Biden ‘Prepared to Respond’ If Russia Cyberattacks US
The White House also announced sanctions to limit Russia’s access to cutting-edge technologies.
President Joe Biden warned Thursday that the federal government would respond to Russian aggression in cyberspace.
“If Russia pursues cyberattacks against our companies, our critical infrastructure, we are prepared to respond,” Biden said in the White House East Room. “For months, we've been working closely with the private sector to harden our cyber defenses, sharpen our ability to respond to the Russian cyberattacks as well.”
The remarks came hours after Russian troops invaded Ukraine and Russian hackers used denial-of-service attacks to disable Ukrainian government and financial sites.
It is unclear what a U.S. response to Russian cyberattacks could entail. Through a tweet Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki appeared to discredit a report that President Biden had been presented with numerous options for the U.S. to execute major cyberattacks against Russia. According to the report, the options included disrupting internet connectivity across Russia, cutting off electric power and disturbing Russian railway traffic.
“This report on cyber options being presented to @POTUS is off base and does not reflect what is actually being discussed in any shape or form,” Psaki tweeted.
New sanctions hit tech
Biden also used his remarks on Thursday to announce several new sanctions designed “to maximize the long-term impact on Russia and to minimize impact on the United States and our allies.” The sanctions target Russia’s largest banks, certain members of the Russian elite and immediately reduce Russia’s ability to import cutting-edge technologies.
“The unprecedented export control measures will cut off more than half of Russia’s high-tech imports, restricting Russia’s access to vital technological inputs, atrophying its industrial base and undercutting Russia’s strategic ambitions to exert influence on the world stage,” according to a White House announcement.
“Between our actions and those of our allies and partners, we estimate that we'll cut off more than half of Russia's high-tech imports. This will strike a blow to their ability to continue to modernize their military,” Biden said. “It'll degrade their aerospace industry, including their space program, and hurt their ability to build ships, reducing their ability to compete economically. And it will be a major hit to Putin's long-term strategic ambitions, and we're preparing to do more.”
Nextgov reporter Brandi Vincent contributed to this report.
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