Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton has confirmed that the US is engaged in offensive cyber operations abroad to show Russia and other nations that they "will pay a price" for their interference in US affairs.
Speaking at an event in Washington on Tuesday, Bolton said that last year's decision to eliminate restrictions on offensive US cyber operations was a message to US adversaries.
"The purpose of which is to say to Russia or anybody else that's engaged in cyber operations against us, 'You will pay a price if we find that you are doing this. And we will impose costs on you until you get the point that it's not worth your while to use cyber against us,'" Bolton said.
US officials have repeatedly accused Russia of engaging in malicious "cyber intrusions," with special council Robert Meuller's Russiagate report charging Russian military intelligence with hacking into the email accounts of Clinton campaign employees and the Democratic National Committee's servers during the 2016 election to disseminate their contents to try to damage the Clinton campaign. WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange have consistently denied Russian state involvement in the the DNC email dump, telling US media in late 2016 that while they could not reveal their source, "it wasn't a state party."
Russia has regularly rejected claims that it interfered in 2016 election, and has proposed international cooperation to fight common threats including hacking and fake news. Last year, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov lamented that Russian proposals in this direction had been rejected, adding that some countries seem to prefer "demonizing" Russia and Russians to cooperation.