Pentagon chief calls for broader US response to Russia

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter (Photo by AFP)

US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has called for a broader response to Russia’s alleged intervention in the recent US presidential election.

Speaking to NBC on Sunday, the outgoing Pentagon chief said Washington should not “limit” its response to what he called Moscow’s cyber attacks to influence the outcome of the presidential election.

“I think we should not limit ourselves when cyber is the means used in aggression against us,” Carter said.

A report released by US intelligence agencies on Friday claimed that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election.”

Put together by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Security Agency (NSA) , the report charged that Russia “sought to help” President-elect Donald Trump by running a smear campaign against Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival.

Last week, outgoing President Barack Obama ordered a series of economic sanctions against Russia, as well as expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats over the hacking allegations.

Carter said Sunday that the Washington can use more options to pressure Russia without the need to use military force.

“I don’t think it should be a military, or purely military response,” he said.

The run-up to the November vote saw the two candidates attacking each other over a series of confidential emails that belonged to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Clinton’s top aide John Podesta.

Trump said that the emails showed Clinton’s corruption, proving that she was unfit to lead the country. Clinton, however, blamed the leaks on Moscow and accused Trump of getting help from the Kremlin.

The Obama administration has been blaming the hacks on Russia, but the Kremlin has categorically denied the claim.

Carter said the hacking attacks were an “aggressive act against our very democracy” and the American public needed to take the matter “very seriously.”

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