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Prominent Republicans criticized President Biden over a cyberattack that had shut down most of a major U.S. oil pipeline as of Monday evening.

Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45 percent of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, halted operations late last week after revealing a ransomware attack that it said had affected some of its systems. On Monday, the FBI identified a criminal syndicate named DarkSide as creators of the ransomware used in the attack. The group’s members are Russian speakers, and their malware is coded not to attack networks using Russian-language keyboards.

“No cyber-gang in Russia can conduct this kind of attack against an American piece of critical infrastructure without the tacit or explicit knowledge of Vladimir Putin’s government,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told “Fox News Primetime” Monday night. “It shows that Joe Biden’s weak policy on Russia is having consequences for the American people.”

“When you give away the store to Russia, when you extend a nuclear arms treaty that favors Russia over the United States, you allow Russia to build a gas pipeline to Germany under the Baltic Sea, when you invite Vladimir Putin to a summit … you just embolden Vladimir Putin and his minions to launch these kinds of attacks on the U.S. …,” Cotton added.

“He [Biden] calls Vladimir Putin a killer once, and he acts like he’s a tough guy. The Democrats have been beating their chests about Russia for the past four years, but as soon as Joe Biden got into office, they returned to their weak, dovish roots once again … we should immediately go on offense if that’s what it takes to get Russia to pull in its horns.”

Anne Neuberger, the White House deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, told reporters Monday that the Biden administration is not blaming any country for the cyberattack. DarkSide itself posted a statement on its dark web site claiming its purpose “is to make money, and not creating problems for society.”

The Colonial Pipeline passes through 12 states between Texas and New Jersey and plays a key role in transporting gasoline, jet fuel, diesel and other petroleum products.

Former Texas Governor and Energy Secretary Rick Perry said the forced shutdown should serve as a “wake-up call” to President Biden to “build more pipelines instead of shutting them down.”

“I’m pretty sure the Clinton administration, Bush administration, the Obama administration, all worked to get America to be independent of other countries’ oil and gas,” Perry told Fox News’ “Hannity”. “And we did that under the Trump administration. We not only became independent, we became dominant, and this administration wants to take that away and stop building pipelines.”

On the same program, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called for legislation to elevate cyberattacks to the same level as terror attacks.

“We ought to pass a law immediately that makes this kind of hacking subject to a death penalty, and the law should include a provision that the president, through a judicial process, should be able to order the killing of anybody overseas who’s doing this,” Gingrich said. “I mean, we have now spent like 15 years on defense. We have no idea who they are, we have no idea where they are, and if we did know who they were, we’d have no mechanism to do anything about it. A great country cannot allow people to come in and savage it, have no consequences, and then wait for the next attack, and yet that literally is where we are right now.”

Colonial Pipeline announced late Monday that its Line 4, which runs from Greensboro, N.C., to Woodbine, Md., was operating under manual control “for a limited period of time while existing inventory is available … some smaller lateral lines between terminals and delivery points are now operational as well.”

The company said earlier Monday it hopes to “substantially” restore service by the end of this week.

With Post wires

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