NATO countries are working to determine when a cyber attack would trigger the collective defence provision in the alliance’s charter, a US general has said.

The alliance is “dealing with the issue around this and in cyber and working to define an understanding of what would be a trigger for Article 5,” General Curtis Scaparrotti, the commander of NATO forces in Europe, told a US Senate committee.

It “recognises the difficulty in indirect or asymmetric activity that Russia is practising, activities below the level of conflict,” Scaparrotti said.

NATO leaders have agreed that a cyber attack against a member state could trigger Article 5, and reaching a specific understanding on the issue would allow “greater agility, greater flexibility in determining how to respond,” he said.

  • Collective defence means that an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies.
  • The principle of collective defence is enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.
  • NATO invoked Article 5 for the first time in its history after the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States.
  • NATO has taken collective defence measures on several occasions, for instance in response to the situation in Syria and in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
  • NATO has standing forces on active duty that contribute to the Alliance’s collective defence efforts on a permanent basis.


  1. This is good. About time North Korea and Russia realised cyber attacks are still attacks and will be considered as a hostile act that will lead to a counter attack.

  2. Identifying who attacked you has got to be the biggest problem with this. I can’t imagine they sign off with Boris, St Petersburg.


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