Russia sends mixed signals on DNC hack while Obama plans ‘proportional response’

Has Russia denied hacking the U.S. presidential election? Not quite. 

In the week after U.S. authorities formally accused Russia of the cyberattacks against the Democratic National Committee, Moscow has given mixed messages in response to the U.S. accusations.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the accusations “groundless” and “absurd” while other Russian officials have left their comments open to interpretation.  

“It’s flattering, of course, to get this kind of attention,” Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said. “For a ‘regional power,’ as President Obama called us some time ago, now everybody in the United States is saying that it is Russia … is running the nation’s presidential debate.”

If that sounds less like a denial and more like a finger-wag, Lavrov went further.

“No, we did not deny this,” Lavrov clarified. “They did not prove it.”

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered a similarly opaque remark on the hacking accusations.

“Listen, does it even matter who hacked this data?’’ Putin told Bloomberg in September. “The important thing is the content that was given to the public.’’ 

The Obama administration disagrees. They are currently considering a “proportional response” to Russian actions.

“The president has talked before about the significant capabilities that the U.S. government has to both defend our systems in the United States but also carry out offensive operations in other countries,” Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Tuesday.

The new phase in Washington–Moscow relations comes just after a ceasefire in Syria between Russia and the U.S. fell apart, giving way once again to brutal violence throughout the war-torn country.

Patrick Howell O'Neill

Patrick Howell O'Neill

Patrick Howell O'Neill is a notable cybersecurity reporter whose work has focused on the dark net, national security, and law enforcement. A former senior writer at the Daily Dot, O'Neill joined CyberScoop in October 2016. I am a cybersecurity journalist at CyberScoop. I cover the security industry, national security and law enforcement.