U.S. Intelligence Chair Warns Russia Cyberattacks Have No Border Boundaries

Virginia Senator Mark Warner, who serves as the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, recently warned that potential Russian cyberattacks will have no border boundaries.

"The two gravest immediate concerns I have is if Russia launches its full cyberattacks further against Ukraine, those cyberattacks, once you unleash them, [they have] no geographic boundary," Warner said during an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe on Thursday. "We've already had reports that some of the cyberattacks launched against Ukraine have had results already in Latvia and Lithuania."

Warner continued, "And I do expect you'll see, later today from the president, serious, serious sanctions, including sanctions from all our allies. And again we can then see [Russian President Vladimir] Putin actually launch cyberattacks directly against the West and against the United States."

The comments by Warner come shortly after Putin announced that he was launching a "special military operation" in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelenskyy declared martial law on Wednesday night, but in a video to residents, he said, "We are ready for everything. We will defeat everyone. Because we are Ukraine."

Shortly after Putin announced the military operation, several videos showed Russian military helicopters flying over Ukraine and explosions were seen in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

On Wednesday, Warner made similar comments during an interview with Axios where he said, "If you unleash not one, but five, or 10, or 50, or 1,000 [cyberattacks] at Ukraine, the chances of that staying within the Ukrainian geographic border is quite small."

"It could spread to America, could spread to the U.K., but the more likely effect will be spreading to adjacent geographic territory ... [such as] Poland," Warner told Axios. "Putin's been pretty clear that one of the first tools he would use to bring economic harm to NATO and America is cyber."

According to the Associated Press, Ukraine's defense, foreign and interior ministries websites experienced a distributed-denial-of-service, making them all slow to load on Thursday morning.

Earlier this week, Newsweek obtained an FBI report that warned private businesses in the U.S. of potential cyberattacks launched by Russia amid the growing tensions.

"The FBI Cyber Division, in coordination with the FBI's Office of Private Sector (OPS), prepared this LIR to inform the private sector about the threat of Russian state-sponsored advanced persistent threat (APT) cyber activities, while tensions with Russia are heightened," the report, obtained by Newsweek said. "Historically, Russian state-sponsored APT cyber activities increase when tensions are high with Russia."

Newsweek reached out to Warner for further comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

On Wednesday night, U.S. President Joe Biden called Putin's actions "unprovoked and unjustified," and he said that the U.S. will "coordinate with our NATO Allies to ensure a strong, united response that deters any aggression against the Alliance."

Senator Mark Warner
Senator Mark Warner,warned on Thursday that potential Russian cyberattacks have no border boundaries and could reach the U.S. Above, Warner does a television interview before the start of the Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner on November 2, 2021, in McLean, Virginia. Drew Angerer/Getty