Skip to content

March 10, 2022

King Questions Intelligence Chiefs on Ukraine Cybersecurity, Information-Sharing Efforts

Cyberspace Solarium Commission Co-Chair asks senior Biden administration officials for updates on key aspects of the conflict in Ukraine

You can watch Senator King’s final question HERE, or download broadcast quality video HERE

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King today pressed top U.S. intelligence officials on the state of play in the conflict in Ukraine including the impact of cyberattacks, the value of sharing intelligence with both allies and the general public, and the limitations of a no-fly zone given the type of combat emphasized by Russian forces. In the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s annual Worldwide Threat Assessment hearing, King began by asking General Paul Nakasone – Director of the National Security Agency and Commander of United States Cyber Command – for an update on cyberattacks against Ukraine, and Nakasone’s insights on why there have not been more widespread, successful attacks.

General Nakasone, one thing that has surprised me in Ukraine is a lack of a strong, consistent, Russian cyber-attack on Ukraine,” said Senator King. “I expected to see the grid go down, communications too, and that hasn’t happened. Do you have any assessment of why? I thought that would be the first couple of days.”

So Senator I think that as we look at this and we are only 15 days in. And so, much can still occur and we’re very vigilant to make sure nothing does occur,” replied General Nakasone.  “But with that said, there are several things that are important to note. We’ve worked very, very hard with Ukraine over the past several years, really since the shutdown of energy in 2015, we had Hunt Forward teams from US Cyber Command in Kyiv, we worked very, very closely with a series of partners at NSA and the private sector to be able to provide the information- the inner agency. These are all impacts that I think have played out positively early on. I think to a degree, there is a Russian calculus that will pay out here. We will be very, very vigilant to see what occurs there.” 


Continuing his questioning Senator King highlighted the importance of intelligence sharing with the Ukrainians, and asked Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines how our sharing efforts have helped counter Russia’s heinous attacks. 

“Director Haynes, one of the learnings from the Ukraine experience, from our point of view, is the value of sharing intelligence, I don’t mean sharing necessarily between allies, but I mean with the American people, with the people of the world,” said Senator King. “I have always thought we classified too much and we that really blunt the impact that we could have on international relations by not sharing as long as we don’t compromise sources and methods. It appears a conscious decision was made to share more. Is that the case?”

Yes. All of us engaged in this and it has been an extraordinary team effort to be honest in trying to promote sort of more mechanisms for sharing, finding ways to make sure we’re integrating our work across the intelligence community and providing that information to partners and allies in this context and also disclosing certain things publicly as you have indicated,” replied Director Haynes. “It really has been, at least from my perspective, critical to the diplomatic effort. I think it has helped to galvanize the response. And also, I hope help to prepare the Ukrainians to some extent, even though I think honestly, it’s obviously tragic that despite all the information we’ve put out that we still see the Russians invade Ukraine and so it’s bittersweet in this moment, but I think we’ve learned a lot of lessons from it and it will allow us to continue to do that in places where we see the need.”


You can watch Senator King’s final question HERE, or download broadcast quality video HERE

Concluding his questioning, Senator King asked Lieutenant General Scott Berrier – Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency – if a no-fly zone would be an effective tool to counter the majority of damage being inflicted by Russia’s attacks.

General Berrier, we see these horrendous pictures of apartment blocks being hit, hospitals being hit in Ukraine. My question is, what is hitting them? The use of the term bombing is very common, but my impression is that it is mostly missiles and artillery,” said Senator King. “Is it bombing from aircraft? Or missiles and artillery?”

“It is a combination of mostly missiles, artillery, multiple rocket launchers. There are some precision guided missiles that are being dropped from aircraft but that number is small,” replied General Berrier.

The talk about a no-fly zone would not really impact what is causing the damage currently,” continued Senator King. “Is that correct?... My point is: a no-fly zone would not inhibit missiles, rockets and artillery.”

That is correct,” agreed General Berrier.

As a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Intelligence Committees, Senator King is seen as a highly-influential voice in the intelligence and national security conversation. In recent days, Senator King has condemned the heinous attacks on Ukraine’s sovereignty, and worked to make sure Putin feels the economic price of his actions. He introduced a bipartisan bill to ban Russian oil and gas imports, applauded president Biden’s decision to implement a similar ban. He has also recently introduced bipartisan legislation to freeze Russia’s ability to sell its gold reserves and sought a government study to evaluate how Russia’s energy influence can be countered globally. As the crisis in Ukraine has escalated, Senator King shared concerns that Putin may consider “greater force in Ukraine” and condemned the attacks on Ukrainian sovereignty while calling for a united, international effort to push back on Putin.

Next Article » « Previous Article