The Hague: The United Kingdom, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and The Netherlands lashed out against Russia on Thursday regarding alleged cyber attacks that the nations have traced back to the nation’s military intelligence agency, GRU. The latest cyber attack was prevented by the Dutch Defence Ministry in April this year, following which the four Russian intelligence agents involved were immediately suspended.
The Dutch Defence Ministry held a press conference on Thursday to reveal the suspension of the four Russian intelligence agents on April 13 over the cyber attack on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Dutch Minister of Defence, Ank Bijleveld, called the attempt “brazen” and “worrying” according to CNN.
Meanwhile, the UK, in a press release, “exposed a campaign” by GRU while stating that the Russian military intelligence service was behind “indiscriminate and reckless cyber attacks targeting political institutions, businesses, media and sport”.
The British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt launched a tirade against Russia, and said, “The GRU’s actions are reckless and indiscriminate: they try to undermine and interfere in elections in other countries; they are even prepared to damage Russian companies and Russian citizens.” He said that this behaviour reflected “their desire to operate without regard to international law or established norms and to do so with a feeling of impunity and without consequences.”
Hunt further said: “Our message is clear: together with our allies, we will expose and respond to the GRU’s attempts to undermine international stability”, while a press release stated that the British Government will do “whatever is necessary to keep our people safe”.
NATO backed both the British and Dutch claims and issued a press release that stated: “NATO Allies stand in solidarity with the decision by the Dutch and British governments to call out Russia on its blatant attempts to undermine international law and institutions”. The organisation further said, “Russia must stop its reckless pattern of behaviour, including the use of force against its neighbours, attempted interference in election processes, and widespread disinformation campaigns.”
Commenting on the suspension of the four Russians, the first deputy head of the Russian upper house international committee Vladimir Dzhabarov told Sputnik that the measures will be “tit-for-tat” and “our reaction will be unambiguous”. However, Russia’s Permanent Mission to the OPCW refused to comment on the Dutch Defense Ministry’s allegations, when asked by Sputnik. Furthermore, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the accusations fake, and start of yet another international anti-Russia campaign.
CNN had earlier reported that Russia had rejected Britain’s claim that the GRU was behind a global campaign of cyber attacks, before the press conference.