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Russian embassy calls UK Foreign Office’s accusations an attempt to demonize Russia

On Thursday, British Foreign Office Minister for Cyber Security Tariq Ahmad had attributed the NotPetya cyber attack to the Russian government
Russian Embassy in London  EPA/ANDY RAIN
Russian Embassy in London

LONDON, February 16 /TASS/. The Russian Embassy in London on Thursday described UK Foreign Office’s attempts to blame Moscow for a major cyberattack last year as part of a campaign to demonize Russia.

"The statement of Foreign Office Minister Lord [Tariq] Ahmad regarding Russia’s alleged responsibility for the NotPetya cyber-attack is, like many other similar accusations, not backed by any evidence," the embassy said in a statement on its website. "It is another example of irresponsible and hostile rhetoric of British officials towards Russia."

"The Embassy considers it as a part of the continuing campaign aimed at the stigmatisation of our country, that we have witnessed in the UK over the recent months," the statement reads.

On Thursday, British Foreign Office Minister for Cyber Security Tariq Ahmad had attributed the NotPetya cyber attack to the Russian government, saying that it "disrupted organizations across Europe costing hundreds of millions of pounds." Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov strongly rejected the claims as "groundless," adding that they were part of the "similarly groundless campaign based on hatred against Russia."

The Russian embassy pointed out that London was reluctant to engage in expert-level consultations with Moscow on the issue of cybersecurity.

"If the British side had had concrete evidence backing its accusations, it would have reacted positively to Russia’s proposal of bilateral expert consultations on cybersecurity made by Foreign Minister [Sergei] Lavrov to Foreign Secretary [Boris] Johnson on 22 December 2017 in Moscow," the embassy said. "For the time being, no such reply has been received."

"Russia at the UN has been promoting a number of specific constructive proposals helping the world address threats in the digital sphere," the statement reads. "Ironically, it is our Western partners including the UK who refuse to support this proposal."

On June 27, 2017, a ransomware blocking access to data and demanding money for unblocking it attacked dozens of energy, telecom and financial companies in Russia and Ukraine, spreading across the world afterwards. Experts from the Group-IB computer security company said the Petya encrypting ransomware was behind the massive cyber attack. The malware prevented operating systems from loading, blocked computers and demanded a ransom of the Bitcoin equivalent of $300. Kaspersky Lab later came to the conclusion that the world had faced a new ransomware, naming it NotPetya.