NATO eyes greater control over North Atlantic amid increased Russian activity

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OTTAWA — NATO’s top military officer says the alliance is looking to boost its presence in and ability to control the North Atlantic in response to increased Russian activity in the region.

Gen. Petr Pavel tells The Canadian Press that proposals are being drawn up and will likely be presented to NATO leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, when they meet in Brussels this coming July.

The emphasis on North Atlantic security underscores the seriousness with which the alliance is taking any threat from Russia as the area would be pivotal for sending reinforcements from North America to Europe during a war.

It could also have direct implications for Canada, which was tasked with helping protect the transatlantic seaways from German submarines and ships during the two world wars and from Soviet vessels during the Cold War.

Pavel, who is originally from the Czech Republic and is in Ottawa following a visit to Washington earlier this week, says NATO is also grappling with cyberspace, which is becoming increasingly militarized but still lacks any clear rules.

Pavel says cyberattacks can be as deadly as conventional weapons, and while NATO is strengthening its defences, it also wants to work with countries like Russia and China to set clear rules for when they can — and cannot — be used.

The Canadian Press