U.S. warns of potential cyberattacks from Russia, citing ‘evolving intelligence’

The U.S. warned on Monday there was “evolving intelligence” that the Russian government was exploring options for potential cyberattacks, according to a statement from the White House.

“I urge our private sector partners to harden your cyber defenses immediately,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in the statement, adding everyone needed “to do their part to meet one of the defining threats of our time.”

Last week,Leaders of U.S. spy agencies said that Russian President Vladimir Putin may intensify the assault on Ukraine despite military setbacks and economic hardships resulting from international sanctions, setting up “an ugly next few weeks.”

They estimated that 2,000 to 4,000 Russian troops had died and said Russia was feeling the effects of sanctions, but the situation could become much worse for Ukrainians, with food and water supplies in Kyiv possibly running out within two weeks.

“Our analysts assess that Putin is unlikely to be deterred by such setbacks and instead may escalate,” Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told the annual House of Representatives Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats, where she testified with other intelligence agency directors.

Haines said Putin’s announcement that he was elevating his nuclear forces’ readiness was “extremely unusual” since the 1960s, but that intelligence analysts had not observed changes in Russia’s nuclear posture beyond what was detected during previous international crises.

“We also have not observed force-wide nuclear posture changes that go beyond what we’ve seen in prior moments of heightened tensions,” Haines said.

William Burns, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, echoed Haines’ assessment that Russia is unlikely to back down.

“I think Putin is angry and frustrated right now. He’s likely to double down and try to grind down the Ukrainian military with no regard for civilian casualties,” Burns said.

Burns said he and CIA analysts do not see how Putin can accomplish his goal of taking Kyiv and replacing President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s government with a pro-Moscow or puppet leadership.

“I fail to see how he can produce that kind of an end game and where that leads, I think, is for an ugly next few weeks in which he doubles down … with scant regard for civilian casualties,” Burns told the committee.

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