind NotPetya cyberattack, expect ‘countermeasures’ NATO experts – RT

Published time: 4 Jul, 2017 14:26

NATO officials have warned that last weeks global cyberattack could result in international retaliation.

The so-called NotPetya attack hit Ukrainian government systems, as well as networks in 64 other countries, causing an unprecedented scale of disruption.

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NATO now argues the cyber ambush violated Ukraines sovereignty and countermeasures could be expected, including sabotage.

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said cyber operations against a NATO member state could trigger Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, demanding a collective military response. Ukraine is not a member of the bloc.

Kiev has since pointed the finger at Russia for the attack, while NATO said it could most likely be attributed to a state actor.

A countermeasure could be, for example, a cyber operation sabotaging the offending states government IT systems, but it does not necessarily have to be conducted by cyber means, NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence researcher Tomas Minarik said in a statement this week.

If the operation could be linked to an ongoing international armed conflict, then law of armed conflict would apply, at least to the extent that injury or physical damage was caused by it, and with respect to possible direct participation in hostilities by civilian hackers, he added.

But so far there are reports of neither.

A report from NATO showed that although the attack had cost billions of dollars to the Ukrainian state, the damage was not comparable to a military strike.

The attack follows the recent WannaCry strike on a series of computer systems in Britains hospitals. It was reported that North Korean hackers were likely behind the attack.

It seems likely that the more sophisticated and expensive NotPetya campaign is a declaration of power; a demonstration of acquired disruptive capability and readiness to use it, NATO cyber expert Lauri Lindstrom said.

Now the company blamed for allowing NotPetya to slip through the system is being threatened with criminal charges. Accounting software firm MeDoc had its main system hacked and used to send out malware to the attacks victims.

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'State actor' behind NotPetya cyberattack, expect 'countermeasures' NATO experts - RT

‘NotPetya’ malware attacks could warrant retaliation, says Nato researcher – The Guardian

While a cyberattack can trigger an armed response from Nato, Minrik cautioned that the damage caused by NotPetya in Ukraine and elsewhere was not sufficient for such an escalation. Photograph: Barbara Walton/EPA

The NotPetya malware that wiped computers at organisations including Maersk, Merck and the Ukrainian government in June could count as a violation of sovereignty, according to a legal researcher at Natos cybersecurity division.

If the malware outbreak was state-sponsored, the Nato researcher says, it could open the possiblity of countermeasures. Those could come through retaliatory cyber--attacks, or more conventional means such as sanctions, but they must fall short of a military use of force.

Tom Minrik, a researcher at the organisations Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn, Estonia, made the comments after the Centre concluded that the malware outbreak, which overwhelmingly hit Ukraine but also affected more than 60 other countries, can most likely be attributed to a state actor.

While a cyber-attack can trigger an armed response from Nato, Minrik cautioned that the damage caused by NotPetya was not sufficient for such an escalation. The law of armed conflict applies only if a cyber-attack causes damage with consequences comparable to an armed attack, during an ongoing international armed conflict, but so far there are reports of neither, he said.

However, Minrik, added, as important government systems have been targeted, then in case the operation is attributed to a state this could count as a violation of sovereignty. Consequently, this could be an internationally wrongful act, which might give the targeted states several options to respond with countermeasures.

A countermeasure is any state response which would be illegal in typical circumstances, but can be authorised as a reaction to an internationally wrongful act by another state. A hack back response, for instance, could be a countermeasure, but Nato says that such responses do not necessarily have to be conducted by cyber means; they cannot, however, affect third countries, nor can they amount to a use of force.

The suspicion that NotPetya so called because the malware is superficially similar to an earlier ransomware variant called Petya may be the work of a state sponsored actor arose shortly after the outbreak began in late June.

While the malware appears to be ransomware (a type of program which holds critical files hostage in exchange for payment), it contained several flaws that prevented it from ever being an effective moneymaker for its creators. Among other things, the payment infrastructure was tied to one email address outside their control, which was promptly blocked by the webmail provider, preventing victims form ever receiving their decryption key and unlocking their files.

But the malware, which was overwhelmingly seeded to victims through a compromised Ukrainian accounting program, did function well as a wiper, designed simply to render systems unusable and cause economic damage. It spread rapidly inside business networks, using a combination of exploits stolen from the NSA and more common weaknesses in older versions of Windows, ensuring that whole organisations found themselves unable to operate for days on end.

Unlike WannaCry, an earlier piece of ransomware also suspected of being the work of state-sponsored attackers (in that case, explicitly linked to North Korea by intelligence agencies including the NSA and GCHQ), NotPetya did not contain any functionality enabling it to spread unconstrained across the internet, limiting the vast majority of its damage to those organisations directly infected by the compromised accounting software.

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'NotPetya' malware attacks could warrant retaliation, says Nato researcher - The Guardian

US cyber warrior begins NATO job as Trump pressures alliance – Stars and Stripes


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US cyber warrior begins NATO job as Trump pressures alliance
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Kevin Scheid, a veteran of the U.S. Department of Defense, became head on July 1 of the NATO Communications and Information Agency, which runs the electronic networks of the 29-nation alliance. NCI Agency spends about $1.1 billion a year to ensure ...

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US cyber warrior begins NATO job as Trump pressures alliance - Stars and Stripes

NATO and Cyberwar: Will Britain Invoke Article 5? – American Spectator

On November 19, 1919, Congress rejected the Versailles Treaty ending World War I and with it the charter of the League of Nations which was a key part of it. Principal among the reasons for the treatys rejection was a provision that committed the United States, along with the other members of the League, to the mutual defense of any member that was attacked militarily. Because treaties are the supreme law of the land second only to the Constitution Congress refused to surrender its power to declare war.

Almost thirty years later, Congress ratified the NATO Treaty despite the fact that Article 5 of that treaty contains the same mutual defense commitment. By ratifying that treaty, Congress declared war pre-emptively against any nation or non-state actor that attacked a NATO member.

With the accession of tiny Montenegro militarily as capable as the Duchy of Grand Fenwick minus the Q bomb NATO now has 29 member nations the United States is committed to defend.

Since 1949, the only time Article 5 has been invoked was after the 9/11 attacks on America. NATO, or at least most of its members, has joined us in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some NATO troops remain in Afghanistan after nearly sixteen years of war.

The threats of war that were recognized in 1949 have evolved as much as war itself. Every NATO member, including the U.S., has ignored the need to adapt the NATO Treaty to the 21st century.

As we celebrate our independence from Britain, we need to remember that they are now one of our most important allies. What they say deserves our attention and thought.

Last week UK Defense Minister Sir Michael Fallon, speaking about the recent cyberattack on the UK Parliament, suggested that his nation might respond to future cyberattacks with airstrikes or other military action. The clear implication is that the UK might invoke Article 5 to obtain NATO support for such military action.

No one considered cyberattacks when the NATO Treaty was signed because computer technology was in its infancy. But that is not to say that Article 5 is inapplicable to cyberattacks. The question boils down to this: When does a cyberattack constitute an act of war? There is no definition of a cyberattack in the NATO Treaty or elsewhere in international law.

Cyber espionage is a commonplace. U.S. defense contractors and government networks, including those of the intelligence agencies, are subjected to thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of cyberespionage attempts each day. Some succeed because every defense to them is penetrable eventually.

But cyberespionage is not cyberwar for one principal reason: it does no physical harm. Espionage only benefits the spy who remains undetected. People arent injured or killed, computer networks arent destroyed, and neither military nor civilian targets aircraft, the electricity power grid, and such are destroyed or damaged. Obviously, the cyberespionage or hacking that penetrated the UK Parliament email system wasnt an act of war.

Everyone who saw the Bruce Willis movie Live Free or Die Hard knows that cyberterrorism is not cyberespionage. The former can take down power grids, disrupt or rob financial networks, and kill people.

But theres a great deal more that cyberterrorists or nations acting against their adversaries can do. Some of those cyberattacks can and probably should be classified as acts of war.

Lets get organized. Cyberespionage isnt cyberwar. We do it as much as every other nation (and, I hope, more). Its the cost of doing business on the internet.

Leakers arent the issue. Leakers are traitors and should be caught and punished whenever possible. When CIA Director Mike Pompeo said that WikiLeaks was acting as a hostile intelligence service he was precisely right. But WikiLeaks, and others like them, are only as good as the leakers who feed them documents and data.

Hacking is a term that has lost its meaning because of its ubiquity. For the purposes of this discussion, lets exclude the innocent (or criminal) acts of individuals, governments, and terrorists gaining access to others emails and browser histories. As bad as they may be, theyre not acts of war.

But there is precedent for a definition of cyber acts of war.

In April 2007, the government of Estonia was subjected to a sustained cyberattack that lasted for weeks and effectively prevented Estonias government from functioning. The attack was almost certainly made by Russia, which naturally denied its involvement.

Estonia had become a member of NATO three years earlier. It didnt have the capability to retaliate against Russia but it could have invoked Article 5 of the NATO treaty to require participation in any military strike against Russia by the U.S. and other members. But the Russian cyberattack was, at worst, a marginal case under Article 5. Moreover no one, least of all the NATO members who are woefully deficient in defense spending, wanted to go to war over what the press characterized as a hacking incident.

Other cyberattacks were more clearly acts of war. For example, in 2007 the computer controls of many of Irans uranium enrichment centrifuges were penetrated by what reportedly was the Stuxnet computer worm that caused the centrifuges to run at excessive speed, destroying themselves. Other Iranian computer networks were also affected, bringing them down for a time.

Its almost certain that the Stuxnet attack emanated from either the United States or Israel and perhaps both. Stuxnet went far beyond espionage or hacking by materially damaging, and thus setting back, Irans nuclear weapons program. Because of its effects, the Stuxnet attacks were acts of war but Iran didnt claim them as such mainly because, at the time, it didnt have the capability to respond militarily.

Lets set the baseline. Our nation spends billions of dollars a year trying, with only middling success, to protect our cyber networks government, commercial, and private in a way that reduces but clearly doesnt eliminate the worst threats of cyberwar, including sabotage.

In setting the baseline we have to recognize that everything from most cars produced in the past ten years, to nuclear reactors, satellites, and fighter aircraft the F-35 is probably the best (i.e., worst) example are susceptible of cyberattack that can literally take over their controls and prevent them from performing their most essential missions. That vulnerability is limited only by the effectiveness of enemies efforts to penetrate their cyber defenses.

In March 2015 Adm. Mike Rogers, NSA Director and commander of U.S. Cyber Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in open session that the U.S. governments efforts to deter enemy cyberattacks werent working. Further, he said that we needed to increase our offensive cyberattack capabilities in order to create a deterrent effect. As a statement of the problem and not as an afterthought, Rogers said that then-President Obama hadnt delegated to him the authority to deploy offensive tools.

There is no reason to think that much has improved since then.

Now, we have one of our principal allies saying that at some point they may respond to a cyberattack with military action that would implicate all NATO members under Article 5. Thus, Article 5 needs to be amended to define what cyber events constitute an act of war on which the invocation of Article 5 can be justified.

This is not a trivial exercise, but lets take a crack at it.

To constitute an act of war, thereby justifying the invocation of Article 5, a cyberattack should be defined as an act by a nation or non-state actor such as a terrorist network that: (a) is performed by an identifiable actor and (b) attempted to cause or succeeded in causing physical injury to people or property (including damage to computer software) on a significant scale or (c) had the effect of preventing a government from employing its defense assets in peacetime or otherwise defending some or all of its citizens from harm.

The definition I propose is relatively simple. If a nation, or a non-state actor such as a terrorist network, commits a cyberattack that kills or injures people on a large scale or damages or destroys a significant amount of government or personal property, the event should be defined as an act of war. Taking control of an F-35, preventing it from navigating, using its weapons or even causing it to crash, would fit the definition. The Stuxnet attack on Iran would also fit.

Amending Article 5 to include a definition of cyberattacks would both limit it to properly prevent member states from using it to justify military action on baseless grounds and put enemy states on notice that certain cyberattacks are off-limits. As war evolves, so must the law of war.

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NATO and Cyberwar: Will Britain Invoke Article 5? - American Spectator

U.S, NATO Vow Full Support In War On Terror | TOLOnews – TOLOnews

Top diplomats also paid tribute to the security force members, killed in the May 31 truck bombing, who had stopped the vehicle from entering the Green Zone.

The United States and NATO have reaffirmed their full support to Afghanistan in the war against terrorism and extremism, saying the U.S and NATO were determined to fight terrorism together with the Afghan government and the people. U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens labeled terrorists a small contingent of people who only think about destruction and hatred. Meanwhile, general John Nicholson, the commander of NATOs Resolute Support Mission (RS) in Afghanistan has paid tribute to the Afghan National Police (ANP) officers who defied the May 31 suicide bomber and sacrificed their lives to stop the truck from entering the Green Zone. He said these officers sacrificed their lives for the sake of their country and the people. These remarks were made at a special gathering in Kabul attended by officials from the U.S embassy, German embassy, UK embassy and some top Afghan government officials where they honored the slain security force members killed in the massive truck bombing in the city. We can personally express our gratitude and respect to your sons, your husbands, your fathers. They were our heroes, you are our heroes. They were strong and brave, you are strong and brave, said Nicholson. The U.S ambassador warned that terrorists have two options - either to lay down arms or face justice. "Let's devote special recognition to these brave heroes who gave everything to save their fellow man, their courage and sense of duty possibly prevented a catastrophy in our embassy and I offer the heartfelt condolences of president Donald Trump and the people of the United States, said ambassador Llorens. In addition, the Afghan Minister of Interior Taj Mohammad Jahid stressed the need for longstanding cooperation of the international community with Afghanistan in order to eliminate terrorism in the country. Our international partners help us in combating the enemies of humanity, the enemies of the world particulary the enemies of people of Afghanistan, their longstanding commitment to Afghanistan and support to our security forces, holding of this ceremony itself indicates the sympathy and support of our international partners, said minister of interior Taj Mohammad Jahid. The statements come after last weeks announcement by NATO that it would send in more troops to Afghanistan, where they will advise, assist and train the Afghan security forces.

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NATO could be forced to respond to the Petya attack, says new report – The Verge

In the wake of last weeks massive Petya ransomware attack in Eastern Europe, researchers are reaching consensus that the incident was a politically-motivated cyberattack. According to CNBC, the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD COE) recently put out a statement claiming that the attack was like done by a state actor or a group with state approval. The development means that the cyberattack could be viewed as an act of war, triggering Article 5 of the Washington Treaty and compelling NATO allies to respond.

"As important government systems have been targeted, then in case the operation is attributed to a state this could count as a violation of sovereignty, wrote Tom Minrik, a researcher at the CCD COE law branch, in the release. Consequently, this could be an internationally wrongful act, which might give the targeted states several options to respond with countermeasures.

This could be an internationally wrongful act.

The statement puts the CCD COE, a NATO-sponsored cybersecurity research center based in Estonia, in agreement with researchers poring over the details of the attack. The Petya virus was seemingly aimed at central Ukrainian institutions instead of a broad array of ransom targets, and Ukraine bore the brunt of the attack. That fact, along with the basic errors that make ransom seem like a poor reason for a campaign of this scale and complexity, makes it looks like cyber criminals were not the culprits.

"The operation was not too complex, but still complex and expensive enough to have been prepared and executed by unaffiliated hackers for the sake of practice, the Centre wrote in the release. Cyber criminals are not behind this either, as the method for collecting the ransom was so poorly designed that the ransom would probably not even cover the cost of the operation.

Its possible Russia sponsored the campaign, given its history of military and cyber attacks in Ukraine, though theres no concrete evidence proving the Russian governments involvement. Whats more, some major Russian firms were hit in the attack. However, the Ukrainian state security service is blaming Moscow, claiming yesterday that the same Russian hackers who took down the countrys power grid last year were behind the hacks.

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NATO could be forced to respond to the Petya attack, says new report - The Verge

NATO Considering ‘Petya’ Malware a Potential Act of War – Gizmodo – Gizmodo

On Saturday, Kevin Scheid, a Department of Defense veteran, was placed in charge of NATOs cyber operations. The appointment wouldnt be big news if it werent for the fact that hes joining the organization at a hair-raising point in history. The vicious malware triggered NATO to announce on Friday that the attack is believed to be the work of a state actor and is a potential act of war.

The 90s cyberpunk thriller Hackers is used too often to illustrate the fearful future of cyber

There was a lot of ruckus back in May when Donald Trump met with the leaders of NATO and failed to confirm that the US is committed to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. Thats the clause of the agreement that pledges the members of NATO to mutual defense. Legally speaking, if Article 5 is triggered by an attack on one member, the other members are required to join in retaliation. NATOs Secretary General confirmed this week that a cyber operation with consequences comparable to an armed attack can trigger Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty and responses might be with military means. But Fridays press release emphasizes that we dont know enough about the origin of NotPetya or the intentions behind its release at this time.

NATO researchers have concluded that the malware can most likely be attributed to a state actor, and if a nation is determined to be responsible, this could be an internationally wrongful act, which might give the targeted states several options to respond with countermeasures. What sort of countermeasures? Well, pretty much anything. Independently, the UKs defense secretary announced this week that his country was prepared to respond to cyber attacks from any domain - air, land, sea or cyber.

If our unhinged president in the US wants to start a war for the hell of it, he pretty much has the power to do that. But NATO functions on strict rules. Tom Minrik, a researcher at NATO CCD COE writes:

If the operation could be linked to an ongoing international armed conflict, then law of armed conflict would apply, at least to the extent that injury or physical damage was caused by it, and with respect to possible direct participation in hostilities by civilian hackers, but so far there are reports of neither.

Minrik is outlining what would justify full on IRL military conflict. That doesnt, necessarily, mean that NATO couldnt respond in the cyber-realm if it determined that a government was responsible for NotPetya. He continues:

As important government systems have been targeted, then in case the operation is attributed to a state this could count as a violation of sovereignty. Consequently, this could be an internationally wrongful act, which might give the targeted states several options to respond with countermeasures.

NATO doesnt know whos responsible for NotPetya, and no experts have attributed the attack to one actor with any certainty.

Its one of the most fascinating pieces of malware to ever wreak havoc on a large scale. At first, people thought it was ransomware, then it was more likely to be a wiper with some ransomware code. Its become clear that it uses the EternalBlue and EternalRomance exploits that were pilfered from the NSA and released by the hacking group the Shadow Brokers in April. But intriguingly, it appears that whoever created NotPetya had access to those exploits two weeks before they were given to the public.

Another puzzling factor is the motive for releasing this malware that doesnt seem to benefit anyone. No one is getting paid. Its just a really destructive worm that locks up systems. It was first released in Ukraine, and that countrys security services are blaming Russia. But Russians were victims of the attack as well. Its such a pointless and nasty worm that the crime group behind the original Petya actually jumped in and volunteered to help victims. Lauri Lindstrm, a researcher at NATO says, it seems likely that the more sophisticated and expensive NotPetya campaign is a declaration of power - a demonstration of the acquired disruptive capability and readiness to use it.

According to Bloomberg, attacks on NATOs electronic infrastructure increased by 60 percent last year. If its true that a state actor is responsible for NotPetya, its possible that NATO taking notice and talking up Article 5 could make the perpetrator think twice. Then again, if the responsible party gets away without a trace, theyll know that theyre untouchable.

[CCDCOE via Security Affairs, Bloomberg]

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NATO Considering 'Petya' Malware a Potential Act of War - Gizmodo - Gizmodo

Ex-NATO leader: Meeting is Trump’s chance to ‘confront’ Putin on hacking – The Hill (blog)

Former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO John Stavridis said Sunday that President Trump's upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin is his best chance to confront him about meddling int he 2016 election and start peace talks.

"[The] meeting is a good thing," Stavridis told radio host John Catsimatidis inan interview that aired Sunday on AM 970 in New York.

"It is an opportunity for President Trump to confront President Putin about his interference in our election."

Trump plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, their first face-to-face encounter since Trumps inauguration in January.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster told reportersThursdaythe two leaders plan to meet. A spokesperson for Putin previously said the meeting would take place on the sidelines of the summit.

McMaster said there is no set agenda for the meeting, butStavridis suggested Sunday that it would also be a good opportunity to discuss ending war in Syria.

"We ought to be exploring with President Putin how we can cooperate to end this terrible war in Syria. This is not going to be solved on the battlefield. It is going to require a diplomatic resolution. And only the United States and Russia working together can resolve it,"Stavridis said.

"Today I think it is clear frankly with the Russian assistance to Assad that Assad is not going anywhere. So, rather than end up in a situation where another 500,000 people die, I think it is time to have a political accommodation."

Trump has been signaling a more aggressive and antagonistic approach to Syria and Russia, Assads primary backer, since the chemical attack moving away from his campaign promises to forge better ties with Moscow and to avoid U.S. military interventions in the Middle East.

There have been conflicting signals from administration officials over what actions by Syria might provoke another U.S. response, and the administration has yet to offer support for other forms of intervention, such as setting up a safe zone for civilians.

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Ex-NATO leader: Meeting is Trump's chance to 'confront' Putin on hacking - The Hill (blog)

NATO fears could push Europe towards more nuclear weapons – euronews

Fears the US will withdraw its security umbrella from Europe could push countries to develop their own nuclear weapons, according to a group that monitors global arsenals.

France and the United Kingdom are the European Unions only nuclear powers, both having fewer than 5% of the number of warheads held by the US and Russia.

But experts say that could change amid Donald Trumps threats to reduce the USs commitment to NATO.

President Trump thinks the U.S. pays too much to guarantee European countries security and has urged NATO members to spend more on defence.

Trumps statements and general style so far appear to have increased concern in Europe and Asia about US security commitments, including providing a nuclear umbrella, Hans Kristensen, associate senior fellow at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) told Euronews.

If those concerns continue and deepen, they could potentially cause some of those countries to reevaluate whether they need to develop nuclear weapons for their own security.

The latest statistics on the nuclear weapons reveal the US and Russia both have around 7,000 warheads each.

The pair, which own 93 percent of the worlds nuclear weapons, are on track to meet a 2018 deadline to reduce their stockpiles.

While France and the UK have maintained or reduced their capabilities, three Asian countries India, Pakistan and North Korea have upped theirs.

SIPRI says while overall the number of warheads is on a downward trend, all nine nuclear powers are modernising their arsenals.

It says the U.S. plans to spend $400 billion (349 billion euros) over the next decade to maintain and upgrade its nuclear forces.

The projected increases in U.S. spending are not unexpected, added Kristensen. The current U.S. administration is continuing the ambitious nuclear modernisation plans set out by President Barack Obama.

Trump has said the U.S. must strengthen and expand its nuclear capacity until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.

Although Trump cant directly affect other countries nuclear arsenals, his policies can certainly influence how they view the need for nuclear weapons, said Kristensen.

An increase or significant improvement of the US nuclear arsenal is likely to help fuel modernization plans in other countries.

Thats not to say they wouldnt modernise their forces if the United States didnt, but US improvements can drive requirements in those countries to compensate or match the US capabilities.

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NATO fears could push Europe towards more nuclear weapons - euronews

NATO 2.0 – Europe and America’s first line of defense against …

With the seeming unraveling of the European Union the worry across the continent is whether NATO can survive and whether this post World War II organization linked to the EU is prepared to deal with the challenges of the 21st century. There is little doubt the NATO alliance faces security challenges more complex and demanding than at any time since the end of the Cold War.

Russia has flexed its military muscle in Crimea, the eastern Ukraine and Syria. It has tried to intimidate the Baltic states with the aggressive use of cyber-attacks and disinformation and has modernized its military hardware consistent with its hostile nature.

NATO has added to its defense portfolio with a clear anti-terror program against ISIS, al Qaeda and Boko Haram modifying its traditional mission.

And in a gesture to President Trump, it vowed to live up to the Defense Investment Pledge of spending 2 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

NATO 2.0 is a combination of the old and the new, missions that have recently converged. Since 2014 NATO has conducted the most elaborate reinforcement of its collective defense since the end of the Cold War. This includes: forward presence in the eastern part of the alliances; rapid reinforcement capability; the strengthening of nuclear deterrence and cyber defenses and creating a Joint Intelligence and Security Division.

Are these steps sufficient to deter possible Russian aggression and terrorist threats? The only way to tell is by enemy inaction. For example, cyber-attacks are becoming more frequent and sophisticated than in the past. They have reached a threshold where they can become as harmful as a conventional attack. Recent cyber incidents, including the WannaCry and Petya attacks, indicate the increasing threat posed by malicious state and nonstate actors. According to the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) there are more than 30 sovereign states that have offensive cyber operation programs. Furthermore, these capabilities are increasingly in the hands of criminal and other nonstate actors.

Ensuring the security of Allies is not only about deterrence and defense in Europe. It is also about what happens beyond European borders. NATO has had extensive experience in projecting force through operations in the Balkans and Afghanistan. It is also involved in dealing with the continental migrant crisis. In fact, the steep decline in illegal migration between 2015 and 2016 is due to NATOs presence in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas in a program called Operation Sea Guardian. NATO claims to have formal partnership with over 40 countries and a range of international organizations.

Despite cavalier statements made during the campaign season, NATO is as important today as when it was created in 1948. However, any organization with a seven-decade history requires reexamination. NATOs mission should be carefully assessed along with troop deployments. The financial commitment of members should be reasserted.

Since the U.S. doesnt have resources or the inclination to be the worlds policeman to cite an unfortunate clich it can enhance its influence through multilateral organizations like NATO. In fact, NATO could serve as a model for fledging organizations in other parts of the world. In President Trumps Riyadh speech he made reference to an Arab NATO in the Middle East. Clearly this would probably not include Article 5, the proposition that an attack on one is an attack on all, but in most other respects the NATO architecture would be duplicated.

As I see it, NATO as the bulwark of defense for democratic institutions is critical. Europeans may believe they are capable of an independent force, but this view is misguided. Europe needs NATO as its first line of defense and the U.S. needs NATO to hold back the tide of terrorism.

Dr. Herb London is president of the London Center for Policy Research and is co-author with Jed Babbin of "The BDS War Against Israel."

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NATO 2.0 - Europe and America's first line of defense against ...

US Cyber Warrior Begins NATO Job as Trump Pressures Alliance – Bloomberg

By

July 1, 2017, 7:00 PM EDT

U.S. President Donald Trump will have less scope to bash the North Atlantic Treaty Organization now that an American is at the helm of the alliances technology and cyber security arm.

Source: NCI Agency

Kevin Scheid, a veteran of the U.S. Department of Defense, became head on July 1 of the NATO Communications and Information Agency, which runs the electronic networks of the 29-nation alliance. NCI Agency spends about 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) a year to ensure NATOs technological backbone is up to the tasks of fighting terrorism, protecting European airspace, conducting maritime operations and withstanding cyber attacks.

Not only do we think about the future and trying to develop the capabilities that the command needs and the nations need, and develop those capabilities, but at the same time we have to make sure that the existing networks are up and running and secure, Scheid, who is serving a three-year term as general manager of NCI Agency, said in an interview in Brussels. This gets NCI Agency deeply involved in the area of cyber security.

Trump has shaken seven decades of American foreign policy by questioning the relevance of U.S.-led NATO, which he called obsolete during his presidential campaign. Since entering the White House in January, Trump has dropped that label while pressing allies in Europe to foot more of the common defense bill and NATO as a whole to play a bigger role in fighting terrorism.

NCI Agency, with a staff of more than 2,000, was formed in 2012 from the merger of five NATO units. The group contracts out to industries to bolster the alliances land, sea, air and cyber capabilities and will be seeking bids for 3.2 billion euros in orders for satellite communications, air and missile defenses, cyber security and advanced software.

Cyber security has also moved to the top of NATOs agenda, with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg saying attacks on the alliances electronic infrastructure spiked 60 percent last year to an average of 500 a month. Most of the incidents were state-sponsored, according to NATO.

The worldwide cyber threat was highlighted last week when an attack that started in Ukraine hit businesses, port operators and government systems in the U.S., South America, Asia and elsewhere in Europe.

To read more about Trump and NATO funding, click here

Among Scheids most immediate tasks is to ensure that NATOs new headquarters in the Belgian capital has properly protected information-technology systems. Construction of the 1.1 billion-euro glass-and-steel structure, which Scheid called one of the worlds most complex and largest security systems, is virtually completed while IT work continues.

What has been challenging about the new NATO headquarters is the complexity of a smart building, he said. Its a network surrounded by glass, steel and some cement.

NATO intends to start moving 4,500 staff members to the site, located across the street from the current headquarters, later this year. Scheid said the new building is more complex than what was estimated early on.

At a May 25 meeting where the alliances leaders inaugurated the complex, Trump, after hectoring fellow leaders to increase military spending, said: I never asked once what the new NATO headquarters cost. I refused to do that. But it is beautiful.

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US Cyber Warrior Begins NATO Job as Trump Pressures Alliance - Bloomberg

Russia and NATO War Games in Europe See New Player: China – Newsweek

Russia and China have begunnavalexercises in the Baltic Sea, the most significant sign of military cooperation between the two major powers in a region seen as a flashpoint for Moscow's rivalry with Western military alliance NATO.

Russia's ambassador to ChinaAndrei Denisov acknowledgedFriday that the joint drills conducted by Russian and Chinese armed forces were unique, especially in the increasingly militarized Baltic region, but denied that the nations were "scaring off" rival powers. The Baltics have become a major point of contention between Russia and U.S.-led NATO, which have bothdevoted extensive military resources toward fortifying the region's borders.The twofactions accuse one another of instigating a European arms race, but Denisov dismissed Western concerns Friday.

Related:Americas new problem? Russia wants to solve the North Korea crisis

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"There is a point of novelty, but I havent heard anyone expressing much concern over this so-called threat. The Baltic States repeat their usual incantations, but at the same time, they take for granted the fact that NATO is deploying large forces on their territory," Denisov told reporters, according to the state-run TASS Russian News Agency.

"Those who are scared off are inclined to being scared," he added.

A Chinese soldier waves farewell to Russian fleets as the Chinese-Russian joint naval drill concludes in Zhanjiang, Guangdong Province, China, September 19, 2016. Russia and China, which trail behind only the U.S. in military power, have sought greater cooperation in recent years and have begun joint naval drills in the highly contested Baltic Sea, where NATO has raised its defenses. Stringer/Reuters

The Joint Sea-2017 drills began last week as China deployed a fleet consisting of guided missiledestroyer Changsha, mulitpurposefrigate Yuncheng, one comprehensive supply ship, ship-borne helicoptersand a number ofmarines to St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad, a Baltic exclave of Russia located between Lithuania and Poland,Xinhua News Agencyand Reutersreported. Days later, a U.S. spy plan and Russian jet reportedly came within five feet of one other over the Baltic Sea during an incident in which both nations said the other was at fault.

LithuanianForeign Minister Linas Linkevicius told journalistslast week that China's cooperation with Russia, who he referred as a country that is "not setting an example in the field in real life and by way of actions," could threaten regional stability,The Baltic Timesreported.In response, the Russian Defense Ministry issued a statement maintaing that the exercises were routine and intended to"strengthen and bolster Russian-Chinese relations regarding overall strategic cooperation," according to TASS Russian News Agency. Additionaldrills are scheduled for mid-July.

Chinese and Russian marines take part in the 400-meter sea-crossing and landing training as a par of the China-Russia naval drill 'Joint Sea-2016' on September 13, 2016 in Zhanjiang, Guangdong Province of China. The two countries have recently signed a roadmap for greater military cooperation and may also seek to form a united front to counter U.S. pressure on North Korea and its nuclear weapons program. Li Jin/VCG via Getty Images

Denisov's remarks Friday came one day after Russia and China signed a roadmap for military cooperation and just ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's scheduled visit Monday at the invitation of his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Puint. Throughout the two-day visit the pair were expected to "examinethefull spectrum ofrelations within thecomprehensive partnership andstrategic cooperation between Russia andChina, aswell ascurrent international andregional matters," according to the Kremlin's official website, which also anticipated that the leaders would sign bilateral agreements.

Observers often rank Russia and China as the world's second and third strongest military powers, respectively, behind the U.S. The two have frequently teamed up against initiatives led by the West in the U.N. and Russia has recently entered a political spat involving the U.S. and China over nuclear-armed North Korea in the Asia-Pacific.

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Russia and NATO War Games in Europe See New Player: China - Newsweek


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