Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi Introduces the KREMLIN Act to Require a National Intelligence Estimate of The Strategic Intentions of Vladimir Putin’s Regime
Washington, DC – Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi has introduced the Keeping Russian Entanglements Minimal and Limiting Intelligence Networks (KREMLIN) Act which would require the Director of National Intelligence to produce a National Intelligence Estimate on the political intentions of Vladimir Putin’s regime in the wake of its attempts to sabotage elections across the world. As Special Counsel Mueller’s team and congressional committees continue to investigate the questions of precisely what Russia did and how, the KREMLIN Act turns to the question of what goals Russia is pursuing through its cyber attacks on NATO democracies and Eastern Europe.
“The Kremlin’s efforts to sabotage our democracy and those of our allies across Europe are undeniable and in addition to investigating these activities, we must also assess Russia’s broader intentions which drive such attacks on democratic institutions,” said Congressman Krishnamoorthi. “The KREMLIN Act will meet this strategic need through producing a National Intelligence Estimate to identify the ultimate goals of Putin’s regime, just as other investigations uncover its methods.”
Congressman Krishnamoorthi’s legislation follows an extended series of sabotage efforts conducted by hackers associated with the Russian government. On September 22, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security notified 21 states that hackers associated with the Russian government had tried to gain illicit access to state election systems during the 2016 elections. In response to this, the Department of Homeland Security announced the creation of an Election Security Task Force to harden state and local election infrastructure from cyberattacks.
Russia’s attempts to sabotage the 2016 US election were neither their first nor their last against a member of the NATO alliance. During the 2017 French presidential election, Russian cyber operatives promoted propaganda against the centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron while the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen’s National Front party received an $11.7-million loan from a Russian bank in 2014, which also provided financial support to far-right political figures in Austria, Greece, Italy, and Hungary. All of this comes on the heels of the state-run Russia Today receiving $19 million from the Russian government to launch a French-language channel in December 2016.
In the recent German elections, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency accused Russia of cyberattacks and cyberespionage aimed at undermining its elections in a manner similar to that in the U.S. According to the head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service, material hacked from the German parliament and published by WikiLeaks came from the same Russian group that hacked the Democratic National Committee.
Meanwhile, the former Soviet republics are facing their own struggles with Russian interference. In Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Estonia and other nations, Russian operatives have used cyberattacks and malware to target opposition politicians and promote far-right, pro-Russia candidates. During its 2004 and 2014 elections, malware tied to Russia infected the servers in Ukraine’s central election commission, and a Russian-speaking hacker operation known as CyberBerkut compromised the election commission’s website and changed the election results to declare the far-right candidate the winner.
“The sanctity of the ballot box is a cornerstone of any free and fair electoral system,” said Congressman Krishnamoorthi. “These attacks need to be seen for what they are: an unprecedented assault on the foundations of western democracies. To combat these attacks and prevent them from causing greater damage in the future, we must comprehensively identify their goals.”