A top NATO researcher has sounded alarm bells over how far Russia will go to undermine Western institutions, and Canada is no exception.
The Canadian Press spoke to Janis Sarts, the director of the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, for an interview about alleged Russian meddling in foreign elections.
Sarts explained that destabilizing Canada would “undermine the cohesion” of the NATO alliance and could potentially damage Canada’s policy in Europe, which would benefit Russia by allowing their influence to flourish.
Sarts told The Canadian Press the decision to interfere in elections could help Russian President Vladimir Putin show “other countries are afraid of Russia” and bolster support for his government.
“The moment somebody can question the integrity of the elections and the election result, democracy is in trouble,” Sarts said.
Following Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, it’s not surprising to hear the Russians would meddle again.
Moscow has also been accused of trying to disrupt elections in Germany, France, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.
Last year, Canadian troops arrived in Latvia as part of a NATO mission to deter further acts of Russian aggression. The alliance’s move was seen as a direct response to Russian activity in Ukraine.
“Our position here is entirely defensive and proportionate in response to Russian actions,” Lt.-Col. Wade Rutland told CBC News in June 2017.
The issue of alleged Russian meddling has caused a political distraction south of the border, and there’s concerns it will happen again unless serious steps are taken. On Tuesday, U.S. National Security Agency director Michael S. Rogers said no orders have been given from the White House to combat Russian meddling now or in the future.
In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has entrusted 30-year-old Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould with protecting the integrity of the next federal election. A spokesperson for her office told The Canadian Press they are closely monitoring foreign threats.
Are you concerned about Russia potentially meddling in Canada’s next federal election? Out of the three major political parties, is there one you can see the Russians preferring over the others?