U.S. 'Cautions' Azerbaijan and Other Countries Against Entering Into Cybersecurity Agreement with Russia

Washington on Wednesday expressed 'caution' against cybersecurity agreements that Russia is reportedly intending to sign with a number of countries, including with Azerbaijan, TURAN's U.S. correspondent reports.

"To put it mildly, the Russian Federation has not proved itself to be a responsible actor in cyberspace. So we would certainly caution countries against entering into such agreements" State Department spokesperson Ned Price told TURAN'a correspondent during the department's daily briefing, when asked about Moscow's plans to sign cybersecurity agreements with Azerbaijan, Serbia and Tajikistan.

Russia last week announced its intention to sign with Azerbaijan - as well as with other countries - an interconnection of cooperation in cybersecurity, local media reported citing Oleg Khramov, deputy secretary of the Security Council of Russia.

The U.S. and UK early this week accused Moscow of spreading disinformation online and manipulating public opinion, and vehemently rejecting Russian claims that the West is aiming to control all information flows and define what is true or not true.

Britain’s deputy ambassador James Roscoe told a U.N. Security Council meeting on the use of digital technologies in maintaining peace that Russia has conducted cyberattacks and used “an online troll factory to spread disinformation and manipulate public opinion about their war.”

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on Monday the Russian government “continues to shut down, restrict and degrade internet connectivity, censor content, spread disinformation online, and intimidate and arrest journalists for reporting the truth about its invasion.”

During yesterday's briefing State Department's Ned Price also spoke about the current state of press freedom in Russia as well as President Putin’s "efforts to manipulate even further the information environment to suppress the truth, to keep from his people the true motivations, the true costs, the true consequences of this war have made the operating environment for journalists in Russia even more difficult," as he put it.

"... We have seen Russian media outlets have to shutter their operations. We have seen journalists forced to flee Russia. We have also seen – and you referenced a couple cases – journalists who have been thrown behind bars for their persistence in doing nothing but peacefully continuing to perform their indispensable function, a function that is indispensable inside Russia and a function that is indispensable for those of us living and viewing this from afar," Price said in response to TURAN's questions.

"It is our goal to do everything we can responsibly to see to it that the information environment in Russia is not further constrained" he added.

"That’s precisely why we have urged stakeholders around the world not to enact so-called internet blackouts on Russia, to keep information flowing to Russia, to keep the internet free and open and interoperable within Russia itself. Now, of course, this is very challenging for any country to do given the fact that the Kremlin really does have a tight grip on the information flow, but we will continue to do what we can to support Russian journalists, to support Russian media organizations that are attempting to do their work, whether they are now located outside of Russia or to those who are remaining inside Russia," Price concluded.

Karen Donfried, assistant secretary of State yesterday met with a leading Russian journalist and Nobel Laureate Dmitry Muratov at the State Department.

Alex Raufoglu

Washington D.C.

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