Bangkok Post

Putin seeks truce with US in cy­berspace, still de­nies Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence

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>>MOSCOW: Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin of Rus­sia on Fri­day pro­posed a truce with the United States in cy­berspace, with­out ac­knowl­edg­ing that his coun­try has re­peat­edly used cy­bertech­niques to at­tack elec­tions from the Ukraine to the US, stolen emails from the De­fense Depart­ment to the White House, and de­vel­oped some of the world’s most so­phis­ti­cated dis­in­for­ma­tion ef­forts.

Mr Putin is­sued a writ­ten state­ment out­lin­ing a four-point plan for what he called a “re­boot” in the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the US and Rus­sia in the field of in­for­ma­tion se­cu­rity. Moscow and Washington, he wrote, should is­sue “guar­an­tees of non­in­ter­ven­tion into the in­ter­nal af­fairs of each other, in­clud­ing into elec­toral pro­cesses.”

He urged a bi­lat­eral agree­ment “on pre­vent­ing in­ci­dents in the in­for­ma­tion space,” mod­elled on Cold War-era arms con­trol treaties.

Be­yond the con­cil­ia­tory lan­guage, Mr Putin’s state­ment of­fered no hint that Moscow was pre­pared to make any spe­cific con­ces­sions on its greatly ac­cel­er­ated use of cy­ber­weapons over the past decade — some­times di­rectly, some­times through prox­ies. Rus­sia con­tin­ues to deny in­ter­fer­ing in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, while in­sist­ing the US med­dles in Rus­sian pol­i­tics by back­ing Krem­lin op­po­nents.

“As we have said more than once, there is no ba­sis” for claims that Rus­sia has med­dled in Amer­i­can elec­tions, Rus­sia’s for­eign min­is­ter, Sergey Lavrov, said on Fri­day.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has said re­peat­edly that he is tempted to be­lieve Mr Putin’s in­sis­tence that Rus­sia had no role in the 2016 elec­tion, although the spokesman for the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, John Ul­lyot, dis­missed Mr Putin’s of­fer on Fri­day.

“It is hard to take such state­ments se­ri­ously when Rus­sia, China, Iran and oth­ers have sought to un­der­mine our elec­tion process,” Mr Ul­lyot said, fol­low­ing Mr Trump in sug­gest­ing the prob­lem goes be­yond Rus­sia.

“It is pos­si­ble that this of­fer is a fur­ther ef­fort by Rus­sia to cre­ate di­vi­sions in the United States,” he said.

Rus­sia has floated sim­i­lar pro­pos­als be­fore, in­clud­ing when Mr Putin met with Mr Trump in Helsinki, Fin­land, in 2018. Mr Trump warmed to them at first, say­ing he would work with Rus­sia to cre­ate “an im­pen­e­tra­ble cy­ber­se­cu­rity unit” de­signed to as­sure “that elec­tion hack­ing, and many other neg­a­tive things, will be guarded and safe.”

But Mr Trump’s dec­la­ra­tion was mocked by many, in­clud­ing some mem­bers of the pres­i­dent’s own staff, who asked how the US would jointly pa­trol cy­berspace with one of the world’s lead­ers in cy­beres­pi­onage. Around the same time, the US was plac­ing mal­ware in­side Rus­sia’s elec­tric grid and mak­ing no ef­fort to hide it, in hopes of de­ter­ring Moscow from at­tack­ing the Amer­i­can grid.

It was not clear if Mr Putin was call­ing for the re­set be­cause of the in­tense fo­cus on Rus­sian ac­tiv­ity around the 2020 elec­tion, or be­cause firms like Mi­crosoft have iden­ti­fied con­tin­ued Rus­sian at­tacks, some from groups linked to the mil­i­tary and Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence agen­cies.

This time, Mr Putin is call­ing for a re­set less than six weeks be­fore an Amer­i­can pres­i­den­tial elec­tion that could put an out­spo­ken critic of the Krem­lin — for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den — in the White House.

 ??  ?? Putin: Seek­ing a ‘re­boot’ with US
Putin: Seek­ing a ‘re­boot’ with US

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