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Russian embassy forwards note to UK’s FCO demanding facts about cyber attacks

Earlier, the UK, Canada, the Netherlands and the US accused officers of the Russian General Staff’s Main Directorate of attempted series of hacker attacks
Russian Embassy in London EPA/WILL OLIVER
Russian Embassy in London

LONDON, October 5. /TASS/. Russia’s Embassy in the United Kingdom said on Friday it has forwarded a note to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office demanding evidence be provided immediately to ground allegations about Russia being behind cyber attacks on the Foreign Office and the defense research laboratory at Porton Down.

"Today, the Embassy has forwarded a Note Verbale to the FCO demanding that the UK Government produces and immediately shares with the Russian side hard evidence and proof supporting those claims, and informs about sources used to draw such conclusions. We have reminded, in particular, that Russia had repeatedly proposed expert consultations on cybersecurity in order to address UK’s concerns, if any," the embassy said, stressing that London’s groundless statements only "spread fear and sow confusion among the British public."

The embassy’s comment came as response to the statement by UK Permanent Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Peter Wilson who claimed on Thursday that the "GRU" (Russia’s military intelligence) allegedly "attempted to compromise UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office computer systems via a spear phishing attack" and "targeted computers of the UK Defence and Science Technology Laboratory".

"We would like to emphasize that a refusal of the British authorities to establish expert dialogue and provide Russia and the international and British public with any evidence would testify to the fact that the UK has simply no evidence to present. References to national security and public order as a basis for refraining from sharing information would be utterly artificial and would not persuade anyone," the Russian embassy said. "It is worth noting that high-ranking British officials continue to declare the need for dialogue with Russia on issues of mutual interest. One would think that accusations of cyber attacks and the alleged use of chemical weapons in Salisbury are exactly those issues that are of extreme interest to both sides."

Earlier, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands and the United States accused officers of the Russian General Staff’s Main Directorate (former main intelligence directorate, or GRU) of attempted series of hacker attacks, including against the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and linked these attacks to the Salisbury incident. UK’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jeremy Hunt said that London would discuss with its allies further sanctions against Russia in response to the actions he describes as violation of international norms. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied its involvement in any cyber attacks regularly ascribed to Moscow by Western countries.

Britain’s military chemical laboratory at Porton Down near Salisbury was tasked with establishing the origin of the substance that poisoned Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March. However it failed to trace the origin of the substance.

If the British version of the affair is to be believed former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, 66, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia, 33, suffered the effects of a nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury on March 4. Claiming that the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, London rushed to accuse Russia of being involved in the incident. Moscow rejected all of United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia ever had any program aimed at developing such an agent.