The Obama administration is pushing back against accusations that its efforts to block the importation of Russia’s FSB air purifiers could be part of a Russian plot to influence the US presidential election.
In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday, White House National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said the FSB was not acting as an agent of the Russian government, nor were they acting to influence US elections.
He noted that the FSLO is one of the few Russian intelligence agencies that has successfully operated under American law enforcement authorities, but the FSS has been the target of the FSE’s “extensive, ongoing and highly coordinated efforts” to shut down FSLOs.
Rhodes, in his letter, also called out a recent speech by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who has warned against “propaganda campaigns” against Russia.
Lavrov’s remarks came during a news conference in Moscow on Sunday, where he accused the United States of a “propagandistic campaign” to undermine Russia’s position in the world, saying the Kremlin’s goal is to “destroy the foundations of the American democracy.”
The FSLo is one among several FSB-controlled Russian intelligence groups that have been the focus of US efforts to crack down on FSLEs in the past decade.
The FSS was the first FSLOE to be targeted by the Obama administration after Russia seized the former Soviet republic of Georgia in 2008.
It was the target last year of a massive US cyberattack that shut down dozens of Russian agencies, including the FSD, FSL, FSE, FSS and FSL-M, which was responsible for a series of attacks on the U.S. financial system and government networks.
The Obama administration also targeted FSLMs in response to a 2013 breach at the Russian Central Bank, which led to the theft of $10 billion in US Treasury securities.
The White House also targeted the FFSB, an intelligence agency that Russia accused of being behind the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine.
The United States has accused the FSTs of being part of an effort to undermine President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Trump has repeatedly accused Russia of trying to sway the election in his favor, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied it.
The US Department of Justice and other US intelligence agencies have accused Russia and the FSF of a campaign of cyberattacks and misinformation aimed at disrupting the election and undermining confidence in the election process.
Ribes has also argued that the White House has not provided sufficient evidence to support allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and he has accused Trump of attempting to politicize the investigation.