US officials contact Russian operatives in effort to prevent election meddling: report

US officials contact Russian operatives in effort to prevent election meddling: report

The U.S. has reportedly begun cyber missions against Russians to try and prevent the country’s influence campaigns.

The New York Times on Tuesday reported that U.S. officials have informed the Russian operatives behind the campaigns that they are aware of their actions, which the newspaper characterized as being the first cyber operations designed at safeguarding American elections.

The messages targeted hacking groups funded by Russian oligarchs, as well as Russian intelligence agents working on the Kremlin’s disinformation efforts, according to the newspaper. The messages reportedly came from U.S. Cyber Command.

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The Times reported that it's unclear how the American officials contacted the Russian operatives, and defense officials told the newspaper that the messages were not threats.

Still, experts told The Times that letting the Russians know that they could be targeted with sanctions or that they could be indicted could help prevent a future cyberattack.

The report comes just days after the Justice Department unsealed its first charge against a Russian national for interfering in next months’ midterm elections, alleging that she was part of an ongoing conspiracy to interfere in U.S. political systems.

At about the same time that the complaint was unsealed, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the FBI and the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice released a joint statement warning of ongoing efforts to influence U.S. opinion and elections.

Experts told The Hill that they believe the U.S. has still not done enough to prevent Russia from interfering in American elections, despite multiple indictments against figures tied to the Kremlin.