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NATO Examines (Russian) Cyber Attacks on Estonia

Extracts of front page news in the UK, Guardian newspaper today.

Without naming Russia, the Nato official said: “I won’t point fingers. But these were not things done by a few individuals.

“This clearly bore the hallmarks of something concerted. The Estonians are not alone with this problem. It really is a serious issue for the alliance as a whole.”

“This is an operational security issue, something we’re taking very seriously,” said an official at Nato headquarters in Brussels. “It goes to the heart of the alliance’s modus operandi.”

Alarm over the unprecedented scale of cyber-warfare is to be raised tomorrow at a summit between Russian and European leaders outside Samara on the Volga.

While planning to raise the issue with the Russian authorities, EU and Nato officials have been careful not to accuse the Russians directly.

If it were established that Russia is behind the attacks, it would be the first known case of one state targeting another by cyber-warfare.

Relations between the Kremlin and the west are at their worst for years, with Russia engaged in bitter disputes not only with Estonia, but with Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, and Georgia – all former parts of the Soviet Union or ex-members of the Warsaw Pact. The electronic offensive is making matters much worse.

“Frankly it is clear that what happened in Estonia in the cyber-attacks is not acceptable and a very serious disturbance,” said a senior EU official.

Estonia’s president, foreign minister, and defence minister have all raised the emergency with their counterparts in Europe and with Nato.

“At present, Nato does not define cyber-attacks as a clear military action. This means that the provisions of Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty, or, in other words collective self-defence, will not automatically be extended to the attacked country,” said the Estonian defence minister, Jaak Aaviksoo.

“Not a single Nato defence minister would define a cyber-attack as a clear military action at present. However, this matter needs to be resolved in the near future.”

Read the full version online here:
Russia accused of unleashing cyberwar to disable Estonia

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There are 3 comments .

eric —

Russia is acting in a counter-productive manner. We in Europe need their fuel and other resources. They, in turn, need reliable customers. Russia appears to understand the tactics of dominance and denial, but not the strategy for peace and prosperity. Alienating your customers and making them suspicious of your every move is not clever.

We don’t actually know who is waging cyberwar, but then again we still don’t know exactly who fomented the Bronze Soldier riots, and how. We don’t know who precisely gave the order to hamper traffic across the bridge between Narva and Ivangorod, but we have our suspicions.

A military alliance such as NATO, plus a trade & politics one such as the EU, put Estonia in a better bargaining position in Samara. I hope someone talks a bit of sense at that meeting. It was handy that Condy came to lay down the law just before.

It is also, surely, a positive sign that Estonia briefly hosted Israeli Deputy Prime-Minister Shimon Peres, plus various key rabbis for the opening of the synagogue and Jewish cultural centre in Tallinn. And, of course, the fact that Ilves and Ansip were there too (wearing yarmulkas, both of them). This helps to dispel the endless rumours that all Estonians are “fascists”. In fact, Estonia has good relations with Israel, as was repeated in Ilves’ speech yesterday. There have been several official visits in both directions.

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Robin Gurney

Thanks Eric,
On the friendly-with-Israel note I can also confirm that when Israel’s football team recently came to Estonia and won 2-0 (yes, the referee did need glasses at least twice that day) the Israeli fans sat throughout the stadium mixed in with all the Estonians and interested foreigners like me… and there was not even a sniff of anything remotely negative.

I can’t (sadly) say the same for the recent Estonia-Russia game (which also featured a poorly sighted ref…strange coincidence) where tensions ran higher..

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