As all eyes are on the meeting today between Donald Trump and his boss Vladimir Putin in Hamburg today, it's important to note that Russia expects its new client state to be sufficiently deferential, and that the Trump regime isn't moving quickly enough to remove Obama-era sanctions on Moscow. As such, it looks like Vlad has sent a message to its American vassals reminding them just who they now work for.
Hackers working for a foreign government recently breached at least a dozen U.S. power plants, including the Wolf Creek nuclear facility in Kansas, according to current and former U.S. officials, sparking concerns the attackers were searching for vulnerabilities in the electrical grid.
The rivals could be positioning themselves to eventually disrupt the nation’s power supply, warned the officials, who noted that a general alert was distributed to utilities a week ago. Adding to those concerns, hackers recently infiltrated an unidentified company that makes control systems for equipment used in the power industry, an attack that officials believe may be related.
The chief suspect is Russia, according to three people familiar with the continuing effort to eject the hackers from the computer networks. One of those networks belongs to an aging nuclear generating facility known as Wolf Creek -- owned by Westar Energy Inc., Great Plains Energy Inc. and Kansas Electric Power Cooperative Inc. -- on a lake shore near Burlington, Kansas.
The possibility of a Russia connection is particularly worrisome, former and current officials say, because Russian hackers have previously taken down parts of the electrical grid in Ukraine and appear to be testing increasingly advanced tools to disrupt power supplies.
The hacks come as international tensions have flared over U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia tried to influence the 2016 presidential election. The U.S., which has several continuing investigations into Russia’s activities, is known to possess digital weapons capable of disrupting the electricity grids of rival nations.
“We don’t pay attention to such anonymous fakes,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, in response to a request to comment on alleged Russian involvement.
It was unclear whether President Donald Trump was planning to address the cyberattacks at his meeting on Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In an earlier speech in Warsaw, Trump called out Russia’s “destabilizing activities” and urged the country to join “the community of responsible nations.”
The Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation said they are aware of a potential intrusion in the energy sector. The alert issued to utilities cited activities by hackers since May.
May? You mean back when the Russians were demanding that the Trump regime return their US compounds near NYC and DC after Obama kicked them out in December? Trump definitely wanted to do it, but that was too much even for Republicans in Congress to stomach.
So it looks like we have our response from Vlad, ever so gently reminding us that being able to hack the control systems of several nuclear power plants at will should serve as sufficient impetus to maybe start taking his requests as demands that should be met.
Meanwhile, the intelligence community is warning that Russian agents are running amok right now and the Russians being able to fiddle with our nuke plants may actually be the least of our concerns.
Russian spies are ramping up their intelligence-gathering efforts in the US, according to current and former US intelligence officials who say they have noticed an increase since the election.
The officials say they believe one of the biggest US adversaries feels emboldened by the lack of a significant retaliatory response from both the Trump and Obama administrations.
"Russians have maintained an aggressive collection posture in the US, and their success in election meddling has not deterred them," said a former senior intelligence official familiar with Trump administration efforts.
Russians could also be seeking more information on Trump's administration, which is new and still unpredictable to Moscow, according to Steve Hall, retired CIA chief of operations.
"Whenever there is a deterioration of relations between countries — the espionage and intelligence collection part becomes that much more important as they try to determine the plans and intentions of the adversarial government," Hall said.
Since the November election, US intelligence and law enforcement agencies have detected an increase in suspected Russian intelligence officers entering the US under the guise of other business, according to multiple current and former senior US intelligence officials. The Russians are believed to now have nearly 150 suspected intelligence operatives in the US, these sources said. Officials who spoke to CNN say the Russians are replenishing their ranks after the US in December expelled 35 Russian diplomats suspected of spying in retaliation for election-meddling.
"The concerning point with Russia is the volume of people that are coming to the US. They have a lot more intelligence officers in the US" compared to what they have in other countries, one of the former intelligence officials says.
The Russians are playing the long game and winning. Obama underestimated them, much to America's sorrow. But Trump knows damn well that the Russians are a threat and he's ignoring it. The question is why, and the obvious answer is that they have quite a bit of leverage over him, which means Putin is largely expected to get what he wants from us on a number of things, especially Syria.
As such, Donald gets to check in with his new boss today: the real President of the United States.