It seemed odd when the story broke Wednesday, and with time to digest what was said between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin during their visit in Geneva, Switzerland this week, many national security experts are flabbergasted by what Biden proposed to the Russian President.
On the topic of cybersecurity, quite possibly the biggest, if not one of the biggest threats the U.S. is facing, Biden gave Putin a list of 16 key infrastructure entities he described as “off-limits” to future Russian attacks.
Biden never implied what the repercussions would be Russia ignored his list, and many believe he gave Russian hackers the green light to go after anything and everything not on the list with no fear of retribution, punishment or consequences.
Here’s a quote from Biden when he talked to the press after his meeting Wednesday. ”I talked about the proposition that certain critical infrastructure should be off limits to attack — period — by cyber or any other means. I gave them a list, if I’m not mistaken — I don’t have it in front of me — 16 specific entities; 16 defined as critical infrastructure under U.S. policy, from the energy sector to our water systems.”
Not exactly text book leadership, diplomacy or show of strength. Rebecca Heinrichs is a security expert who works at the Hudson Institute. She told Fox News Biden’s actions had the opposite effect that the 78-year old probably though it would.
“As soon as you draw red circles around things you don’t want Russia to attack, you’re both telling Russia what is most valuable to you and that they can attack anything else without serious consequence.
“It could actually entice Russia to increase attacks against all the other entities besides those 16 things. We should be complicating Russia’s calculations not making them simpler and certainly not essentially green-lighting any kinds of attacks.”
Heinrichs said Biden’s gaffe goes along with his overall strategy. Instead of listing what he’d like to not be attacked, she feels the U.S. should be disrupting the Russian cybercriminals networks.
Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson called Biden’s actions “Bizarre.”
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik took it a step further. “President Biden’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed our worst fear: he is too weak to stand up to adversaries.”
Dozens of lawmakers spoke out, almost in total disbelief a sitting U.S. President would put so many American businesses, government agencies and people in danger.