Chapter 8. Russia’s Cyber Diplomacy: A Change in Progress

April 15, 2024

Over the past two years since the start of the Special Military Operation in Ukraine Russia’s policy in the field of international information security has gone through visible changes. After having actively tried to reestablish ties with the US both at bilateral and multilateral levels Russia then shifted its focus towards non-Western countries and alliances. However, this trend is not entirely new, and in many ways, it can be characterized as business as usual whereas the mid 2021-early 2022 thaw in the relations with the US was rather an aberration than a normal albeit welcomed by many and even by the non-Western world.

A short-lived Russia-US cyber détente

To understand the subtleties of this process we should take a step back and look at the period between June 2021 and February 2022 when Moscow and Washington for the third time in previous decade had made an effort to establish cooperation in cyberspace.

The decision to start consultations on cybersecurity was one of the two main deliverables of the June 2021 Geneva Summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the US President Joe Biden (the other was a joint statement on strategic stability). At the press conference following the talks Vladimir Putin said that cybersecurity is extremely important in the world in general, the United States in particular, and to the same extent for Russia[1]. According to him, Russia had responded in depth to all US official requests about cyber incidents whereas the US had ignored all Russian enquiries. What we need to do is to discard all conspiracy theories (about cyberattacks – Author’s Note), sit down to talk at the expert level and start working in the interests of the United States and the Russian Federation, he stated.

Joe Biden was a bit more specific about what the US wanted to achieve. First, he asked his Russian counterpart to take action against criminals who (according to the US) conduct ransomware activities from the territory of Russia and harm American businesses. Second, he gave Vladimir Putin a list of specific entities defined as critical infrastructure by the US policy (16 sectors) that should be off limits and not to be targeted by cyber or other means.

Informal consultations between relevant authorities of the two countries on ransomware actually had started even before the 2021 Geneva Summit amid the disruptive cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline Company (that US authorities believed to have traced back to Russia) and the meeting of the presidents only gave them the needed impetus. Conducted at the level of high-ranking interagency teams headed by Deputy Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Oleg Khramov on the Russian side and by Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber Issues Ann Nyberger on the US side the consultations quickly produced first tangible results.

Already by September 2021 they had resumed the cooperation within the framework of the 1999 US-Russian Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (which had been basically frozen for years). As a result, missing materials began to arrive from the US which enabled the Russian authorities to start cracking down on a number of internationally active cyber groups, in particular Evil Corp., TrickBot and REvil. The communication line between the national Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) of the two countries was revived which as well allowed Moscow and Washington to exchange information about cyberattacks that were directed against the assets in one country and seemed to originate in the other[2].

These joint efforts resulted in arrests of several members of the REvil gang in January 2022. Describing the operation, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) underlined that the basis for issuing the warrant was the request of the competent authorities of the United States, who reported about the leader of this criminal community and its involvement in the encroachments on information resources of foreign high-tech companies by introducing malicious software, encrypting information, and extorting money for its decryption[3].

The first deliverables on the bilateral track were accompanied by a breakthrough in the multilateral format:  in October 2021 Russia and the US tabled a join UN General Assembly Resolution Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security[4]. This shared commitment on cybersecurity was a significant change since before that Russia and the US for years had acted as rivals in the UN promoting their own resolutions on this issue and intensely competing for votes. Interestingly most countries (especially from the so-called Global South) did not want to choose between the two and supported both the Russia – and the US – sponsored resolutions. The White House said it was “pleased with these initial actions”[5].

By co-sponsoring a joint resolution in October 2021 Russia and the US did what, according to one of the US media outlets, had been perceived by many as unthinkable[6].  The document stressed that it is in the interest of all states to promote the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) for peaceful purposes and to prevent conflicts arising from the use of those tools. It recalled that a number of states were developing ICT capabilities for military purposes and that the use of them in future interstate conflicts was becoming more likely. The resolution reaffirmed that voluntary, non-binding norms of responsible state behavior can reduce risks to international peace, security, and stability. At the same time, it noted that in the future additional binding obligations could be elaborated, if appropriate (something Russia has long advocated). Finally, it underlined that the United Nations should continue to play a leading role in promoting dialogue on the use of ICTs by states and recognized the importance of the efforts made in this direction by the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) and the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security.

The Special Envoy of the Russian President on International Information Security Andrey Krutskikh characterized this joint effort as a historic moment [7]. And while the US officials said that it overstates the significance of the resolution, the Washington Post noted that “the ice between the US and Russia may be thawing – for now”[8]. The resolution was co-sponsored by a solid 55 countries and adopted by the UN General Assembly without vote on December 8, 2021.

At that point there were faint hopes that Moscow and Washington were finally on a good path to cooperation in cyberspace. Faint but not high since this as mentioned above was the third time in a decade that the two countries had tried to engage with cyber related issues.

First attempt at bilateral cooperation in cyberspace

The first attempt was made in June-November 2013 when the presidents of the two countries after their meeting on June 17, 2013, on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Lough Erne, issued a joint statement On a New Field of Cooperation in Confidence-Building[9]. Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama recognized that the threats of the use of ICTs include political-military and criminal threats, as well as threats of a terrorist nature, and pose the most serious national and international security challenges that Russia and the US face in the 21st century. They affirmed the importance of cooperation between the two countries for the purpose of enhancing bilateral understanding in this area. They also stated that they viewed this cooperation as essential to safeguarding the security of the two countries, and to achieving security and reliability in the use of ICTs that are essential to innovation and global interoperability.

To enhance the cooperation in this field the two presidents announced the creation of several new mechanisms: a communication channel and information sharing arrangements between the CERTs of Russia and the US; an additional direct communication link between the two Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers for the purpose of facilitating the exchange of urgent communications that can reduce the risk of misperception, escalation and conflict; a direct communication link between high-level officials in the Kremlin and the White House to manage potentially dangerous situations arising from  the events that may carry security threats to or in the use of ICTs; and finally the creation (in the framework of the US-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission) of a bilateral working group on issues of threats to or in the use of ICTs in the context of international security that was to meet on a regular basis (twice a year) to consult on the issues of mutual interest and concern.
This was not the first statement and  the set of confidence-building measures agreed by two major cyber powers but it was the first time that Russia and the US had pinned down a compromise term for what Americans usually called cybersecurity (meaning confidentiality, integrity, and availability of systems, networks, and data[10]) while Russians international information security (IIS) (a broader definition that also encompasses  the content spread on the Internet). The threats to the ICTs – was the US contribution, while or in the use of ICTs was the Russian addition.

The striving for reaching such compromises proved to be short-lived. The new working group held its inaugural meeting in November 2013 in the US (Deputy Secretary of the Security Council of Russia Nikolay Klimashin and US Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniel chaired it), aiming at convening the second meeting in Russia the following year. However, these plans had not materialized because of the conflict over Ukraine that just started to erupt the Obama administration (2009-2017) put a freeze on all of the activities of the Bilateral Presidential Commission with Russia.

Missed opportunities

The second attempt to restart cooperation on cyber matters was undertaken by the two sides in July 2017 when President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart – that time around Donald Trump – met for the first time in Hamburg on the margins of G20 summit. In the wake of the meeting the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the US State Secretary Rex Tillerson announced the restart of the bilateral working group on cyber security. At the press conference concluding his visit to Germany Vladimir Putin said that Russian and US presidents had agreed to establish a working group and make joint efforts to monitor security in cyberspace, ensure full compliance with international laws in this area, and to prevent interference in the countries’ internal affairs[11]. Donald Trump confirmed that on Twitter[12]: “Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded and safe”[13].

But several influential Congressmen reacted with harsh criticism to that accusing Russian intelligence agencies of having interfered in the 2016 presidential elections in the US, and then the US delegation returned from Hamburg to Washington Donald Trump went back on his words. “The fact that President Putin and I discussed a cyber security unit doesn’t mean I think it can happen. It can’t-but a ceasefire can,& did!”, – he tweeted[14].  This inconsistency was taken by many in Moscow with bewilderment although the authorities publicly played it down[15]. Anyway, this was the shortest episode of the engagement with cyber issues between Russia and the US as it lasted just a few days.

Taking into account all these past difficulties the initial successes of the second half of 2021-early 2022 (some US experts called it a cyber détente[16]) can be characterized as a deviation from an otherwise thorny relationship where bitter historical legacy, deeply rooted mistrust and fundamentally different interests matter more than the deliverables of the cooperation in cyberspace. What is important is that both sides seemed to have much more in mind than had been achieved in those few months. President Biden as mentioned earlier proposed to talk about the protection of critical infrastructure. President Putin laid out his cyber wish list in September 2021 when Donald Trump was still in office (but Russian officials later reiterated that it was valid even after a new US administration had come in). In his statement he proposed the US to agree on a comprehensive program of practical measures to reset bilateral relations in the field of security of the ICT use[17].

Firstly, Vladimir Putin suggested to resume a regular full-scale bilateral interagency high-level dialogue on the key issues of ensuring international information security. This was not implemented in the détente period as the consultations on cybercrime could hardly be characterized as a full-scale bilateral interagency high-level dialogue on the key issues. Russia seemed to be interested in reestablishing the working group created in 2013 but the US wanted a less ambitious and less public format.

Secondly, Vladimir Putin proposed to maintain a continuous and effective functioning of the communication channels between competent agencies of the two states through Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers, with CERTs and high-level officials being in charge of the issues of international information security within the bodies involved in ensuring national security, including that of information. Those communication channels seemed to be working better in the second half of 2021, but rare public statements are not clear whether they performed as Russia was had hoped they would.

Thirdly, the Russian leader suggested to jointly develop and conclude a bilateral intergovernmental agreement on preventing incidents in the information space similarly to the US-Soviet Agreement on the Prevention of Incidents on and over the High Seas which entered into force on May 25, 1972. The idea to adapt some of the risk reduction and confidence- building measures from high seas to cyberspace had floated around for quite a long time but was mainly discussed at expert level. There is no public evidence suggesting that it was ever seriously considered by Moscow and Washington at the official level.

Fourthly, Vladimir Putin proposed to the US administration to exchange, in a mutually acceptable format, the guarantees of non-intervention into internal affairs of each other, including into electoral processes, inter alia, by means of ICTs and high-tech methods. This idea has also never been implemented or even seriously considered at the official level although the Russian authorities thought it could be of interest to the US. The US government accused Russian intelligence units of interfering into the 2016 presidential elections by cyber means (the so-called DNC-hack). And though Russian government denied any involvement they thought that it would be of mutual benefit if there were such guarantees of non-intervention. Russia proposed this several times to the US, but Washington showed no interest because, firstly, the US authorities expected Russia to admit that it had interfered in the elections; secondly, the US had never concluded such agreements with another country and did not think it was implementable and verifiable.

Appealing to all countries, including the US, Vladimir Putin also suggested to conclude a global agreement on a political commitment of all states on no-first-strike with the use of ICTs against each other. This sounded very ambitious and was actually very much in line with what President Biden later proposed in terms of putting critical infrastructure off-limits.  But Russia and the US have never really sat down to discuss these ideas in detail. The two sides exchanged the lists of infrastructure considered critical according to their national legislation. Russian officials indicated that they were especially interested in discussing the prevention of cyberattacks against military command and control systems. But that was very much as far as it got.

“We call on the US to greenlight the Russian-American professional expert dialogue on IIS without making it a hostage to our political disagreements… These measures are aimed at building up trust between our States, promoting security and prosperity of our peoples. They will significantly contribute to ensuring global peace in the information space. Addressing all countries, including the US, we suggest reaching global agreement on a political commitment of States on no-first-strike with the use of ICTs against each other”.  

Statement by President of Russia Vladimir Putin
on a Comprehensive Program of Measures
for Restoring the Russia-US Cooperation
in the Field of International Information Security
September 25, 2020
Source: Official Website of the Russian President

Nevertheless, this is exactly what happened after Russia had started its Special Military Operation in Ukraine. The US announced that no business as usual is possible in these circumstances and suspended all existing cooperation mechanisms including the consultations on cyber.

From that moment on the two countries have come back into considering each other opponents if not enemies in cyberspace. Russia accused the US of helping Ukraine’s IT army plan and direct cyberattacks against Russian infrastructure as well as conducting an information war against Moscow. The US accused Russia of attacking various civilian and military targets both in Ukraine and in the NATO countries as well as spreading disinformation on the internet. The administration introduced several rounds of sanctions against Russian individuals and entities allegedly involved in a disruptive cyber activity. Washington also warned Russia that it will “use every tool to deter, disrupt, and if necessary, respond to cyberattacks against critical infrastructure”[18]. Moscow in return warned that “nobody must have any doubt that the cyber aggression being waged against Russia will have dramatic consequences for its inspirers and operators”[19].

In September 2023, a new Special Representative to President Putin on International Cooperation on Information Security Artur Lyukmanov warned that the escalation of tensions between the United States and Russia in cyberspace threaten to spark a real-life clash between the nuclear-armed powers[20]. At the same time, it should be noted that cyberattacks have not become a decisive factor in the conflict around Ukraine, contrary to what some experts previously predicted when talking about what future wars would be. While there has been observed a continuing spike in malicious cyber activity from both sides to the conflict this seems so far to be more supplementary to traditional forms of warfare (mostly for intelligence and reconnaissance purposes and partly as a tool for spy operations) than a key factor on its own.

Russia and the US also returned to their trenches at the UN General Assembly, each pushing for its own resolution on the norms of behavior and trying to convince countries not to support the other’s proposals[21]. A return to any form of meaningful cooperation on cyber security between Russia and the US seems unlikely until the end of the conflict in and around Ukraine. 

Most notably, the two countries continue to interact at the UN not only as competitors, but shall we say as unwilling partners, particularly within the frameworks of the Open-ended Working Group on Security of and in the use of ICTs and the Ad Hoc Committee to elaborate a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of ICTs for criminal purposes. Both mechanisms were created in 2018-2019 on the proposal of Russia while the US initially did not welcome them. But over time the US has become more and more involved in the work of those platforms. The OEWG is due to report on its progress to the General Assembly in 2025, while a draft international convention on countering cybercrime is expected to be released as soon as 2024.

But overall Russia’s focus has shifted. Its cyber diplomacy has become, to reiterate it, less US-centered. Moscow is now actively working on strengthening bilateral ties and multilateral mechanisms with the states it considers friendly. These are obviously non-Western countries. In 2022, Russia signed two new intergovernmental agreements on cooperation on ensuring security in the information space – with Armenia and Azerbaijan. In 2023, Russia signed such an agreement with Zimbabwe. The signing ceremony was held in Saint Petersburg on the sidelines of the 2nd Russia-Africa Summit. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, this document provides a legal framework for practical interaction between the agencies concerned, including to counter threats in the information space and respond to computer incidents. It also offers new opportunities for building up the capacity of using ICTs, primarily, through the training of personnel, and reflects the two countries’ joint approach towards creating a fair system of international information security. Russia and African countries would strengthen bilateral cooperation in the field of cybersecurity, despite the pressure and threats coming from the West, Artur Lyukmanov told the TASS news agency[22].

Map 3. Countries that Signed Bilateral Treaties on Cooperation in International Information Security with Russia.
© Compiled by PIR Center based on the official documents published by the Russian Foreign Ministry 

Pivot to the East

Cybersecurity was also on the agenda during the three-day state visit of the President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping to Russia in March 2023. He and President Vladimir Putin issued a comprehensive Joint Statement on Deepening the Russian-Chinese Comprehensive Partnership and Strategic Cooperation for a New Era where this topic was included[23]. Its relevant paragraph reads that the two countries oppose the militarization of information and communication technologies, restrictions on their development and cooperation in this area; they support the creation of a multilateral, equitable and transparent global Internet governance system while ensuring the sovereignty and security of all countries in this area[24]. Russia and China also welcomed the activities of the UN OEWG as the only process within the UN in the field of international information security[25]. They believe that it is necessary to develop new norms of responsible behavior of states in the information space, in particular, to adopt a universal international legal document. The Russian concept of the convention on international information security and the Chinese Global Data Security Initiative will – according to this statement – make a significant contribution to its development. Besides, Russia and China have voiced their support for the work of the UN committee on the development of a comprehensive international convention on countering cybercrime.

This short paragraph is full of meaningful references. Russia for years had been promoting an international norm that would proclaim cyberspace a demilitarized domain, but the US and their allies considered this unrealistic since most advanced countries were already developing both offensive and defensive cyber capabilities. What they came up with was a compromise that was put on paper in the 2015 Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security (UN GGE) report.

“Consistent with the purposes of the United Nations, including to maintain international peace and security, states should cooperate in developing and applying measures to increase stability and security in the use of ICTs and to prevent ICT practices that are acknowledged to be harmful or that may pose threats to international peace and security”. 

Note by the Secretary General
Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and
Telecommunications in the Context of International Security

July 22, 2015
 United Nations Digital Library

By saying that Russia and China oppose the militarization of information and communication technologies. The two countries have once again underscored their peaceful intentions (although, of course, both of them have advanced military cyber capabilities). By adding the provision that they also oppose restrictions on their development and cooperation in this area they obviously mean the US-imposed sanctions against the technology sectors of both Russia and China.
By saying that they support the creation of amultilateral, equitable and transparent global Internet governance system while ensuring the sovereignty and security of all countries in this area Russia and China first of all underline that the worldwide web should be governed by an intergovernmental body (like the International Telecommunications Union, ITU), not by a nongovernmental organization (like the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN) that they believe to be too close to the US government. The emphasis on sovereignty and security is not accidental here as both Russia and China believe that governments should have control over their sovereign parts of the Internet (vs the borderless space concept promoted by the Western countries) and be able to take all necessary steps to make this space secure in all aspects (something that the Western countries consider censorship).

When Russia and China say that they welcome the activities of the UN OEWG as the only process within the UN in the field of international information security they make reference to the US that has been until recently promoting the UN GGE. And when they stress that they support a universal international legal convention with norms of responsible behavior of states in the information space they also put themselves in opposition to the US who generally rejects the idea of a legally binding document.

The cooperation between Russia and China is one of the driving forces of the discussion on cyber issues within BRICS that has dealt with this topic since at least 2011. During a high-level meeting in July of 2023 in this format in South Africa (Russia was represented by the Secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev) the five countries agreed to make cybersecurity a crucial element of cooperation. But, although this topic is mentioned in almost every BRICS declaration since 2011 and its members seem to have reached an alignment on many of its aspects, so far there haven’t been many practical deliverables in the cyber domain that the group could have made. On the initiative of Russia BRICS established a working group on ICT cooperation. There is a BRICS Roadmap of Practical Cooperation on ensuring security in the use of ICTs. There are also several mechanisms within the group that tackle cybersecurity issues in one way or the other (BRICS Digital Partnership, the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution, the Innovation BRICS Network, and the BRICS Institute of Future Networks). But all the BRICS countries, including those which joined the group in January 2024, yet have to come up with a tangible joint initiative in cyberspace.

Global Majority on the rise

Largely overlapping interests and approaches in this area actually create a fertile ground for such initiatives. The like-mindedness of the five members on cyber issues was once again demonstrated during the September 2023 meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations on the margins of the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly (Russia was represented by the head of its Foreign Ministry Sergey Lavrov). It was said in the media statement that the Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the promotion of an open, secure, stable, accessible, and peaceful ICT-environment, underscored the importance of enhancing common understandings and intensifying cooperation in the use of ICTs and Internet[26]. They supported the leading role of the United Nations in promoting constructive dialogue on ensuring ICT-security, including within the UN OEWG, and developing a universal legal framework in this realm. They called for a “comprehensive, balanced, objective approach to the development and security of ICT products and systems” and underscored the importance of establishing “legal frameworks of cooperation among BRICS countries on ensuring security in the use of ICTs”[27]. They also acknowledged “the need to advance practical intra-BRICS cooperation” through the mechanisms mentioned above. While emphasizing the formidable potential of ICTs for growth and development, they recognized the existing and emerging possibilities they allow for criminal activities and threats and expressed concern over the increasing level and complexity of criminal misuse of ICTs. In this sense, the five ministers “welcomed the ongoing efforts in the Ad Hoc Committee to elaborate a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of ICTs for criminal purposes”[28] that was initiated by Russia.

But when, for example, Russia in May 2023 submitted the draft of a new Concept of the UN Convention on Ensuring International Information Security as an official document of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, it did it jointly with Belarus, North Korea, Nicaragua, and Syria as co-sponsors. This document was seen by Moscow as a prototype of a universal legally binding instrument that would ensure stability and security in the global information space. Russian Foreign Ministry underlined that the concept of the convention “is based on the principles of sovereign equality of states and non-interference in their internal affairs”, and “is aimed at prevention and settlement of conflicts, establishment of interstate cooperation, including on building capacities of the developing countries in the field of information security”[29]. The Ministry added that Russia and the co-sponsors “are ready to further discuss the language of the document and take into account possible suggestions and comments”[30]. Russia called on its foreign partners “to join the initiative in the interest of building a fair and comprehensive system of international information security”[31].

But the rest of the BRICS members are not yet ready to sign up to this initiative, although they generally support the idea of the need to develop such a convention at the UN level, with China, for example, earlier co-authoring a similar proposal with Russia within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)[32]. One explanation for lack of big joint BRICS initiatives on cybersecurity could be that Brazil, India and South Africa have a much more relaxed approach to content regulation than Russia and China. They are also less inclined to promote ideas that have a big chance to be perceived in the West as a red rag due to an emphasis on tighter government control over the Internet, the idea of sovereign segments of the web and the prioritization of security over openness and interconnection. The fight against cybercrime is also an area of overlapping and divergent approaches as, for example, South Africa is a member of the Budapest convention of the Council of Europe that Russia is trying to replace with a new universal document.

Nevertheless, as the group’s significance is rising, cyber security could be one of the areas where its members – if ready for compromise and convergence – could demonstrate global leadership. Any initiative in cyberspace co-authored by all five states would attract attention and have high chances of giving the impulse to a substantive discussion at the least. An intergovernmental agreement on cybersecurity between all the BRICS members would also significantly enhance their cooperation in this area and show their willingness to transform the loose structure of the group into a real alliance. In any case, the Russian diplomacy has a lot to work on in the coming years. 

It will be interesting to see whether this work will concentrate mostly on the countries considered friendly or also on the non-friendly ones. On the example of other spheres ( such as the Artic) we have seen that the total freeze in cooperation between Russia and  the Western states (introduced by the later in the aftermath of February 2022) begins to thaw as Moscow’s former partners realize that some threats require common action that cannot wait until the conflict in Ukraine is over, or as they are confronted with the risks of losing useful mechanisms all together (for example the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE).

Another reason to try to engage opponents is clearly risk reduction. Special Representative to President Putin on International Cooperation on Information Security Arthur Lyukmanov rightly pointed out in his September 2023 interview with the Newsweek magazine that even with the US-Russia relations sinking to further depths, the right way to prevent escalation is to engage in dialogue[33].

“There is little doubt that eventually common sense will prevail among other governments, including the US, when it comes to the need for prevention of a conflict situation with an unpredictable outcome as a result of a transborder and anonymous computer attack… All countries are vulnerable to threats in information space, whether they have Silicon Valley or not… That’s the nature of data which, like water, will always find a weak spot in ICTs… Our task is to prevent such leaks from turning to stormy streams, a hurricane beyond category”. 

Arthur Lyukmanov in an interview for Newsweek
September 7, 2023
Source: Newsweek

We tend to agree with the experienced high-ranking diplomat, but the situation might also be the opposite. Just like the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 made Moscow and Washington start negotiating on arms control, a catastrophic cyber incident (or the threat of one) might make the major powers look for compromises and cooperation. Such a scenario is apparently better.

[1] Пресс-конференция по итогам российско-американских переговоров // Официальный сайт Президента России, 16 июня 2021 г. URL:

[2] Черненко Е. Ось против зла // ИД Коммерсантъ, 29 сентября 2021 г. URL:

[3] Пресечена противоправная деятельность членов организованного преступного сообщества // Федеральная служба безопасности, 14 января 2022 г. URL:

[4] Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security: Draft Resolution // United Nations Digital Library, October 8, 2021. URL:

[5] Background Press Call by a Senior Administration Official on Cybersecurity // The White House Briefing Room, January 14, 2022. URL:

[6] The US and Russia Might Finally Be Making a Tiny Bit of Progress on Cybersecurity // Slate Group, November 11, 2021. URL:

[7] Черненко Е. Двоичный кодекс // ИД Коммерсантъ, 17 октября 2021 г. URL:

[8] Ignatius D. The Ice between the US and Russia May be Thawing – for Now // The Washington Post, October 19, 2021. URL:

[9] Joint Statement by Presidents of the United States of America and the Russian Federation on a New Field of Cooperation in Confidence Building // Official Website of the Russian President, June 17, 2013. URL:

[10] Sherman J. The US and Russia Might Finally Be Making a Tiny Bit of Progress on Cybersecurity // Slate Group, November 11, 2021. URL:

[11] Пресс-конференция по итогам саммита «Группы двадцати» // Официальный сайт Президента России, 8 июля 2017 г. URL:

[12] Twitter is included in the list of websites that have been blocked in Russia. – Editor’s Note.

[13] Trump Says Discussed Forming Cyber Security Unit with Putin // Reuters, July 9, 2017.

[14] Trump Backs Away from Working with Russia on Cybersecurity // The Guardian, July 10, 2017.

[15] Черненко Е. Москва твитам не верит // ИД Коммерсантъ, 10 июля 2017 г. URL:

[16] Cyber Detente and the Biden-Putin Summit: What this Meant for Cyber Relations between the USA and Russia // GIP Digital Watch. URL:

[17] Statement by President of Russia Vladimir Putin on a Comprehensive Program of Measures for Restoring the Russia – US Cooperation in the Field of International Information Security // Official Website of the Russian President, September 25, 2020. URL:

[18] Statement by President Biden on our Nation’s Cybersecurity // The White House Briefing Room, March 21, 2022. URL:

[19] Russian Foreign Ministry Statement on Continued Cyberattack by the “collective West” // Russian Foreign Ministry, March 29, 2022. URL:

[20] Russia Warns “All-Out War” with US Could Erupt Over Worsening Cyber Clashes // Newsweek, September 7, 2023. URL:

[21] Черненко Е. Манхэттенские проекты // ИД Коммерсантъ, 7 ноября 2022 г. URL:

[22] В МИД РФ заявили об укреплении сотрудничества в кибербезопасности с Африкой // ТАСС, 28 июля 2023 г. URL:

[23] See: Russian-Chinese Talks // Official Website of the Russian President, March 21, 2023. URL:;  Совместное заявление Российской Федерации и Китайской Народной Республики об углублении отношений всеобъемлющего партнёрства и стратегического взаимодействия, вступающих в новую эпоху // Официальный сайт Президента России, 21 марта 2023 г. URL:

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Media Statement Following the Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations on the Margins of the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, 20 September 2023 // Russian Foreign Ministry, September 20, 2023. URL:

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Press-Release on the Concept of the UN Convention on International Information Security // Russian Foreign Ministry, May 16, 2023. URL:

[30] Ibid.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Press Release on the SCO Member States’ Initiative Titled, “The Code of Conduct for International Information Security” // Russian Foreign Ministry, January 29, 2015. URL:

[33] Russia Warns “All-Out War” with US Could Erupt Over Worsening Cyber Clashes // Newsweek, September 7, 2023. URL:

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