Latvia worried about potential attempts to influence elections
There would be no military attacks on Latvia, but attempts by some countries to influence political processes couldn’t be ruled out, Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkēvičs said in an interview with Latvian Radio on Monday.
Commenting on outgoing U.S. president Barack Obama’s decision to impose new sanctions on Russia in response to cyber-attacks on U.S. political institutions in the run-up to the recent election, Rinkēvičs said they were unlikely to affect Latvia directly, but admitted concerns about their “unpublished part”.
The foreign minister indicated that developments in cyber space could have both direct and indirect implications for Latvia, which is why the agencies in charge had to take these events very seriously and analyze the facts reported by the U.S. administration.
“I think that this would be good food for thought to our services as they are preparing for potential problems here. Let’s remember that Estonia has already felt what cyber attacks mean,” Rinkēvičs said.
Asked if he had more information on what had happened in the U.S., Rinkēvičs said that a certain information-sharing mechanism existed in NATO, and that countries took measures as they deemed necessary.
Rinkēvičs also pointed to his recent meeting with U.S. Senator John McCain, who is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. McCain visited Latvia last week together with U.S. Senators Lindsay Graham and Amy Klobuchar. The ongoing investigation into the cyber attacks and the necessity to respond to them had been discussed at length during the senator’s visit, Rinkēvičs said.
“I said that we are interested in receiving information as Latvia, too, is entering its election circle,” Rinkēvičs said. He reiterated that there would be no military attacks on Latvia, but that there were great concerns about Latvia’s ability to withstand hybrid threats.
“Let’s also remember the fake news according to which U.S. president-elect Donald Trump reportedly spoke with the presidents of the Baltic states, hanging up in the end. This news was widely discussed in Riga’s cafes. This is something not only politicians, but also journalists should work on,” Rinkevics said, urging media representatives to be more particular about the content of their news stories.
Responding to Moscow’s cyber-attacks, the U.S. imposed fresh sanctions on Russia, expelling 35 Russian diplomats and sanctioning nine organizations and individuals, including the Russian Federal Security Service and Russian military intelligence. The Obama administration also ordered the closure of two compounds in the U.S. that the Russians had allegedly used for intelligence-related purposes.