Does Russia constitute a threat to the West?

US and British intelligence services accuse the Russian military of stealing email addresses and information
Kaseya's website is seen through a magnifying glass in front of a binary code shown in this illustration.

REUTERS/DADO RUVIC  -   Kaseya's website is seen through a magnifying glass in front of a binary code shown in this illustration

Washington has repeatedly accused Russia of election interference and cyber attacks. However, President Vladimir Putin points out that "these are just unfounded accusations". Despite this, Russia is currently subject to sanctions for its 'cyber espionage campaigns, attempts to influence elections and other aggressions'.

As recently as Wednesday 7 July, the US company Kaseya suffered cyber-attacks that have affected more than 1,500 international companies, including schools and kindergartens (New Zealand). The cybersecurity company, Huntress Labs, described the attack as "colossal and devastating", although it caused "minimal damage" to the United States, according to President Joe Biden.

The Russian-linked REvil group is blamed for the attack. Despite the lack of certainty regarding the attribution of the attack to Putin, "White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that if the Russian government is unable or unwilling to take action against criminal actors residing in Russia, they will take action or reserve the right to act on their own". (Atalayar)

"Despite Moscow's statements that it intends to disassociate itself from the cyberattack, this event could further strain US-Russian relations.

El presidente de EEUU, Joe Biden, llega a la Casa Blanca el 7 de julio de 2021, a su regreso de Illinois para promover sus planes económico
AFP/NICHOLAS KAMM - US President Joe Biden arrives at the White House on July 7, 2021, on his return from Illinois to promote his economic plans.

In addition to this recent attack on 1 July, US and British intelligence services accuse the Russian military of stealing email addresses and information, which affected agencies around the world, but especially parliaments in European countries. The same group intervened during the 2016 US presidential election campaign, according to the BBC.

The latest scene involving Russia took place yesterday, 8 July. Pedro Sánchez was visiting Spanish troops stationed at the NATO air base in Šiauliai, Lithuania. The press conference of the Spanish Prime Minister and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda was interrupted due to the presence of two Russian Su-24 aircraft flying over the site. 

The seriousness of this event was the violation of the Baltic Republic's airspace by Russian troops, which is a frequent occurrence. After sending two Spanish fighter jets to search for the Russian aircraft, the meeting continued a few minutes later without incident.

Ciberataques notables desde 2006
AFP/AFP - Notable cyber attacks since 2006
NATO as the West's "lifeline" in the face of the Russian "threat"

Following the Russian warning shots fired at the British destroyer HMS Defender, the armies of other NATO member states have begun military exercises in the Black Sea in the Sea Breeze 2021 mission. Participating countries include Japan, Spain, Israel, Italy, France, Morocco and Italy. For the US, the large number of participants in the exercise demonstrates the "shared commitment to ensuring free access to international waters". (Atalayar).

In addition to electronic clashes, the US has joined operations in this region, which since the Ukraine crisis has become a focus of tensions between NATO and Russia. Especially after the incident between Russia and the UK off the coast of Crimea. The British ship had sailed up to three kilometres through Russian-claimed waters and had been intimidated by Russian troops after being warned that weapons would be used if it crossed the Russian border.

The Black Sea separates the two regions, lapping the shores of several NATO members, including Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey. It is therefore a meeting point between Russian and Western troops. According to Mark Simakovsky of the Atlantic Council, this sea "creates the potential for an explosion in tension between the United States and Russia".

Sistemas informáticos de cientos de empresas en los Estados Unidos y alrededor de 1.500 empresas en todo el mundo fueran pirateados por el grupo "Rival"
REUTERS/KACPER PEMPEL - Computer systems of hundreds of companies in the United States and around 1,500 companies worldwide were hacked by the "REvil" group.
"The never-ending story" between Russia and the United States

The relationship between these two countries shows a conflictive situation that constantly feeds back on itself. On the one hand, Russia does not cease its cyber campaigns to destabilise Western countries and its Eastern European neighbours. On the other hand, NATO member states, led by the United States, respond to Russian threats by supporting and defending member states, especially the Baltic republics - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - including the Eastern European countries of Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Moreover, following the accession of the latest member, North Macedonia, in March 2020 to the Atlantic Organisation, Georgia is a potential future member of the organisation. This country "became an aspirant in 2017 and since then has developed joint manoeuvres with countries of the organisation. Moreover, as EFE points out, more than 70% of the country's citizens support NATO membership, and even more so after the Russian-Georgian war of 2008".

 Pie de foto: Combinación de imágenes que muestra al presidente de Estado Unidos Joe Biden y al presidente ruso Vladimir Putin
AFP/JIM WATSON/GRIGORY DUKOR - Combination of images showing US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

However, Russia does not welcome this rapprochement as it would mean further NATO interference in the Black Sea, which, as discussed above, is a strategic location between the two regions.

Despite this constant uncertainty regarding relations between Russia and the countries of Europe, including its "proxy", the United States, both political leaders, Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, hold meetings at times of heightened tension that restore diplomatic relations, or rather, lower the unrelenting tensions: Ukraine, Belarus, Russian manoeuvres in the Arctic, the imprisonment of opposition figure Alexei Navalny, cyber-attacks and Russian interference in elections, among many other issues.