US President-elect Donald Trump. | (Photo | AP)
BRUSSELS: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that outside attempts to manipulate national elections cannot be tolerated, amid uproar over claims Russian interference helped Donald Trump win the US presidency.
“Any attempt to intervene in, to influence national elections from outside is unacceptable,” Stoltenberg said when asked about allegations of Russian cyber attacks and hacking during the 2016 US presidential campaign.
Trump has consistently berated US intelligence agencies over their claim Russian President Vladimir Putin personally approved a cyber offensive to help him defeat Hillary Clinton.
On Wednesday, the president-elect, who took a much softer line on Russia than Clinton, conceded Moscow may have meddled but he bluntly rejected any suggestion his aides colluded with the Kremlin to win the vote.
Russia has rejected the charges.
Stoltenberg insisted the danger was real, adding that the US-led military alliance was “concerned” about cyber security and had seen reports about such attacks against “many NATO allies”.
“That is why NATO has focused on cyber defence… cyber security is top of our agenda,” he said after a meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English at NATO HQ in Brussels.
He recalled that NATO leaders at their Warsaw summit in July had made cyber security an “operational domain,” putting it on a par with its responsibility to provide traditional military capabilities on land, sea and in the air.
They also endorsed plans for a special response unit to help any ally under threat for a cyber attack against both military, and increasingly today, civilian infrastructure which is so dependent on computer networks.