A Russia-based cyberattack on the United States would pose a "significant threat to national security," but it's not clear from past events that the government has taken enough steps to protect the country, Fred Fleitz, the vice-chair of the America First Policy Institute Center for American Security, said Thursday on Newsmax.
"I hope that there are very loud alarm bells both in private industry and by the U.S. government about these threats right now," Fleitz, a Newsmax contributor and former chief of staff to the National Security Council, commented on Newsmax's "John Bachman Now" in response to a Coast Guard warning that a cybercriminal group targeting infrastructure in Europe is also threatening the United States.
But even though this is not the first such threat, as "the Russians have a very robust cyberwarfare capability, and we know that they have preplanned attempts to attack U.S. infrastructure," said Fleitz.
Russian-speaking hackers on Wednesday claimed responsibility for knocking offline state government websites in Colorado, Kentucky, and Mississippi, as well in other states. The hacking group, known as Killnet, has increased its activities against targets in NATO countries since February when Russia invaded Ukraine. It is not known if the group of "hacktivists" has ties to the Kremlin, reports CNN.
"This is not the first time nor will it be the last," retired Army Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, appearing with Fleitz on Newsmax, said, adding that he was briefed during the Obama administration by the chief of staff of the Federal Reserve about a Chinese hack into the Chicago mercantile.
"I mean, you can't get any more aggressive than that, but there was no policy for response," said Shaffer. "When you can't even define the words that mean something and what policy to take, you cannot respond adequately. So this event while very severe and very direct, and I have every confidence in that Coast Guard report.
"We don't have a response ready to go, and this is because it's just like the political choice that multiple administrations have made. I do believe that these acts are akin to an act of war, but [we haven't] chosen to create a policy to respond."
Meanwhile, new polling shows Americans want the United States to continue its support of Ukraine, despite threats from Russian President Vladimir Putin to use nuclear weapons, but Fleitz said he wants to know when demands will be made for NATO to help more monetarily.
"We're seeing questions like that being asked by members of Congress given the state of our economy and our 401(k) portfolios going down in value," said Fleitz. "I think it's important we keep the support up for Ukraine, but we need to have our allies supporting us. But we also need to take the threat of nuclear weapons used by Putin very seriously."
Fleitz added that he's concerned about Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's comments last week that he won't engage in peace talks as long as Putin remains in office, and he has his request for NATO membership on an emergency basis heard.
"That's not helpful," Shaffer said. "Putin may have to swallow a very difficult loss here, but I think statements by Zelenskyy and [President Joe] Biden to make this worse could force him to dig in and maybe use nuclear weapons."
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Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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