WSJ to Biden: Inaction on Russian cyberattacks would prove your ‘words are empty’

The editorial board of The Wall Street Journal is imploring President Biden to take swift action and send a strong message to Russia and other foreign adversaries that the U.S. will not tolerate cyber crime or those who harbor cyber criminals. 

“Barack Obama’s misadventures in Syria showed that a President shouldn’t draw red lines he isn’t willing to enforce. President Biden hasn’t been afraid to talk tough and set expectations with Vladimir Putin, but will Mr. Biden enforce his own red lines?” the Journal wrote in an editorial published Thursday.

“Mr. Putin has spent his time in power invading neighbors, meddling in Western elections, cheating on arms-control agreements—and allowing cyber attacks against the U.S. This despite the best efforts to improve relations from George W. Bush, Mr. Obama and Donald Trump. Mr. Biden’s team argued that last month’s summit wouldn’t solve a problem like Mr. Putin but could limit the damage. The new cyberattacks suggest this was wrong,” the board wrote.

The White House said Wednesday that Biden’s administration was considering a “range of options” on how to respond to recent cyberattacks carried out by criminals believed to be operating in Russia. 

“In terms of operational considerations, obviously it is not in our interest to preview those, or preview our punches as I like to say. The president has a range of options should he determine to take action,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. 

Biden was asked about his message to Putin on cyberattacks and told reporters on Wednesday: “I will deliver it to him.” 

Putin has denied any involvement in or knowledge of the recent attacks. 

The president said during the two leader’s summit last month, he gave Putin a list of 16 types of critical infrastructure that should be “off limits” from cyberattacks, including energy and water sectors.

“The principle is one thing. It needs to be backed up by practice. Responsible countries need to take action against criminals who conduct ransomware activities on their territory,” he said after the meeting

“If the U.S. doesn’t respond, it will be open season on America’s digital infrastructure,” the Wall Street Journal concluded. “Proportionate retaliation runs the risk of escalation. But after publicly drawing a red line, Mr. Biden has no choice lest he show Mr. Putin and other thugs around the world that the U.S. President’s words are empty.”
Tags Barack Obama Cyberattack Donald Trump Jen Psaki Joe Biden Joe Biden Russia–United States summit Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin
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