Psaki Denies Report That Biden Was Presented with Options for Cyberattacks against Russia

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., January 18, 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday denied recent reporting that President Biden had been presented with options to disrupt Russia’s Ukraine invasion with massive cyberattacks.

“This report on cyber options being presented to @POTUS is off base and does not reflect what is actually being discussed in any shape or form,” Psaki wrote in a tweet.

This report on cyber options being presented to @POTUS is off base and does not reflect what is actually being discussed in any shape or form.

— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) February 24, 2022

The comment came after NBC News reported earlier on Thursday that Biden had been “presented with a menu of options for the U.S. to carry out massive cyberattacks designed to disrupt Russia’s ability to sustain its military operations in Ukraine.”

NBC News cited two U.S. intelligence officials, one Western intelligence official and another person briefed on the matter who said no final decisions had been made, but that U.S. intelligence and military cyber warriors are “proposing the use of American cyberweapons on a scale never before contemplated.”

Three of the sources told the outlet that options for cyberattacks include disrupting internet connectivity across Russia, cutting off electric power, and tampering with railroad switches to hinder Russia’s ability to resupply its forces. The measures would be intended to disrupt, not destroy.

Meanwhile, Biden unveiled new sanctions on Russian banks Thursday afternoon in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Biden noted that while the U.S. had previously cut off Russia’s largest bank from the U.S. financial system, that he would now be blocking four more major banks.

“We’ve now sanctioned Russian banks that together hold around $1 trillion in assets,” Biden told reporters at the White House.

However, Biden has not followed through on his threats to sanction Russian President Vladimir Putin directly. Despite Ukrainian requests, Russia has also not been disconnected from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT system, which is managed by the National Bank of Belgium and hosts a large share of international business transactions.

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