Lawmakers had called for Biden to get tough with Putin during their summit.
President Joe Biden on Wednesday said he warned his Russian counterpart that the U.S. would use offensive cyber operations in the future unless the Kremlin clamps down on cyber strikes against the U.S., including ransomware attacks and election interference.
“He knows there are consequences,” Biden told reporters in Geneva following his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “He knows I will take action.”
Biden later said he pointed out to Putin that the U.S. has “significant cyber capability.”
“He knows it. He doesn’t know exactly what it is, but he knows it’s significant. If in fact they violate these basic norms, we will respond.”
Key context: The remarks are the strongest Biden has made to date about the recent series of digital assaults that have been attributed to the Kremlin or Russia-based criminal networks, including the recent hack of the Colonial Pipeline that threatened to throw the country’s gas market into turmoil.
Lawmakers had called for Biden to get tough with Putin during their summit about the cyberattacks and Moscow’s interference in recent U.S. elections.
Biden said he told Putin that certain areas of “critical infrastructure” should be off-limits for cyberattacks and had provided a list of 16 sectors that should be free of tampering, seemingly a reference to the list composed by the Homeland Security Department’s cyber wing.
“The principle is one thing, it has to be backed up by practice,” Biden said. “Responsible countries need to take action against criminals who conduct ransomware activities on their territory.”
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