WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Monday that there was no evidence that the Russian government was involved with the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack that shut down a major United States fuel pipeline on Friday.
“I’m going to have a conversation, I’m going to be meeting with President Putin,” Biden said. “And, so far, there is no evidence based on, from our intelligence people, that Russia is involved, although there is evidence that the actor’s ransomware is in Russia. They have some responsibility to deal with this.”
Biden did not say when or where he would meet with Putin, although he has previously said he hoped to meet with the Russian leader in Europe in June. The FBI said Monday that the DarkSide ransomware, a Russian cybercrime gang referred to by the same name, was responsible for the attack.
The Colonial Pipeline, which provides nearly half of the gasoline and fuels used on the East Coast, shut down all of its operations Friday after hackers broke into some of its networks. All four of its main lines remain offline.
The attack sparked fresh fears about the vulnerability of the U.S.’s energy infrastructure to cyberattacks and raised concerns about the supply and price of oil and gas.
The Department of Transportation issued an emergency declaration Sunday to allow truckers to drive between fuel distributors and local gas stations on more overtime hours and less sleep than federal restrictions normally allow in an effort to ramp up alternate ways to distribute oil and gas.
“We’re prepared to take additional steps depending on how quickly the company is able to bring this pipeline back to full operational capacity,” Biden said Monday. “My administration takes this very seriously.”
Biden said he had been been briefed on the hack every single day and that the Department of Energy was working directly with Colonial Pipeline to return to operating at fully capacity “as quickly and as safely as possible.”
“The agencies across the government have worked quickly to mitigate any impact on our fuel supply,” Biden said.
Biden also argued Monday that the April’s underwhelming jobs report was not because enhanced unemployment benefits led workers to stay home as Republicans have argued. Biden urged patience for the benefits of increased vaccinations and the American Relief Plan to be reflected in employment numbers.
“Let’s be clear: our economic plan is working,” Biden said. “Some months will exceed expectations, others will fall short. The question is: what is the trend? Are we heading the right direction?”