Moscow yesterday accused the West of "spy mania" after Dutch security services said they had thwarted a Russian cyber-attack on the global chemical weapons watchdog. "Western spy mania is gathering pace," a Russian foreign ministry representative told AFP.
Western nations accused Russia's powerful GRU intelligence agency with Dutch and British officials labeling it "brazen" for allegedly targeting the international chemical weapons watchdog and the investigation into the 2014 downing of a Malaysian Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine.
Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld said that the GRU's alleged hacking attempts on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons took place in April and were disrupted by authorities. Four Russian intelligence officers were immediately expelled from the Netherlands, she said.
Speaking about Russia's alleged hacking attempts into the MH17 crash investigation, she said: "We have been aware of the interest of Russian intelligence services in this investigation and have taken appropriate measures," as reported by The Associated Press.
The U.S. Justice Department also charged seven Russian intelligence officers with hacking anti-doping agencies and other organizations.
Earlier, British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson branded a series of global cyberattacks blamed on Russia as the reckless actions of a "pariah state," saying that the U.K. and its NATO allies would uncover such activities in the future.
Britain's National Cyber Security Center said yesterday that four new attacks are associated with the GRU as well as earlier security hacks. It cites attacks on the World Anti-Doping Agency, Ukrainian transport systems, the 2016 U.S. presidential race and others as very likely the work of the GRU.
"We are going to actually make it clear that where Russia acts, we are going to be exposing that action," Williamson said. "This is not the actions of a great power. This is the actions of a pariah state, and we will continue working with allies to isolate them; make them understand they cannot continue to conduct themselves in such a way," he said.