Rasmussen: Growing Number of Adversaries Working to Undermine Western Elections

China, Venezuela, North Korea, Iran adopting Russian interference playbook

u.s. voting booth
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Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen will press European leaders on Monday to ramp up cyber-defense capabilities as a growing number of adversaries work to interfere in elections.

Using the playbook established by Russia during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, countries such as China, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela are attempting to delegitimize western elections, Rasmussen will warn.

"We cannot wait until after the European elections to take concerted action against election interference," Rasmussen will tell the European Commission at a conference on election security in Brussels, according to an advanced copy of his speech.

"Some of the most powerful nations on this planet have been targeted. Nations whose leader pledges to respond with ‘fire and fury' to military attacks. Yet they are muted when their own citizens' right to choose their representatives is under assault. Now we see the consequences of our inaction."

Rasmussen serves as co-chair of the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity, a bipartisan group of leaders from around the world, including former Vice President Joe Biden, that works to hinder attempts of election interference. The commission was created after the U.S. intelligence community determined Russia had meddled in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Rasmussen will encourage members of NATO and the European Union to dedicate a greater portion of their budgets to cyber countermeasures and to coordinate a united response to interference attempts.

"I believe we are woefully under-resourced," he will say, noting that the E.U. spends 1.1 million Euros on its East Strategic Command facility while Russia spends ten times that amount on its so-called troll farm—the Internet Research Agency.

"We must defend our democracy as robustly as we would defend our borders."

Rasmussen's warning comes three weeks before the U.S. midterm elections. President Donald Trump warned last month that China is working to interfere in the November midterms to damage his administration. Beijing denied the accusation.