As the Russians from the time of Chernomyrdin in the late 1990s loved to say: “this time it will be different!” The follow-on, as Kremlin observers know very well was: “but it turned out just as always!” That endeared the otherwise gray prime minister to the people just the same way as Yogi Berra’s contorted English gave everyone a nice belly laugh.
However, yesterday, in a live interview with Russia Today’s Moscow studio that must have reached the East Coast at 6.30 am, too early for even the handful of people who might have been interested to be tuned in, I was given the opportunity to say loud and clear that I believe this time it was different. Namely, yes, the Russians probably did do the hacking.
The RT folks may have been shocked out of their skins that a certified “friend” like me could say this, but when they tuned into Euronews this morning they’d have found that my conclusion from this identification of the Russians was right on the money: there will likely be no sanctions against the Russians over this because the overriding message of the hacking, the purpose of the whole exercise, apart from possibly stealing information about the actual numbers of US warheads in inventory to be used in any upcoming START negotiations, was to demonstrate capability of utterly destroying the United States in any war that Washington might be foolish enough to provoke.
In this sense, it aligns completely with a couple of statements that Putin made in his annual press conference on Thursday which I think not too many people in the West picked up on. First, when asked if it was true that Russia could obliterate the USA in 30 minutes, he said “No, quicker still.” And when asked about the alleged poisoning of Navalny with Novichok by Russian agents, he said ‘if our security offices wanted to kill Navalny, they would have succeeded.”
The latter point is most relevant to this hacking. The allegations of Russian hacking made by the United States in the heat of Russia-gate were frivolous, appropriate to toddlers in a sandbox. Leaving fingerprints all over the supposed theft over the internet to get at Hillary’s communications and tip the election in Trump’s favor. Only a fool would think that the Kremlin operates at this level. And, as we know, there are plenty of fools in the USA, though it appears a disproportionate number of them are in the Democratic Party and its thought leaders like Chuck Schumer of New York and Rick Blumenthal of Connecticut.
This hacking was of a different scale and different nature entirely. It was massive. It had no friendly or other bear tags put on by the Ukrainians. It went straight for the jugular, the most secret and sensitive corners of the US government. And it apparently was not destructive, did nothing that could trigger a war, just make a point: gotcha!
©Gilbert Doctorow, 2020