World We Need Nothing Short of New Moscow Rules to Wrangle Putin
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.
It’s been a good spring for Russian President Vladimir Putin. First, the White House announced that they were waiving sanctions on the company behind Russia’s Nord Stream II gas pipeline to Germany, and then days later it was announced that U.S. President Joe Biden and Putin would meet forThese overtures towards Moscow stand in stark contrast to the most recent round of sanctions against Russia that the Biden administration imposed just a few weeks ago. This appears to be a carrot and stick approach. But it will take more than one round of sanctions to recalibrate our relationship with Moscow.
Putin: Russia's relationship with US at its 'lowest point'
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the relationship between his country and the US is at its "lowest point" ahead of his meeting with Joe Biden. © Other Vladimir Putin spoke to NBC News ahead Pic: NBC News In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Mr Putin said: "We have a bilateral relationship that has deteriorated to its lowest point in recent years."The two leaders will meet in the Swiss city of Geneva on 16 June.
Everywhere we turn today we find examples of Russia’s aggressive intelligence operations. The Russian intelligence assault against the West has not only been “sweeping and systematic” but also brazen and unrelenting with the goal of weakening our political system.
Russian interference in the 2016, 2018, and 2020 U.S. elections has been well documented. But what’s less appreciated is that since 2016, Russia’s actions have continued largely unconstrained, whether it be its attempts at two very high-profile assassinations of Sergei Skripal and Alexei Navalny using Novichok or continuing to conduct election interference and disinformation campaigns across nearly the whole of Europe. Only recently have we learned of the disruption of a Bulgarian Spy Ring of Russian agents, a Russian espionage scandal in Italy, and the designation of Russian culpability in the sabotage of a weapons facility in the Czech Republic in 2014.
Vladimir Putin Returns Compliments to Donald Trump Ahead of Joe Biden Meeting
The two presidents will meet in Switzerland on June 16 for their first bilateral summit since Biden came to office.Trump issued a statement on Thursday praising his relationship with Putin and touting a 2018 meeting between the two in Helsinki, Finland. He also mockingly offered Biden good luck, saying "don't fall asleep during the meeting.
Likewise, the Russians recently targeted several of our agencies that make up our critical national infrastructure with a wide-sweeping cyberespionage operation in the SolarWinds hack. Most recently, Russia reportedly has conducted cyberespionage targeting vaccine development in Canada, the U.K., and the U.S., and spreading disinformation about Pfizer and other Western-developed vaccines. These actions add to the mounting body of evidence that Russia is engaged in a full-on intelligence assault of the West.
Within this maelstrom, it may be hard to appreciate just how much of a seismic change this interference in our internal political process has been in the context of the longstanding “Moscow Rules.” These rules are a set of unwritten norms meant to limit operational activity that could lead to a serious confrontation. Since the height of the Cold War, Russian and American intelligence services have refrained from assassinations, terrorism, or strong-arm tactics directed against each other’s officers as well as from engaging in counterfeiting operations. And, most importantly today, direct interference in each other’s internal political processes. This understanding held firm with a few minor exceptions from the post-Stalin era up to the 2016 election. The significance and high risk of this departure in political action has been largely underplayed, especially in the age of cyberwarfare.
The view from Russia: What to expect from the Putin-Biden summit
Wednesday’s highly anticipated meeting in Geneva comes as ties between Washington and Moscow are at post-Cold-War lows.That is how US President Joe Biden has previously described his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
These most recent sanctions were appropriate because they clearly laid a broad list of grievances at Russia’s feet and have some sharp edges like circumscribing Russia’s sovereign debt capacity and calling out key perpetrators of Russia’s active measures. However, it would be overly hopeful to think that these sanctions will be sufficient and moving immediately toward engagement might be underestimating our adversary, Russia’s Spymaster President Vladimir Putin. Trained by the KGB, former head of the FSB, and now commander in chief of the GRU and SVR with no meaningful check on his power domestically, Putin’s instincts are those of a Cold War spymaster who is entrenched in his adversarial position against Western democratic ideals and the West generally.
It would be naïve to believe that Putin will now cease in his engagement of disinformation and active measures against the West. Rather, Putin will not back off and will test Biden’s resolve to remain strong against Russia. But he won’t shy away from the opportunity to appear on equal footing with a new American president in front of the world! Putin is a hardline realist with a deep appreciation of power dynamics.
The Putin summit may backfire on Biden
The biggest risk Biden faces won’t come during the Putin summit. It’ll possibly come right afterward.That may sound good, but experts warn Biden is setting himself up for potential failure.
Seen through an intelligence prism, now is the time to engage in “unseen” efforts to compel Moscow back to a contained and constrained level of behavior—most likely in the cyber arena but also through intense and consistent sub rosa negotiations on a new set of “Moscow Rules.” Coordinated and high-level discussions between national security counterparts could help draw “out of bounds” lines and perhaps most importantly project a credible countermeasure stance to what would happen should Russia seek to conduct another cyber-attack or election interference campaign. Sanctions and summits are just a start. The “unseen” is what will determine if we are ultimately successful.
Jack Devine is the former Acting CIA Director of Operations and is currently the president of The Arkin Group, a New York City based international intelligence and investigative company. His is the author of the recently released book.
Vladimir Putin Says Joe Biden is 'Intelligent, Collected, Does Not Miss a Thing' .
Russian President Vladimir Putin gave high marks for U.S. President Joe Biden after their meeting in Switzerland this week—despite their rocky relationship of the past. © PETER KLAUNZER / POOL / AFP/Getty Images US President Joe Biden (R) talks to Russian President Vladimir Putin prior to the US-Russia summit at the Villa La Grange, in Geneva on June 16, 2021. "Biden is a professional, and you need to work very carefully with him so as not to miss something," Putin told reporters Thursday—a day after they met in the neutral site of Geneva, Russian state-owned media TASS reported.