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17 Sep, 2009 10:18

ROAR: “US intelligence is afraid of Russian hackers”

ROAR: “US intelligence is afraid of Russian hackers”

Analysts seem unconcerned about the new US intelligence strategy, while many papers stressed that Washington has added Russia to “the Axis of Evil.”

The US 2009 National Intelligence Strategy (NIS) adds Russia to countries that “have the ability to challenge US interests.” At the same time, NIS, which offers general guidance to American intelligence agencies for the next four years, calls Moscow “a US partner in important initiatives such as securing fissile material and combating nuclear terrorism.”

However, the new strategy stressed that Moscow may “continue to seek avenues for reasserting power and influence in ways that complicate US interests.” Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are mentioned in the report as the states that may challenge the US not only in such ways as military force and espionage, but also in cyber operations.

Many Russian papers note that, although the NIS did not consider a particular country as “a cyber threat,” the Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said that “China is very aggressive in the cyber-world, so too is Russia and others.”

It was not a big surprise for many observers to find Russia in a new “Axis of Evil,” as some papers put it. “America has officially recognized Moscow its enemy,” Komsomolskaya Pravda daily wrote.

This thought is echoed by the headline on website Utro.ru: “Russia has become the US’s enemy.” Many other papers and online publications also use the word “enemy” in the articles dedicated to the NIS.

It seemed recently that America “had decided to reset relations with Russia to make them like those existing between partners,” Komsomolskaya Pravda wrote. And now the US “has practically declared a new Cold War, having published the National Intelligence Strategy,” the paper said.

Another daily, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, quoted a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying: “It is strange that US intelligence has come up with an assessment that contradicts the statements of Barack Obama – the US President has said that both states are building relations of strategic partnership.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry also called on the US to “stop seeing the threat in the development of China and abandon the rhetoric of the Cold War,” the paper said.

Russia was added to a list of “scarecrows” threatening the US interests, together with China, North Korea, and Iran, Komsomolskaya Pravda said, adding that “a new Axis of Evil” has appeared.

Even under George Bush there were no such harsh assessments, the daily added. The paper even assumed that American “hawks” might have decided to spoil the next meeting between the Russian and the US presidents.

Another daily, Moskovsky Komsomolets, also stresses that the previous report of National Intelligence, published under Bush, “did not mention Russia, and was mainly focused on fighting terrorism and promoting democracy.” This time, the problem of US cyber security was brought to the forefront,” the daily added.

However, Utro.ru noted that fighting terrorism, the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and support for US military operations remain the main priorities of National Intelligence.

Despite citing the potential threat from Russia, the US at the same time expressed its readiness for cooperation with Moscow, many observers note. However, US intelligence considers Russia a partner only in certain spheres, wrote Krasnaya Zvezda, the paper of the Russian Defense Ministry. These spheres include fighting international terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the paper added.

At the same time, many analysts seem unconcerned about the new NIS. “I do not see something terrible in this report,” Pavel Zolotarev, deputy director of the Institute for the US and Canadian Studies, said. “Yes, we can complicate the realization of US interests, but the US can complicate ours interests also,” Zolotarev told Komsomolskaya Pravda.

“These are usual relations between states, especially such big ones,” the analyst added. One should take into consideration the fact that Russia is the only country except the US “with such huge nuclear potential,” he said.

It is also absolutely understandable why Russia had been added to the countries from which cyber attacks may be conducted, Zolotarev said. “Do not forget that we have a lot of amateur hackers,” he added. “These guys may hack everything,” he said. His words were echoed by Mayak radio, assuming that “the US intelligence is afraid of Russian hackers.”

At the same time, Zolotarev does not see any reasons to “be frightened, and say that they again include us in the Axis of Evil.” America is “cautious enough in assessing Russia’s potential as a state that may damage US interests,” Zolotarev said in another commentary for the Baltic Information Agency.

The US has some grounds for this assessment, he said. “We are friends with the countries of Latin America, which are not friendly to the US, and we are developing military and technical cooperation with them,” the analyst said.

“This does not mean that this cooperation is directed against the US, but the United States is indirectly interested in having more detailed intelligence information to assess emerging threats to their interests,” Zolotarev added.

“When it comes to intelligence agencies, it does not matter what state they deal with – partner, enemy or a potential adversary,” the analyst said. Intelligence, as a rule, is collected “against friendly states too,” he added.

Many observers offer a simple explanation as to why the US intelligence community “needs new threats” in the NIS – it is necessary to justify increasing the budget of $75 billion for all intelligence agencies. This sum is “one-third larger” than previous budgets, Krasnaya Zvezda noted.

Vladimir Voeykov, a veteran of Russian military intelligence, believes that there is nothing unusual in this “frightening report of American analysts.” “This is the case every time when the US intelligence agencies want to tap Congress for money,” he told Komsomolskaya Pravda.

“To find serious grounds for this demand, they again use tales about Russian spies being capable of penetrating anything,” Voeykov said. “Soon, the Obama’s beloved dog will be added to the list of spies,” he said.

Sergey Borisov, RT