Russia/U.S. Consider Creation of Joint Cyber Working Group
The Russian and American governments are considering the creation of a joint cyber working group, according to a news report from Russia’s RIA news agency, which cited Vladimir Putin’s special presidential envoy on cybersecurity, Andrey Krutskikh.
The White House, for its part, has sent mixed messages about its interest in a working group. Following the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, President Trump said he had discussed the creation of a cybersecurity working group with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting. However, he later backed away from his statement on Twitter, writing, "The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn't mean I think it can happen. It can't."
However, the statements from Russian representatives seemed less uncertain. Krutskikh said, “Different proposals are being exchanged and are being studied, nobody is avoiding the need for negotiations and contacts. There is no need to overdramatise the working process, it is underway without doubts, it is difficult taking into account the US realities, but this is more of the issue of the US administration, not ours.”
In light of the discussions, even many Congressional Republicans expressed skepticism, with a cybersecurity working group seeming particularly ill-timed to many, in light of the ongoing investigations into both Russian interference in the 2016 election (using various cyber attacks, in many instances) and the level of involvement of the president and his campaign staff in secret discussions with representatives of the Russian government.
According to Reuters, other shake-ups have also caused some level of concern. The news agency notes that, “Chris Painter, a widely respected bureaucrat who led the U.S State Department’s international engagement on cyber security, is leaving his post at the end of the month amid media reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to shutter Painter’s entire office.”
On July 9th, President Trump tweeted, “Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded and safe.”
But the details remain unclear, particularly in light of the intelligence community’s repeated confirmations that official Russian government entities were responsible for attempts to meddle in the outcome of American elections.
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