President Vladimir Putin congratulated Russian spies for a job well done the day after Donald Trump sought to downplay that country’s involvement in the massive cyberattack against United States government and corporate computer systems.
The wily Putin, former chief spy at the KGB, is thought to have a wry sense of humor so it’s entirely possible that his intention was to throw some major shade in the wake of Trump’s Saturday tweet in which he tried to minimize the severity and extent of the attack and deflect blame away from Russia to China.
Russia and its SVR is widely thought to be responsible for carrying out the unprecedented attack on U.S. government computer systems, an attack that appears to have gone undetected for months and which some cybersecurity experts believe will take years to diagnose and remedy. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that U.S. intelligence agencies have made the determination that Russia was, indeed, responsible.
Russia has denied culpability. Throughout his presidency Trump has made it a kind of calling card to take the word of Putin over the assessments of U.S. intelligence agencies.
Speaking at an event commemorating 100 years since the founding of the SVR foreign intelligence service, Putin said the agency and other security services were a crucial guarantee of Russia’s “sovereign, democratic, independent development.”
“I know what I’m talking about here,” Putin said in comments shared on the Kremlin website. “And I rate very highly the difficult professional operations that have been conducted. The most serious attention must be paid to information security, to the fight against extremism and against corruption.”
Putin’s remarks also foreshadowed that the world can expect more shenanigans from his spies. “I expect that the Foreign Intelligence Service will continue to respond flexibly to the highly changeable international context, actively participating in identifying and neutralizing potential threats to Russia, and improving the quality of its analytical materials,” he said.