Cybersecurity Talks Between U.S., Russia “Proceeding with Great Difficulty,” Envoy says.

Talks on cybersecurity between the United States and Russia are “proceeding with great difficulty,” a top Russian cybersecurity diplomat said last week.

Andrey Krutskikh, special Russian presidential representative for international cooperation in cybersecurity and director of the Foreign Ministry International Security Department, said at the 9th All-Russian congress of political scientists that the Kremlin is “trying to come to an agreement with the Americans within the United Nations to somehow smooth over the possible consequences of all this,” Krutskikh told the state run news agency TASS.

“The war [in cyberspace] is underway and unfolding very intensively, the Kremlin diplomat said. “No matter how hard we may try to say that all this is disguised and that it isn’t that war or this war, in actual fact, military activities in cyberspace are in full swing,” he said. “What matters now is to calculate the damage and determine who will lose it in the end and what shape the world will eventually acquire as a result of this war.”

Russia last week proposed holding talks on cybersecurity with the European Union, following successful consultations with France, Germany and the Netherlands, TASS reported. “We have been pressing for collective consultations on cybersecurity with the European Union,” Krutskikh said. Discussions with Brussels have “intensified lately,” he said. “We had excellent full-scale talks with France, the Netherlands and Germany. There are plans for talks and consultations on information security with many other European countries,” the envoy said.

Last September, the European Union reportedly warned Russia immediately ahead of Germany’s federal elections not to launch cyber offensives to influence the vote. Russia-linked hackers are suspected of repeated cyber forays targeting members of Parliaments, government officials, politicians, the press, schools and other entities in the EU by accessing computer systems and personal accounts to steal sensitive data. The EU has tied the disinformation campaigns and data breaches to the Russian state-backed Ghostwriter crew, thought to be affiliated with Russia’s GRU military intelligence service.

Germany’s admonition of Russian cyber activity bears a strong resemblance to illicit activities generated and orchestrated by Kremlin operatives that have interrupted U.S. elections. The White House has recently stepped up its vigilance to blunt Russian-backed cyber attacks on U.S. critical infrastructure and influence peddling in the nation’s elections with sanctions and designations levied on Russian companies, individuals and financial institutions. In addition, President Biden has warned Russian President Putin to stay away from attempting hacks on U.S. critical infrastructure or face U.S. cyber retaliation.

Russian cyber operatives are believed to have architected a number of high profile cyber attacks on U.S. critical infrastructure, including the SolarWinds operation and the Kaseya and JBS offensives.

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