Russian Intelligence and The Election

Finally, yesterday, 14 July at least one newspaper in Russia has reported on the indictment in Washington DC of 12 GRU (Russian military intelligence) officers for hacking into the computers of Hillary Clinton’s campaign from March through to November 2016.

Without going into too much detail, the liberal Novaya Gazeta gives this as background to “What is going on in the USA before the summit”. The indictment names the officer – Viktor Borisovich Netyksho – commanding Unit 26165 located at 20 Komsomolskii Prospekt in Moscow, which led the spearfishing and spoofing operations that got the Russians into the targeted computer systems. It also names Alexandr Vladimirovich Osadchuk, officer commanding Unit 74455, at 22 Kirova Street, Khimki (known as “The Tower”) just outside Moscow, which supervised the distribution of the information obtained. The distribution went out under fake labels, “D.C. Leaks” and “Guccifer 2.0”, which led people to believe that these were leaks from within the Clinton campaign.

Not surprisingly it is the Democrats who are most outraged by this campaign to subvert the presidential election to tilt the balance to Donald Trump’s advantage and it is Democrat opposition to the summit that Novaya Gazeta focuses upon.

The most interesting question now is how far President Trump will take this matter in his conversations with President Putin. In cyberwarfare both sides have vulnerabilities and the Americans do have the capacity to inflict considerable damage on Russia. The GRU officers will obviously not be brought to trial as they will never have to get anywhere near American jurisdiction, but other measures could be taken. Retaliation against cyberwarfare does not have to be symmetrical and the ousting of GRU officers from the United States early on in the Trump presidency illustrates only one avenue the Americans might take. How much weight Trump gives to this issue relative to others in his negotiations will indicate how urgent he believes the task to be of protecting American sovereignty from foreign subversion. If he ducks this one, the Democrats will have a field day.