- Says Moscow ‘hacked’ 21 states in election
United States’ State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said yesterday the U.S. remains open to discussions with Russia despite its decision to cancel talks between Russia’s deputy foreign minister and the No. 3 U.S. diplomat, Associated Press reported.
Russia said it was canceling the talks scheduled for tomorrow in response to a new round of U.S. sanctions against Russia that were announced Tuesday. Nauert said those sanctions “didn’t come out of nowhere.” She said Russia knows what it needs to do to get the sanctions lifted. She said the sanctions will remain until Russia honours its agreements related to Ukraine and stops occupying Crimea.
Nauert said the latest round of sanctions was designed to “counter attempts to circumvent our sanctions.” Russia’s deputy foreign minister said he has cancelled upcoming talks with the U.S. undersecretary of state over a new round of U.S. sanctions against Russia.
The Trump administration announced Tuesday that it has imposed sanctions on 38 Russian individuals and firms over Russia’s activities in Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday quoted Deputy Minister Sergey Ryabkov as saying that “the situation is not conducive to holding a round of this dialogue” that was scheduled for Friday and criticized the U.S. for “not having offered and not offering anything specific” to discuss.
Russia-U.S. relations have remained tense even as the White House considers scheduling President Donald Trump’s meeting with Putin on the sidelines of next month’s Group of 20 meeting. The Kremlin has voiced regret about the new U.S. sanctions against Russia and warned of possible retaliation.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that the U.S. move wasn’t constructive, adding that “various options are being considered on expert level.”The Trump administration announced Tuesday that it has imposed sanctions on 38 Russian individuals and firms over Russian activities in Ukraine. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the penalties are designed to “maintain pressure on Russia to work toward a diplomatic solution.”
Russia-U.S. relations have remained tense even as the White House considers scheduling President Donald Trump’s meeting with Putin on the sidelines of next month’s Group of 20 meeting. Peskov reaffirmed the possibility of such a meeting, but said that no preparations had been made yet.
Meanwhile, a U.S. official said yesterday that Russian hackers targeted election systems in 21 US states during last year’s campaign. Jeanette Manfra of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) refused to identify the states during her testimony before a Senate panel, citing confidentiality agreements. But she added there was no evidence to suggest actual vote ballots were altered in the election hack.
US intelligence agencies believe Moscow interfered to help Donald Trump win. Ms Manfra, the department’s acting deputy undersecretary of cyber security, testified on Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence committee, which is investigating Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election.
“As of right now, we have evidence that election-related systems in 21 states were targeted,” she told the panel. She said DHS still had confidence in the US voting system because they are “fundamentally resilient”.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement in election cyber hacks while Mr Trump has dismissed allegations that his campaign colluded with Russia as “fake news”.