Did Russia just implicitly admit that it hacked the United States?
Reports last week that three cybersecurity experts, including two officers from the Federal Security Service (FSB), were arrested last month seem to suggest so.
According to Russian media reports, Sergei Mikhailov, the deputy head of the FSB's Center for Information Security, is being charged with espionage for allegedly providing information to U.S. intelligence about a server that experts believe was the nexus for hacking attacks against the United States.
If U.S. intelligence did indeed have a highly placed source like Mikhailov, it would explain why it was able to conclude with such a high degree of confidence that Russia was behind the cyberattacks during the election campaign.
The timing of the arrests and the timing of the decision by former U.S. President Barack Obama to declassify and make public parts of the U.S. intelligence report on the alleged Russian hacking also makes sense.
Mikhailov was arrested in December.And the U.S. released the intelligence report a month later, in January.
If Mikhailov was indeed a source, then Washington would have been reluctant to declassify its intelligence for fear of compromising him.
After he was arrested, this would no longer be an issue.
But the question that is really on my mind is why the Kremlin decided to leak this information now, knowing full well the conclusions the West would draw from it.
And the only conclusion I can come to is that Vladimir Putin's regime is feeling pretty confident.
And it is not afraid to send a signal that it is powerful enough to interfere in Western countries, and it is not afraid to use it.