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Fiona Hill: we must see if the Biden-Putin meeting leads to “serious cyber talks”

Recent ransomware attacks against Colonial Pipeline and meat processing giant JBS have been blamed on Russian cybercrime gangs. On Wednesday after meeting with Biden, Putin said the two had reached an agreement to consult on cybersecurity, but did not provide details on what such talks would entail.

“Regarding cybersecurity, we have agreed that we will start consultations on this issue, and I think it is extremely important. And obviously, both sides have to assume certain obligations there,” Putin told reporters. in Geneva, Switzerland.

Biden added on Wednesday that he had given the Russian leader a list of 16 critical infrastructure entities in the United States prohibited from cyberattacks and said the United States would “respond by cyber” if Russia violated the list. Hill said Biden essentially drew a line and warned Putin not to cross it.

“We have made these red lines clear to Russia on several fronts, not just in the IT realm, but also in the military realm,” Hill said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation”.

Hill added: “I think we can also expect there to be some covert actions that could go beyond the 16 no-go zones, maybe ransomware attacks, criminal attacks, something that is. difficult to attribute. “

House Intelligence Speaker Adam Schiff doubled down on Biden’s comments, saying he agreed with the president’s assertion regarding the use of US cyber capabilities against Russia.

“I think when he said Putin understands that we have enormous cyber capabilities,” the California Democrat said on “Face the Nation,” “he was sending a message, we won’t hesitate to use them if we are to protect our industry and to protect our government, and that’s an important message to send.

Schiff insisted that Russia and other countries be held “responsible” for cyber attacks and said Putin cannot act without any idea of ​​Russian cybercrime.

“I think a lot of these hacking groups operating on Russian soil, some of them operating on Chinese or Iranian soil, have a synergistic relationship with these states, which means we have to hold these states accountable for this. what are these criminal gangs doing attacking our industry, ”Schiff said.

“It is also not credible for [Putin] suggest that – even though he knew they were operating on his soil, he was powerless to do anything, “he added.

Asked about “Meet the Press” if the meeting in Geneva was a victory for Putin, Hill replied that it was.

“In terms of symbolism of having a meeting with the US president, it’s absolutely a very important victory for Putin,” Hill said. “But it’s not a victory if nothing happens after that. It’s just an episodic event. And, you know, he can’t take that to the bank for a long time and cash it.”

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