New Russia sanctions probably coming 'within a week,' U.S. spy chief says


There is intense scrutiny of the security of USA election systems after a 2016 presidential race in which Russian Federation interfered, according to American intelligence agencies, to try to help Donald Trump win with presidency.

US intelligence chief Dan Coats said Tuesday the USA government has yet to put in place any "coherent strategy" to thwart any Russian interference in the November congressional elections, even though it is "highly likely" that Moscow will engage in a campaign of disruption, just as it did in the 2016 presidential election.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats testified about worldwide threats in a March 6 meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "We just don't know how much and when and where", he said.

Two Democratic senators on Wednesday asked major vendors of USA voting equipment whether they have allowed Russian entities to scrutinize their software, saying the practice could allow Moscow to hack into American elections infrastructure.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also expressed confidence that the government may proceed on the issue "within the next few weeks".

Russia has rejected playing any role in the US election, but the USA intelligence community has concluded it was personally directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Senator Mazie Hirono, a Democrat from Hawaii, asked who should lead efforts to counter Russian Federation with this year's elections "right around the corner".

Top intelligence officials, however, have said that so far, the USA has responded weakly to Russia's disinformation campaign to sow discord in America and raise doubts about the integrity of the presidential election. Admiral Mike Rogers, the current NSA director, told the panel Trump had not granted him authority to disrupt Russian hacking.

The indictment issued by the United States special counsel charged them with running a huge but hidden social media trolling campaign aimed in part at helping Mr Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. "This is a high priority for them", he said.

One of the main attackers, according to Coats, is Russian Federation. Trump has called several USA probes into whether his campaign colluded with Russian Federation a "witch hunt" and an excuse by Democrats to explain his upset victory over Clinton.

He said the Trump administration's national security team was discussing a range of threats facing the U.S. But he said: "There has not been yet a formulation yet of a lead agency that would work with Congress on legislative action and putting a policy in place". "He has said 'I assume you're doing your job, all of you who head up these agencies relative to cyber".

"These states are using cyber operations as a low-priced tool of statecraft, and we assess that they will work to use cyber operations to achieve strategic objectives unless they face clear repercussions for their cyber operations".