“I want to be very clear: in our minds, it’s not related to what’s happening with Russia and Ukraine,” the official added.
Hacking group DarkSide, another ransomware gang believed to be based in Russia, was linked to the attack on Colonial Pipeline. The attack and subsequent panic among consumers led to gas shortages in several US states under a temporary pipeline shutdown.
The arrests followed months of negotiations between the Biden administration and Russian officials over the ransomware attack and other cybersecurity issues, and the FSB said Friday its actions were related to “calling competent US authorities”. Those efforts included a meeting between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin last year in Geneva and follow-up phone conversations.
The arrests came the same day hackers defaced and disabled dozens of Ukrainian government websites, with experts suspecting Russia was behind the attack.
The administration official stressed that while the arrests were “welcome,” they drew a clear line between the administration’s view of actions in Russia and the defacements of the Ukrainian website.
Individuals arrested will remain in Russia, rather than being extradited to the United States. The administration will closely monitor the next steps there, the senior official said.
“We expect Russia to announce arrests and pursue legal action within its own justice system,” the official said, adding that “we expect them to be brought to justice.” .