Cyber Subcommittee Chairs call for more robust engagement with allies and partners through the State Department as threat of Russian cyberattacks grow


Washington (April 5, 2022) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chairman of the East Asia and International Cybersecurity Policy Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with Representative Bill Keating (MA-09), Chairman of the Europe, Energy, the Environment and Cyber Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a letter to President Biden following the State Department’s official creation of a new bureau to lead U.S. cyber diplomatic and deterrence policy yesterday.  The lawmakers expressed concerns that Russia’s cyberattacks against Ukrainian targets may expand in severity and in scope in light of Moscow’s inability to achieve its strategic objectives in its war in Ukraine. The lawmakers call upon the President to appoint an Ambassador-at-large to lead the new Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy, without delay, in order to coordinate global U.S. engagement with allies and partners and to strengthen international norms of acceptable behavior in the cyber domain.


“Ukraine’s inspiring resistance in thwarting Russia from achieving its strategic objectives may lead President Putin to unleash cyberattacks on a larger scale — one that exacerbates the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine or tests the boundaries of what the NATO alliance considers an armed attack under Article V of its Charter,” write the lawmakers. “To that end, we strongly urge you to immediately nominate an Ambassador-at-large to head the State Department’s newly created Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy, and provide the Bureau with appropriate staffing and resources. By establishing a single cyber diplomatic point of contact to help allies and partners bolster their own defenses, this Bureau will fill a crucial gap in our cyber support structures spread across U.S. government agencies.”


A copy of the letter can be found HERE.


Specifically, the lawmakers request that the President answer the following questions on U.S. cyber diplomacy policy:


1.         What lessons have we learned from the Russian government cyberattacks against Ukraine to date?

2.         What criteria would the Administration use to determine whether a cyberattack on a NATO member should trigger Article V of the North Atlantic Charter on collective self-defense?

3.         Approximately what is the timeline to fully staff up the new Bureau? How will the Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy work with other U.S. government agencies and international partners to build capacity to help deny, deter, and impose costs on malign actors who conduct cyberattacks?

4.         Which federal agencies currently engage with other countries to defend against cyberattacks?

5.         Will the Administration outline the scope of possible policy responses to cyberattacks on the United States as the European Union has done?

6.         Under what circumstances would the Administration support the negotiation of a legally binding international treaty to complement non-binding norms to promote the peaceful uses of cyberspace?

7.         How will the State Department evaluate progress towards the further development of the eleven norms of behavior set out in the 2015 report of the Group of Government Experts?