- The Washington Times - Friday, July 9, 2021

President Biden urged Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call Friday to take action to stop persistent ransomware attacks against the U.S., and said there will be consequences.

“I made it very clear to him that the United States expects, when a ransomware operation is coming from his soil, even though it’s not, not sponsored by the state, we expect him to act, given enough information to act on who that is,” Mr. Biden told reporters at the White House.

“It went well, I’m optimistic,” the president said. 

It was the same message that Mr. Biden delivered to Mr. Putin in person at a summit last month, apparently to no avail. He again warned Mr. Putin that the U.S. is prepared to retaliate.

Asked if there would be consequences for the latest attacks, Mr. Biden said “yes” without elaborating.

The president said he was encouraged that the U.S. and Moscow have “set up a means of communications now, on a regular basis, to be able to communicate to one another when each of us thinks something’s happening in another country and affects the whole country.” 

Russian hackers are accused of attacking a contractor for the Republican National Committee last week, while Russian cybercriminals with the gang REvil also launched what is believed to be the single largest global ransomware attack around the same time.

“President Biden underscored the need for Russia to take action to disrupt ransomware groups operating in Russia and emphasized that he is committed to continued engagement on the broader threat posed by ransomware,” the White House said in a statement before Mr. Biden spoke.

“President Biden reiterated that the United States will take any necessary action to defend its people and its critical infrastructure in the face of this continuing challenge.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to tell reporters about Mr. Putin‘s response.

Despite the tensions, Mr. Biden also found reason to compliment Mr. Putin on their efforts to help Syrian refugees.

“The leaders commended the joint work of their respective teams following the U.S.-Russia Summit that led to the unanimous renewal of cross-border humanitarian assistance to Syria today in the UN Security Council,” the White House said.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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