Moscow and Washington disagree over the definition of cybersecurity. The United States wants the agreement to cover only computers and networks, the technology of cybersecurity. Russia wants it to include the content that moves on the Internet, which Washington interprets as condoning censorship.
The United States signed a cybersecurity agreement last year with China.
“It’s an emotional story of Russia not being treated like a superpower and, for many of them, it’s a personal story,” said Andrey Soldatov, an expert on Russian Internet surveillance and the country’s security services.
Soldatov said the recent anti-Russia rhetoric “is quite sad, to be honest. . . . Before, only Russians spoke about interference from outside countries during elections. And now we see the use of exactly the same words from the Americans. It gives a trump card to the Russians. . . . They can say, ‘Well, you started it, and we’re just defending ourselves.’ ”
Far from worrying about retaliation, Russia’s leadership is probably enjoying the attention, said Gleb Pavlovsky, Putin’s former political strategist and now an independent political consultant out of favor with the Kremlin.
“The kinds of statements from the United States about Russian hackers make the Kremlin happy,” he said. “They show the Kremlin is capable of affecting the U.S. elections. All that’s left is for Russia to affect the stock market in New York and everything will be perfect.”