Intelligence Chiefs Warn of Russian Troops Near Ukraine and Other Threats

WASHINGTON — The Russian army buildup on the Ukraine border and in Crimea might present sufficient forces for a restricted army incursion, the C.I.A. director, William J. Burns, instructed senators on Wednesday as he and different senior officers outlined a spread of threats dealing with the United States.

Russia might merely be sending a sign to the United States or attempting to intimidate the Ukrainian authorities, but it surely had the skills in place to do extra, Mr. Burns instructed the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“That buildup has reached the point that it could provide the basis for a limited military incursion, as well,” Mr. Burns mentioned. “It is something not only the United States but our allies have to take very seriously.”

Mr. Burns testified alongside Avril D. Haines, the director of nationwide intelligence, and different officers about an array of threats from international powers like Russia and China in addition to challenges which were much less of a spotlight of intelligence companies prior to now, together with home extremism and local weather change.

In its annual threat assessment report, launched Tuesday forward of the listening to, the intelligence neighborhood mentioned that China’s push for international energy posed a menace to the United States by its aggression in its area, its growth of its surveillance skills and its makes an attempt to dominate technological advances.

Russia has additionally pushed for a sphere of affect that features international locations that had been half of the Soviet Union, like Ukraine, the report mentioned.

Both China and Russia, nonetheless, wished to keep away from direct confrontation with the United States, the report mentioned.

Mr. Burns mentioned the Russian actions have prompted inner briefings in addition to consultations with allies. President Biden’s name on Tuesday to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was meant to “register very clearly the seriousness of our concern,” Mr. Burns mentioned.

The United States has been monitoring the Russian troops for a while, a minimum of since late March. American officers have mentioned privately that the Russians have achieved little to cover their troop buildup, in contrast to in 2014 once they first attacked Ukraine. That has satisfied some, however not all, officers briefed on the intelligence that the Russian actions could also be principally for present.

“They could actually be going into a series of exercises starting anytime, or they could, if they chose to, perhaps do a limited objective attack,” mentioned Lt. Gen. Scott D. Berrier, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. “We don’t know what the intent is, right now.”

Both Russia and China have been blamed for conducting cyberoperations that compromised broad sections of the software program provide chain. Lawmakers requested Ms. Haines and Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, the director of the National Security Agency, in regards to the Russian hacking, which penetrated nine federal agencies, and one other by China that compromised Microsoft Exchange servers. The Biden administration is predicted to reply to the Russian hacking quickly.

Ms. Haines mentioned Russia used hackings to sow discord and threaten the United States and its allies. “Russia is becoming increasingly adept at leveraging its technological prowess to develop asymmetric options in both the military and cyberspheres in order to give itself the ability to push back and force the United States to accommodate its interests,” she mentioned.

Lawmakers additionally raised the difficulty of a series of mysterious episodes which have injured diplomats and C.I.A. officers abroad. Some former officers consider Russia is behind the episodes, which they’ve referred to as assaults.

Mr. Burns mentioned he was working together with his colleagues to make sure higher medical look after C.I.A. officers. He additionally mentioned he was working to “get to the bottom of the question of what caused these incidents and who might have been responsible.”

Questions on China dominated the sooner Senate affirmation hearings for Ms. Haines and Mr. Burns, and lawmakers once more pressed on Wednesday for assessments on China and its efforts to steal American know-how. Ms. Haines outlined how China makes use of technological may, financial affect and different levers of energy to intimidate its neighbors.

“China is employing a comprehensive approach to demonstrate its growing strength and compel regional neighbors to acquiesce to Beijing’s preferences,” she instructed senators.

The F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, additionally emphasised the menace from China. “We’re opening a new investigation into China every 10 hours,” he mentioned of the bureau, “and I can assure the committee that’s not because our folks don’t have anything to do with their time.”

Biden administration officers have mentioned that they need the intelligence companies to take a wider view of nationwide safety threats.

Ms. Haines famous that another recent intelligence report, on global trends, highlighted how the coronavirus pandemic and local weather change, together with technological change, had been testing “the resilience and adaptability” of society. The “looming disequilibrium,” she mentioned, compels intelligence companies to broaden their definition of nationwide safety.

But a minimum of one lawmaker, Senator Richard M. Burr, Republican of North Carolina, additionally requested a extra sensible query: How many intelligence officers have acquired coronavirus vaccines?

Mr. Burns mentioned 80 p.c of the C.I.A. work power was totally vaccinated and one other 10 p.c have had their first shot. He mentioned all C.I.A. officers serving abroad “have the vaccine available to them directly.”

Mr. Wray was unable to offer an estimate of what number of of his brokers had acquired a shot, saying that the vaccination charges various in subject places of work in numerous states. Ms. Haines mentioned 86 p.c of her work power had had a minimum of one shot, with a “fair percentage” being totally vaccinated. General Nakasone additionally had no estimate however mentioned a vaccination heart had been arrange at Fort Meade, Md., the place the National Security Agency’s headquarters is.

Lawmakers have additionally been urgent intelligence companies to assist look at the issue of home extremism. Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia and the chairman of the intelligence committee, linked the rise of home extremism to the identical developments selling disinformation produced by Russia and others. And he mentioned he wished the intelligence chiefs to stipulate how they may assist present higher warnings of potential violence just like the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol.

Social media has helped disinformation from home extremist teams unfold with extra pace and effectivity than ever earlier than — a lot the identical as Russia and different nations have used it to unfold falsehoods, Mr. Wray mentioned.

“Social media has become, in many ways, the key amplifier to domestic violence extremism, just as it has for malign foreign influence,” he mentioned. “There is all sorts of stuff out there on the internet that poses as facts, which just isn’t.”

The isolation attributable to the pandemic, Mr. Wray continued, had elevated the general public’s susceptibility.

The intelligence chiefs’ listening to was the primary since early 2019, once they contradicted President Donald J. Trump’s rosier public statements, prompting Mr. Trump to criticize his appointees publicly, telling them to “go back to school.” Mr. Trump’s final director of nationwide intelligence, John Ratcliffe, selected to not launch a menace evaluation or testify earlier than Congress final yr.

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