Don’t cross these red lines: Biden to Putin
GENEVA, June 16, (AP): US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin concluded their summit on Wednesday with an agreement to return their nations’ ambassadors to their posts in Washington and Moscow and a plan to begin work toward replacing the last remaining treaty between the two countries limiting nuclear weapons.
But the two leaders offered starkly different views on difficult simmering issues including cyber and ransomware attacks originating from Russia.
Putin insisted anew that his country has nothing to do with such attacks, despite U..S. intelligence that indicates otherwise. Biden, meanwhile, said that he made clear to Putin that if Russia crossed certain red lines - including going after major American infrastructure - his administration would respond and “the consequences of that would be devastating,”
Will Putin change his behavior? Biden was asked at a post-summit news conference.
“I said what will change their behavior is if the rest of the world reacts” in a way that “diminishes their standing in the world,” Biden said. “I’m not confident of anything. I’m just stating a fact.”
Both leaders, who have stirred escalating tension since Biden took office in January, suggested that while an enormous chasm between the two nations remains the talks were constructive.
Putin said there was “no hostility” during three hours of talks, a session that wrapped up more quickly than expected.
When it was over, Putin had first crack at describing the results at a solo news conference, with Biden following soon after. Biden said they spent a “great deal of time” discussing cybersecurity and he believed Putin understood the US position.
“I pointed out to him, we have significant cyber capability,” Biden said. “In fact, (if) they violate basic norms, we will respond . ... I think that the last thing he wants now is a Cold War.”
Putin noted that Biden raised human rights issues with him, including the fate of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Putin defended Navalny’s prison sentence and deflected repeated questions about mistreatment of Russian opposition leaders by highlighting US domestic turmoil, including the Black Lives Matter protests and the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
Putin held forth for nearly an hour before international reporters. While showing defiance at queries about Biden pressing him on human rights, he also expressed respect for Biden as an experienced political leader.
The Russian noted that Biden repeated wise advice his mother had given him and also spoke about his family - messaging that Putin said might not have been entirely relevant to their summit but demonstrated Biden’s “moral values.” Though he raised doubt that the US-Russia relationship could soon return to a measure of equilibrium of years past, Putin suggested that Biden was someone he could work with.
“The meeting was actually very efficient,” Putin said. “It was substantive, it was specific. It was aimed at achieving results, and one of them was pushing back the frontiers of trust.”
Putin said he and Biden agreed to begin negotiations on nuclear talks to potentially replace the New START treaty limiting nuclear weapons after it expires in 2026.
GENEVA, June 16, (AP): Russian President Vladimir Putin contradicted the evidence Wednesday when he asserted Russians are not a leading source of cyberattacks on the United States and other countries. They are.
Putin also accused the imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny of leaving Russia unlawfully to seek medical treatment, ignoring the fact he was flown from the country in a coma. And he distorted the circumstances of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol as he sought to equate that attack with the threats his government contends with from political opposition in Russia.
A look at his claims in the news conference that followed his summit with President Joe Biden.
“From American sources, it follows that most of the cyberattacks in the world are carried out from the cyber realm of the United States. Second place is Canada. Then two Latin American countries. Afterward comes Great Britain. Russia is not on the list of countries from where - from the cyber space of which - most of the various cyberattacks are carried out.”
This portrayal defies the record. Putin did not identify the source of the list he cited. But Russian-based digital malfeasance is well established by U.S. officials and security researchers alike.
While the U.S., Canada and Britain all engage in cyberespionage, the most damaging cyberattacks on record have come either from state-backed Russian hackers or Russian-speaking ransomware criminals who operate with impunity in Russia and allied nations.
In one such attack, the NotPetya virus did more than $10 billion in economic damage in 2017, hitting companies including shipping giant Maersk, the pharmaceutical company Merck and food company Mondolez.
The cyberattacks that have recently done the most damage are from ransomware sowed and activated by Russian-speaking criminal gangs that enjoy safe harbor in Russia and allied nations and whose members have sometimes colluded with Russian security services.
The global ransomware plague that has caused tens of billions of dollars of damage in the past 18 months - hitting a company, hospital, school or other target about every eight minutes - was a major issue for Biden at the summit.
As well, Russian intelligence operatives famously interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election by hacking Democratic email accounts and orchestrating the release of those communications to boost the campaign of Republican Donald Trump and harm his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
Russian military hackers also attacked and briefly shut down portions of Ukraine’s power grid in the winters of 2015 and 2016.
Altogether, the cybersecurity firm Recorded Future estimates there were 65,000 successful ransomware attacks globally in 2020 from all sources.
The May attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which prompted it to cut off fuel supplies to the U.S. East Coast for five days, was the most spectacular in its impact on crucial infrastructure and came after the Biden administration called ransomware a national security threat exceeding cyberespionage
Putin, on the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol: “People came to the U.S. Congress with political demands after the election. Over 400 people have criminal cases opened against them, they’re facing prison terms of 20, or maybe even up to 25 years. They’re being called domestic terrorists and accused of a range of other crimes. Seventy of them were immediately after these events, and only 30 of them are still under arrest, unclear on what grounds.”
His suggestion that dozens of Jan. 6 insurrectionists were arrested and quietly imprisoned for political speech with unclear legal grounds is incorrect.
More than 480 people have been arrested in connection with the attack, mostly on federal charges ranging from unlawfully entering the Capitol to conspiracy. They include more than three dozen members and associates of right-wing extremist groups, like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.
Each of the suspects charged by the Justice Department was arrested based on a criminal complaint signed by a federal judge - which requires investigators to prove they have probable cause the person committed a federal crime - or an indictment handed down by a grand jury.
The cases have attracted media attention, prosecutors have highlighted many of the arrests with press releases and court records in the U.S. are generally public. The Justice Department also set up a website to list the cases it brought against suspects charged in the attack. It contains links to the charging documents against them.
So far, four people charged in the attack have pleaded guilty to federal charges.