There’s only one topic on the Sunday shows this morning as Russian troops target the duly elected Ukrainian government in Kiev. The lead guest: NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, who announced Friday that for the first time in the history of the alliance the organization’s Response Force would activate and deploy to eastern Europe. The U.S. and its partners are worried that Putin’s designs on empire have overtaken his strategic sense and that he might expand the attack on Ukraine to a NATO country in the Baltics. Sending NATO forces to those nations is a shot across the bow reminding him not to test the west’s willingness to uphold its Article 5 commitments. Stoltenberg will speak to “State of the Union” about the prospect of an ominous escalation.
Mark Warner, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is also booked this morning to discuss an aspect of the war that might reach America’s shores. Warner told Axios a few days ago that he’s worried about Russian cyberattacks, a weapon that could also draw an Article 5 response if it’s used. Cyberwarfare might come to the U.S. incidentally or intentionally:
1. Putin deploys cyber weapons inside Ukraine that take on a life of their own and spread to NATO member states. This has happened before — most notably in 2017, when Russia’s NotPetya malware was unleashed in Ukraine and ended up causing billions of dollars in damage to companies worldwide.
2. Putin retaliates against the West’s toughest sanctions by ordering direct cyberattacks targeting infrastructure inside the U.S. and other NATO allies. The U.S. government issued an alert this week urging businesses and agencies to protect their “most critical digital assets,” citing “the potential for the Russian government to consider escalating its destabilizing actions” beyond Ukraine.
How severe those attacks might get is anyone’s guess. They could knock a company’s website offline — or they could knock a power grid offline. Warner will chat with “Meet the Press” about the worst-case scenarios.
Finally, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is set for “Fox News Sunday” to give her thoughts on Putin. She dealt with him firsthand as Bush’s top diplomat. Does she think he’s as rational as he used to be or do we have to worry about a giant nuclear arsenal being commanded by man who’s now lost some of his marbles? The full line-up is at the AP.
We are deploying elements of the #NATO Response Force.
Here are 5️⃣ things you should know about the highly ready, multinational force pic.twitter.com/abdWkNAtqg
— NATO (@NATO) February 25, 2022