As with previous Justice Department criminal complaints against hackers from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, the indictments were unlikely to lead to arrests. But taken together, the accusations formed the West’s latest public shaming of the Kremlin, over malfeasance that President Trump has shown reluctance to condemn. In the case of election interference in the United States, he has cast doubt that it ever happened.
Instead, Vice President Mike Pence denounced China on a number of fronts on Thursday, saying that its influence campaigns were more worrisome than Russia’s. “What the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing across this country,” he said.
He made no reference to the Russian indictments.
The Kremlin dismissed the accusations. A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry called them the result of a “rich imagination” and “some kind of diabolical perfume cocktail,” Russian state media reported.
The combined effort by Western officials is based on a theory that Mr. Putin and his aides can be embarrassed into paring back their operations. But past cases cast doubt on that theory. American intelligence agencies accused the Russians, and ultimately Mr. Putin, of the Democratic National Committee hack in 2016; Thursday’s allegations documented misconduct this year, by the same agency and, in some cases, the same operatives.
Of the seven Russian officers charged by the Justice Department, three were also indicted in July by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, for interfering in the 2016 election. The new Justice Department case did not emerge from the Mueller investigation, Mr. Demers said, but added, “They evince the same methods of computer intrusion and the same overarching Russian strategic goal: to pursue its interests through illegal influence and disinformation operations aimed at muddying or altering perceptions of the truth.”
The indictment primarily focused on allegations that the Russian officers hacked into antidoping agencies and sporting federations, including the global soccer organization FIFA, and stole private medical information about roughly 250 athletes from 30 countries. The hackers released the data “selectively, and sometimes misleadingly,” in retaliation for the revelations of a state-sponsored Russian doping program that led to a ban on the Russian team from the 2018 Winter Olympics, prosecutors said.