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Bolton's Plan to Retaliate Against Russia for Cyberwarfare Makes Putin Meeting Seem More Unlikely

Politico documents Bolton's belief the U.S. should use digital warfare against Russia and entities as well, singling out Wikileaks as a good testing ground

In this Friday, Feb. 24, 2017 file photo, Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Oxon Hill
AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File

The Kremlin boasted on Monday that U.S. President Donald Trump suggested the White House as the venue for a summit with Russia's Vladimir Putin when they discussed the idea of meeting in a telephone call last month, but Trump's new hire, John Bolton, may make that meeting increasing unlikely. 

Since that call, on March 20, preparations for a possible summit have not progressed because of a diplomatic row, Kremlin aid Yuri Ushakov said. Trump's new national security adviser, Bolton, has long argued that the U.S. should begin retaliatory measures against Russia in the realm of cybersecurity. 

“We need to create structures of deterrence in cyberspace, as we did with nuclear weapons, to prevent future Russian attacks or attacks by others who threaten our interests,” he said in a February op-ed in The Hill. “One way to do that is to engage in a retaliatory cyber campaign against Russia.”

Bolton, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, said something similar, “I’ll tell you this. I think we ought to retaliate for the Russia cyberattacks on our election process. I think the retaliation should not be proportionate.”

Politico points out, Bolton believes the U.S. should use digital warfare against entities as well, singling out Wikileaks as a good testing ground. “U.S. cyber warfare people should use WikiLeaks for target practice,” he said last year on Fox Business. “Take down their capabilities.”

Bolton and Trump's view on Syria are also likely to put them at odds. 

Trump has told advisers he wants an early exit of U.S. troops from Syria, two senior administration officials said on Friday, a stance that may put him at odds with U.S. military officials who see the fight against Islamic State as nowhere near complete.

A National Security Council meeting is set for early next week to discuss the U.S.-led campaign against Islamic State in Syria, according to U.S. officials familiar with the plan. Bolton has long argued that U.S. intervention in the Middle East is the best and only way to combat terrorism.