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Hacking allegations against Russia

Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson M.Zakharova made a statement on hacking allegations against Russia during briefing Feb.9 in Moscow.

The trend of accusing Russia of hacking attacks, which was set by Washington and former President Obama’s team, has been picked up all over the world. It is very much alive and growing. Unfortunately, it has to be said that the information campaign directed against Russia continues to be fuelled in the Western media, with flash mobs and an increasing number of participants.

New blips on the radar screen include Norway, Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Estonia. We don’t have that many hackers! I’d like to start with Norway. The country’s police security service, apparently succumbing to the influence of neighbouring Sweden, stated that Norwegian government agencies, including the Foreign Ministry, the Armed Forces, nuclear and radiation safety administrations, the Labour Party, a university and the police service itself came under cyberattack from so-called Kremlin hackers. And although it is noted that the investigation is ongoing, all prizes have already been awarded and guilt has been assigned without any evidence, without any facts. Everything is groundless and unverifiable, and therefore nothing has been officially recorded anywhere.

A similar situation has evolved in the Netherlands. Local experts say that this time Russian hackers targeted a building in the Binnenhof, a complex of governmental and parliamentary buildings, where the prime minister’s office is located (that’s how far they have reached). The Dutch public also continues to be agitated by former foreign minister and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who believes his country is “attractive to Russian hackers” on the assumption that parliamentary elections are due to take place there in March. You see, things have really coalesced: “Russian hackers” are a phenomenon that feeds on parliamentary and presidential elections and targets regions and countries where these elections are due to take place. According to Mr Scheffer’s logic, the involvement of “Russian hackers” in this process can be assessed based on the outcome of past elections. The hysteria that is fanned in the media is being actively joined by members of the country’s government who do not mince their words. Even though they have no proof, they publicly call Russia the “main source of cyber threats.”

This story has also made it to Canada. Considering that Russia, through its hackers, has allegedly interfered in the US presidential election, the Canadian leadership announced as a matter of urgency that it has developed special tactics to protect its electoral process against possible cyberattacks. US “retirees” are fuelling the flames. They are actively traveling to the country to prevent emergency situations allegedly threatening Canada, caused, among other things, by “Kremlin hackers.” Speaking in Canada, former US CIA and NSA chief Michael Hayden declared “Russian hackers” to be the main threat to Canada. See how big this is? Asked how the source of a cyber threat could be identified in the 21st century, he said that the more totalitarian a country is, the more likely it is involved in state-sponsored hacking attacks. In that case Niccolò Machiavelli could be of use here. I believe we will find a couple of relevant passages there.

The latest variation on the mythical subject of Russian cyber threats came from British Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon. Speaking at a Scottish university on the issue of Russian-UK relations, instead of giving serious consideration to ways of improving cooperation between our countries in countering real security threats, he chose to devote a substantial part of his speech to “Russian hackers,” groundlessly holding Russia responsible for cyberattacks carried out against government agencies in Bulgaria, the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Montenegro. According to Mr Fallon, “Russia is clearly testing the West. It is undermining national security for many allies.” And this is from the defence minister of one of the world’s leading countries! The impression is – and it is quite a strong impression – that the mythical Russian threat worries him much more than, say, international terrorism does. This is understandable. International terrorism actually exists and it is up to each state whether to fight it, but in any case, they will be called to account. As for Russian, Kremlin hackers, this is a brilliant story because nobody knows where they are, who they are or from where their attacks are carried out, but everybody knows how to fight them and how much money is required for that.

Speaking at a Scottish university Mr Fallon said that cyberattacks are carried out from Russian soil by Russians against government agencies, including in Germany. At the same time as he made his remarks, Süddeutsche Zeitung published an article saying that German special services had investigated for almost a year the disinformation campaign against the country’s government allegedly run by the Russian authorities. It cites government sources as saying that no conclusive evidence of Russian interference was found. How come? This is what we’ve been reading and hearing from officials, people who only recently represented their governments, their states. As for the Süddeutsche Zeitung story, I would like to point out that our German colleagues took a year (citing government sources) to understand that there was no media or cyber interference. A question arises: Why, all of a sudden, despite the hysteria in many countries, was this kind of article published, citing German official representatives? Could it be because Berlin has begun to understand that exploiting the subject of “Russian hackers,” Russian media influence could simply undermine the legitimacy of their election results?

Paradoxically, there is conclusive evidence as to who in fact engages in hacking attacks and wire tapping. Regarding Germany, it is clear who monitored who. There is a desire to attribute everything to a state that is not involved in it in any way. The information campaign is plain to see.