Russian President Vladimir Putin denied culpability for the hacks of prominent Democrat organizations and called WikiLeaks dump of documents a public service, Bloomberg News reported Thursday.
“There’s no need to distract the public’s attention from the essence of the problem by raising some minor issues connected with the search for who did it,” Putin said of accusations that Russia was responsible. Putin then pivoted and emphatically denied any Russian responsibility saying, “I don’t know anything about it, and on a state level Russia has never done this.”
U.S. intelligence agencies told the White House in late July they now assess with “high confidence” that Russia was responsible for hacking the DNC email server. Two independent U.S. based cyber security expert firms also attributed the hack to Russian intelligence agencies.
The release of the leaks is viewed as a “weaponization” of information gathered for intelligence purposes. While Russia has engaged in such activity in European elections, such a breach into U.S. politics would surpass any previous actions of the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War.
Members of American intelligence agencies have in the past alleged that WikiLeaks, the organization that released the DNC emails, is an arm of Russian intelligence. Still, there is no hard connection between the two (as intelligence fronts often work).
Soviet tactic intelligence operations against Western democracies are known as “active measures.” A retired KGB general defined active measures as “to drive wedges in the Western community alliances of all sorts, particularly NATO, to sow discord among allies, to weaken the United States in the eyes of the people.” Russia’s current spy apparatus is almost entirely run by former agents of the KGB. Putin himself was a KGB agent for years, before embarking on a life in politics.
Today’s Russia’s intelligence apparatus has applied active measures tactics to cyber space. “While the very concept of information warfare is quite old, today’s Russian theorists emphasize the influence of the 21st century changes,” Maria Snegovoya, an expert in Russian disinformation previously told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Today’s Kremlin policymakers make a special emphasis on the use of the internet.”
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