Vladimir Putin may be spying on the U.S. and Britain even more intensely than critics of the Russian leader suspected. Putin’s spy planes are currently flying over Britain, according to The Sun, and American intelligence officials believe Putin may be behind the Democratic National Committee hack that disgraced Hillary Clinton recently.
The New York Times reports that US intelligence officials have high confidence that Putin’s government was behind the hack of the DNC computer systems.
The emails were released by WikiLeaks and widely reported as a disaster for Hillary Clinton. Assange says that more leaks are coming, and they could lead to Hillary Clinston’s indictment.
Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, made it clear that he hoped the leaks would damage Hillary Clinton’s reputation and chances of winning the presidency, according to Yahoo.
What did Putin hope to achieve with his hack? The New York Times reports that the hack may have been “an effort [by Putin] to manipulate the 2016 presidential election.”
President Obama and his national security aides [are faced] with a difficult diplomatic and political decision: whether to publicly accuse the government of President Vladimir V. Putin of engineering the hacking.
Campaign officials have suggested that Putin could be trying to secure a Donald Trump presidency by damaging Hillary Clinton. However, the Times reports that the officials “acknowledge that they have no evidence.”
John Podesta, the chairman of the Clinton campaign, said that Russia has a “history” of interfering in European elections, but such activity would be “unprecedented in the United States.”
Hillary’s man also remarked that Trump and Putin have expressed admiration for each other in the past. Podesta dubbed Putin and Trump’s relationship a “bromance.”
“Well, he certainly has a bromance with Mr. Putin, so I don’t know.”
Meanwhile, The Sun is reporting with horror that the Putin government is flying strategic reconnaissance missions over the UK, and “the Ministry of Defence is absolutely fine with it.”
The report notes that Putin is allowed to fly his spy planes under the “Open Skies” treaty. The “Open Skies” agreement was originally conceived during the Cold War, with the goal of allowing the U.S. and USSR to observe one another’s preparations for nuclear war. It was hoped that “Open Skies” would lower the threat of an escalation and a devastating nuclear clash.
A range of other nations, including Britain, Russia, and a number of NATO and former Soviet countries came on board, signing the agreement in 2002.
The treaty allows any signatory to request pictures form the latest overflight of any other country as a deterrent to member states setting up new missile stations or nuclear enrichment plants.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman explained the benefit of Open Skies as follows:
“The opportunity to observe each others’ territories is invaluable for transparency and the development of international trust between nations. In addition, aside from observing their work in the sky, we also get to interact professionally and to learn more about the culture of the nation in question; in this instance interacting with our Russian counterparts.”
The agreement is a relic of the Soviet era, but it’s contributing to contemporary tensions. Russia and the U.S. clashed recently after a U.S. spy plane made an emergency landing in eastern Russia.
The surveillance Boeing OC-135B aircraft was flying a mission over Siberia as allowed under the Treaty on Open Skies when it reported a problem with its landing gear.
A military source in Russia reportedly questioned whether the technical glitch was genuine.
It’s not the first time Russia has questioned whether a U.S. fumble was genuinely an accident. Putin and the U.S. government previously clashed after the U.S. sent live anthrax to bases in South Korea, reports The Inquisitr. Putin refused to believe that it could have been an accident.
[Photos by Joe Raedle and Anna Sergeeva.Getty Images]