Russia: Not Our Friend
Reversing the thaw in the post-Cold War era, in recent years, Russia has worked against American values repeatedly and overtly. Here are some of the top examples.
Russia Threatens Important U.S. Allies
In 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, destabilizing democracy and threatening security in the region. As a result of this destabilization, pro-Russian forces fighting in Ukraine were able to obtain and use a missile to shoot down a Malaysian Airlines passenger flight over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. And in recent months, Russia has intensified its military presence along its border with our Baltic allies—Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. In light of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the continued militarization of the region is a troubling sign of further Russian aggression against U.S. allies and interests abroad.
Russia Attacks Our Friends’ Elections
It's no secret that Russia is not a friend of democracy. Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul noted that “for years now, the Kremlin has looked for ways to disrupt democracies, to help the people that they like to come to power and to undermine the credibility of the democratic process.” This is evident in their continued and directed cyberattacks against foreign nations throughout the last ten years. Here is a timeline of some of its most egregious attacks.
- April – May 2007: Russia dismantled Estonia’s internet after that country relocated the Bronze Solider of Tallinn, a Soviet grave marker.
- June 2008: Russian hackers defaced Lithuanian government web pages.
- August 2008: Georgian government internal communications were shut down by Russian attack on Georgia’s internet.
- January 2009: Russia shut down two of Kyrgyzstan’s internet service.
- April 2009: A Kazakhstan media outlet was shut down after publishing a statement from Kazakhstan’s President that was critical of Russia.
- August 2009: Hackers shut down certain social media websites in Georgia.
- March 2014: During Russia’s military seizure of Crimea, Ukraine’s internet was disrupted.
- May 2014: Ukraine’s election commission was shut down by a Russia-based hacking group, days before its presidential election.
- May 2015: Germany discovered hackers had penetrated the network of the German Bundestag.
- October 2015: The Russian government tried to hack into the Dutch government’s computers.
- December 2015: Russian hackers took over the control center of a Ukrainian power station.
- January 2016: A security firm announced its belief that Russian hackers were behind previous attacks on Finland’s Foreign Ministry.
- December 2016: Germany’s domestic security agency DfV announced that there was growing evidence that Russians were attempting to influence the upcoming September 2017 federal election.
This is the timeline of just the public and known attacks. The list of other, yet to-be-attributed attacks is likely to be even longer. An attack on any democracy is a threat to the stability of our own. Russia’s known use of cyberwarfare against these and other democracies is unacceptable, and cannot go unanswered.
Russia Attacks Freedom of the Press
Russia’s national news agenda is largely controlled by the Kremlin; editorial policy at its state-owned television stations is managed by the government. Freedom House has counted at least 63 violent attacks on Russian journalists since 2006, including the killing of 20. Beyond the atrocious nature of state-sponsored attacks on its citizens, it's evident that Russia doesn't hold any respect for the freedom of the press, a right that the United States holds as fundamental and remains enshrined in our Constitution.
Russia Commits War Crimes
Russia continues to support the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, whose use of chemical weapons is intolerable and constitutes a war crime. Russian forces in Syria have appeared to deliberately target civilian areas of Aleppo. In a report presented by the Atlantic Council, satellite images, social media, surveillance footage, and eyewitness accounts outline Russia’s “indiscriminate” bombing of civilian areas of Aleppo. These attacks, which are responsible for killing and injuring civilians (including children) and for leaving a portion of the capital city without access to functioning hospitals, have been broadly condemned by the international community.
Russia has committed cyberattacks against America
Besides taking the egregious step of meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections, Russia has engaged in further cyberattacks against Americans. On March 15, 2017, the Justice Department charged two Russian intelligence officers with directing the hacking of 500 million Yahoo accounts in 2014. The information the Russian government obtained from the hack was used to focus on foreign officials, executives, and journalists, and steal Americans' credit card and gift card information.
Russia supports an American enemy
Recently, Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, the top U.S. military officer in Europe, said that he has seen growing Russian diplomatic and military influence on the Taliban in Afghanistan. General Scaparotti said "I've seen the inflence of Russia of late - increased influence in terms of association and perhaps even supply to the Taliban." Since 2001, the U.S. has been at war with the Taliban in Afghanistan, where more than 1,800 American troops have been killed.
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