WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner on Monday said he saw no “immediate threat” within Russia to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government.
Speaking in a Washington Post online interview, Warner also said he expected Putin to intensify cyberattacks as the Russian leader presses his invasion of Ukraine.
Warner noted that there have been small anti-war protests in Russia, intensifying pressure from international sanctions on oligarchs in league with Putin, and some Russian sports and arts figures speaking out against the offensive on Ukraine.
“I don’t think there’s any immediate threat to this regime now,” he continued. “But as we’ve seen — and I’m not trying to make some comparisons to the activities that took place with long-term authoritarian regimes in the Middle East — but in the information age this can get out of hand very quickly.”
Warner said that while he expected Russia to “up its game” with major cyberattacks, he believed the Russian leader had miscalculated because he has held back his most experienced cyber teams and hacking tools.
“Once you put a cyber tool out there and it’s discovered, it’s hard to be reused,” Warner said. “Should we expect more? Absolutely. I think he’s (Putin) been reserving. He may have to use that A team to … continue his invasion of Ukraine.”
(Reporting by Jonathan Landay and Moira Warburton; editing by Jonathan Oatis)