Kremlin officials confirmed reports on Wednesday that cyberattacks against Russian entities were being launched from U.S. territory, but refused to comment on whether the U.S. military was behind the attacks.
On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that the U.S.’s main military cyber operation blocked Internet access to a Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency on November 8, the date of last year’s midterm elections. The agency reportedly has connections to many of the Russian intelligence officials, identified by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Counsel Robert Mueller as having interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters he could not verify claims of any American involvement.
“I wouldn’t say who can be behind these attacks, but we confirm that a huge number of these attacks are organized on a continuous basis,” he said. “When they talk about various Russian hackers, we say that we have looked into those who are behind the attack, for example on the president’s website, and they are from Europe, North America and so on. There is a huge number of perpetual attacks.”
“In general I can say that U.S. territory is constantly being used to organize a huge number of cyber attacks against various Russian organizations,” he continued. “That’s the reality with which we live.”
When asked if the U.S. had the ability to affect the functioning of the Internet in Russia, Peskov admitted that it was possible.
“The global Internet network is de facto administered by several companies,” he explained. “Judging by this, and given these potential threats legislative procedures are being carried out to pass legislation like the so-called sovereign Internet bill.”
According to Russian news agency TASS, Russia’s sovereign Internet bill, which recently passed through the lower house of parliament, involves “cutting the volume of data exchanged by Russian users, and which is sent abroad,” while also requiring operators to “install technical tools on communication networks [to] identify the source of this transmitted traffic.”
Earlier this year, both the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security revealed they had found no evidence of Russian interference in the 2018 midterm elections, attributing such success to the government’s more robust cybersecurity policy. They added that efforts to secure the 2020 elections from interference were “already under way.”