Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday publicly commended his country’s SVR foreign intelligence service for its work protecting Moscow’s interests. Many American officials and security experts believe the same Russian spy agency is responsible for a massive cyberattack on the U.S., the full extent of which is still being determined.
In comments marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the SVR, Mr. Putin made no mention of the attack, for which Russia has publicly denied responsibility. But he thanked the intelligence service and praised the “professional operations” it has carried out.
“I know what I’m talking about here,” Mr. Putin said, as quoted by Reuters. “And I rate very highly the difficult professional operations that have been conducted.”
Mr. Putin also said the intelligence service must pay close attention to conflicts near Russia’s borders and defend against terrorist plots.
“I expect that the foreign intelligence service will continue to respond flexibly to the highly changeable international context, actively participating in identifying and neutralising potential threats to Russia, and improving the quality of its analytical materials,” he said.
On Saturday, President Trump seemed to downplay the hack and its impact on the federal government. Mr. Trump also said China might have been behind the attack, casting doubt on Russia’s involvement despite a growing consensus in Washington that Moscow was involved.
Even Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the weekend said officials believe Russia “pretty clearly” was behind the hack.