Russia’s reinvigorated hacking campaign against U.S. intelligence agencies is mostly because Russian President Vladimir Putin feels slighted by the U.S., Russia experts speculate.
“He’s giving us the finger… and the hacks are meant to intimidate the hell out of us,” former National Intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia Fiona Hill told The Washington Post. Hill elaborated she had to replace her iPhone five times because it kept mysteriously malfunctioning. All the malfunctions happened after she published a book critical of Putin.
Putin’s objective is to restore the power of the former Soviet Union, which he called a “catastrophe” in 2005. Putin has opted to adopt a world view that sees NATO and the European Union as existential threats to Russia’s goals. He reportedly resents being treated and referred to as a regional power, rather than a superpower, by the U.S. government.
“It’s an emotional story of Russia not being treated like a superpower and, for many of them, it’s a personal story,” a Russian intelligence expert elaborated to the Post. One former Putin advisor elaborated that Russia actually enjoys being accused of hacking the U.S., because it shows their prowess on the international stage.
U.S. intelligence agencies now report with “high confidence” that Russia was responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee’s email server. The release of the leaks is viewed as a “weaponization” of information gathered for intelligence purposes. Such a breach and release of information to influence U.S. elections surpasses any actions of the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War.
Russia has morphed old school soviet “active measures” with cyber spying, to create one of the most effective tools in its hybrid warfare arsenal. A retired KGB general defined active measures as driving “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.”
The U.S. reportedly had negligible intelligence capabilities during the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, the subsequent Russian invasion of Ukraine, its intervention in Syria, and sustained cyber manipulation efforts throughout Europe.
“The failure to understand Putin’s plans and intentions has been the largest intelligence failure since 9/11,” Congressman Devin Nunes said Thursday.
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