World JBS hack latest escalation of Russia-based aggression ahead of June 16 Putin summit: experts
Biden, Putin to meet in person June 16 in Geneva, White House confirms
President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to meet in Geneva next month, the White House announced Tuesday, maintaining that the meeting will serve as a tool to manage what will continue to be a deeply challenging relationship between the U.S. and Russia. The meeting is expected to take place on June 16, when Biden and Putin are slated to discuss issues like Iran and North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, Syria, the Arctic, strategic stability, arms control, climate change, COVID-19 and more.
-based have targeted U.S. interests in recent months, which experts say is directly related to the upcoming U.S.-Russia summit.
The latest ransomware assault this week shut down the U.S.-based meat plants of the world’s largest meatpacker, Brazil-based JBS, and the White House said a criminal group likely based in Russia is thought to be responsible for the ransomware attack.
"All of this isresurgence strategy," said former CIA Moscow station chief Daniel Hoffman, a Fox News contributor.
Russian TV Circus: Biden Desperately ‘Begged’ For Putin Talks
Russian state media has gone berserk in the run-up to the summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin next month. Evgeny Popov, host of Russia’s state TV show 60 Minutes, baselessly claimed that President Biden was finally able to secure a meeting with Putin only after “begging” for it. “They’re certainly celebrating this at the White House,” Popov claimed. His wife and co-host, Olga Skabeeva, said: “The whole world wants to meet with Putin, but absolutely everyone is afraid to do so, because they know that Putin will dominate. Trump was afraid of that—and all of us remember how it ended for Trump.
Hoffman, who served in Moscow for five years, said these attacks are occurring as a show of force in the lead-up to the June 16 summit.
"He has to tear down our democracy because it’s a threat to them," he added.
The attack on JBS – a major meat supplier to the U.S. – comes just weeks after the largest U.S. fuel pipeline, the East Coast's Colonial pipeline, was targeted by a criminal group originating in Russia. In April, Putin massed tens of thousands of troops on the Ukraine border.
The Biden administration declined to condemn Putin, Russia's president, after the Colonial pipeline attack and stressed that the U.S. does not believe Russia's government was involved.
"We do not believe — I emphasize, we do not believe the Russian government was involved in this attack. But we do have strong reason to believe that criminals who did the attack are living in Russia,"said on May 13.
Beef Prices Rise, Shortages Feared as White House Confronts Russia Over JBS Meat Packer Hack
"The White House is engaging directly with the Russian government on this matter and delivering the message that responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals," Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday.The White House believes that the ransomware attack was carried out by a group of Russian cybercriminals and directly confronted the Russian government over the issue after being informed of the attack by JBS. It happened only weeks after a similar attack brought down the Colonial Pipeline, causing gas prices in parts of the country to surge and fears of shortages to come to fruition as panicked motorists flocked to pumps.
Rebekah Koffler, a former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) intelligence officer for Russia and author of the upcoming "Putin's Playbook: Russia's Secret Plan to Defeat America," told Fox News the use of criminal gangs is a common tactic by the Kremlin.
"They do that to maintain plausible deniability," Koffler said, pointing to Russia’s use of mercenaries in Ukraine and Syria.
"What Putin wants is to establish what we call the 'balance of power,'" she said.
The U.S. and Russia have long competed on a global scale, and where the U.S. exceeds Russian capabilities, as in the case with the U.S. military, Putin has relied on other factors to bolster Russian dominance – including cyber-strikes.
"Putin is trying to signal to President Biden that he is in a much stronger position ahead of the summit," Koffler said.
The former DIA intelligence officer argued that while Biden’s rhetoric condemning Putin has been strong, his actions have been weak.
JBS resumes meat operations after cyber attack halts production
Global meat processing company JBS says it is on schedule to resume production at all their facilities, including Australia.The company said in a statement that it had made "significant progress" in restoring its IT systems in order to get back to "business as normal.
Late last month, the president lifted Trump-era sanctions targeting theNord Stream 2 pipeline that will run natural gas from Russia to Europe – a move some believe sends the wrong message to European allies.
Apart from geopolitical jockeying, experts believe one of the biggest hurdles facing the U.S in the upcoming summit is Putin’s disinterest in improving relations.
"That’s not what Vladimir Putin seems to want," Hoffman said.
Putin’s determination to overcome the U.S. in the global superpower arena means they will never be interested in pursuing a "friendship," argued Koffler.
"The U.S. security apparatus has falsely been imagining that certain things are achievable with Russia, and every single president has tried the so-called ‘reset’ and failed," she said. "Because Russia does not view itself as a friend."
The Kremlin issued a warning earlier this week that "uncomfortable" signals would be sent to the U.S. ahead of the summit later this month.
"The Americans must assume that a number of signals from Moscow ... will be uncomfortable for them, including in the coming days," Sergei Ryabkov, Russia's deputy foreign minister, told RIA news agency, reportedMonday.
Blinken's warning for Putin: He will answer for ransomware attacks
Secretary of State Tony Blinken warned that Vladimir Putin will have to answer for the ransomware attacks that caused meat and gas prices to skyrocket.'We would prefer to have a more stable, predictable relationship with Russia. We’ve made that clear. But we’ve made equally clear that if Russia chooses to act aggressively or recklessly toward us or toward our allies and partners, we’ll respond,' Blinken told Axios' Mike Allen in an interview that aired on HBO.
The comments were made after Biden said he would press Putin on issues surrounding human rights.
Ties between Biden and Putin have been strained following a March interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos when the U.S. president was asked if he thought Putin was a "killer," to which he answered"I do."
Putin later, "Takes one to know one."
Koffler argued Biden’s comments during the interview may have emboldened the Russian adversary, though whether Biden’s words will have an effect on the summit remains to be seen.
Hoffman, on the other hand, does not believe the dialogue of a domestic interview will hinder U.S.-Russia relations.
"It doesn’t matter," the former Moscow-based CIA station chief told Fox News. "The Russians have been very active against us forever."
"Calling Putin a killer is just theatrics," Hoffman added.
The White House did not immediately respond to Fox News' questions.
Meat company JBS paid $11M to hackers in ransomware attack .
JBS CEO said the decision to pay the ransom was difficult but necessary to prevent potential risk to customers.Brazil-based JBS SA said on May 31 that it was the victim of a ransomware attack, but Wednesday was the first time the company’s United States division confirmed that it had paid the ransom.