The US has stepped up its cyberattacks on Russia after the Kremlin claimed responsibility for a string of hacks of US election-related political organizations and election databases, officials said on Monday.
The US, the US-allied NATO alliance and Ukraine have all said the hacks are aimed at undermining the country’s democracy.
A group of cybersecurity experts in the US, Russia and Ukraine, have been working on a report to address this issue.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and the US President Donald Trump had a long-running spat over Ukraine, which led to sanctions by the US and its European allies.
The Russian government blamed the US for hacking into the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Washington Post reported, citing a report from a cybersecurity firm, CrowdStrike.
The company said on its website that the hacks had “targeted a range of US political and policy organizations and databases that were central to the DNC and the Clinton campaign’s operations”.
It added that the group said it did not have a way to know who was behind the attacks, adding that it had no proof to support that claim.
CrowdStrike said it had examined “more than 20 different indicators, including metadata, email and social media data, to determine that the malware used was a part of a Russian state-sponsored attack.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Trump tweeted that the DNC was “corrupt” and “a total disgrace”.
The US and Ukraine are close allies and are in the midst of an ongoing war in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels are fighting Ukrainian government forces.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday that Russia has the right to retaliate, but it is a “matter for Ukraine”.
“We are ready to take further steps and retaliate, it is not something that we would take lightly,” he told Russian state television.
“Russia is ready to defend itself.
Russia is ready for an open dialogue.”
Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said the Russian government would be ready to “respond to any threat, any action of the US against Russia”, but he did not provide any evidence.
“The threat to Russia is real, but the US is not acting alone,” Lukashenvich said.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told Russian TV on Sunday the US was “in the process of conducting cyber-attacks against the Russian Federation” and would retaliate.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday it was aware of US claims that the cyber attacks on its political opposition had been carried out by the Kremlin, but added that Moscow had no evidence to back the allegation.
The White the White House has said it was working to resolve the matter but added there was no evidence that the hack had anything to do with the US election.
Russian officials said that the Russian hack was “not aimed at our country”.
“This is an attack aimed at the Democratic Party of America,” Sergei Ryabkov, a senior official in Russia’s Foreign ministry, told state television on Saturday.
“It is the result of a long, intensive campaign.
We will act on it and retaliate.”
Russia’s foreign ministry also denied that the hackers were targeting US political organizations.
“Such actions are not directed at the US,” ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told state TV.
“We can say that they’re directed at other states and groups, such as the DNC, the American People’s Democratic Party and others.”
The US National Security Council said in a statement on Sunday there were “several indicators” linking the attacks to Russia.
“We believe that Russia is responsible for this attack, and we expect Russia to fully cooperate with the investigations,” the statement said.
“The Russian Federation has been accused of numerous cyber-operations that were aimed at destabilising the US political system.
This is a very serious accusation, and Russia should respond to it.”
Russian officials have repeatedly denied that Moscow was behind any of the cyber-hacks.
But the US State Department said the US had been “targeting Russia for decades” for the use of cyber-weaponry and “has made it clear it will respond militarily”.
“The United States has consistently called on Russia to halt these attacks,” it said.
The Kremlin has denied the accusations and said it is working on developing a counter-measure against the US.US President Donald J Trump and Russian President Vladimir V Putin attend a meeting at the presidential residence in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, October 17, 2021.
(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)The US has also called for Moscow to stop its hacking and said the White house has not taken any concrete steps to punish the country.US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has been at odds with the Kremlin on Syria and North Korea, told reporters in Washington on Monday that he believed the cyberattacks had been designed to undermine US elections.
“I do think the evidence points to a Russian operation, and I think the White houses investigation is now proceeding,” he said.
“It’s certainly the case that there are many indicators pointing to