Statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Russian cyber attacks

Main building of the OPCW in The Hague

The revalations come as the United Kingdom accused Kremlin spies of directing a host of cyber attacks aimed at undermining Western democracies by sowing confusion in everything from sports to transport and the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

And Britain's cyber security chiefs say they have "high confidence" Russian intelligence was responsible for a strike on Wada in August 2017.

The GRU, the British report said, was nearly certainly behind the "BadRabbit" ransomware attack previous year that targeted a Ukrainian global airport and Russian media outlets, as well as the hacking of the World Anti-Doping Agency in Switzerland.

The US indictments were announced as Dutch security services said they had thwarted a Russian attack on the global chemical weapons watchdog, the OPCW, and after Britain blamed the GRU for plots that notably targeted the US Democratic Party and world sport's anti-doping authority John Demers, US Assistant Attorney General for National Security, confirmed that known attack targets included the OPCW, sports bodies including Federation Internationale de Football Association and the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA), as well as US nuclear energy company Westinghouse.

"They try to undermine and interfere in elections in other countries; they are even prepared to damage Russian companies and Russian citizens", adding the attacks had caused millions of British pounds in damage to national economies.

"Our message is clear - together with our allies, we will expose and respond to the GRU's attempts to undermine global stability", Hunt said.

Governments have in the past been cautious about attributing similar attacks, in part because their origin can be hard to trace.

Moscow has denied the allegations, with Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissing the new accusations as "big fantasies" and a "diabolical perfume cocktail" of allegations by someone with a "rich imagination".

Ordinarily, intelligence agencies focus on issues related to national security.

Though commonly known by the acronym GRU, which stands for the Main Intelligence Directorate, its name was formally changed in 2010 to the Main Directorate of the General Staff (or just GU). The suspects are all allegedly members of Unit 74455, a branch of GRU. Its structure, staff numbers and financing are Russian state secrets.The GRU traces its history back to the times of Ivan the bad, though it was founded as the Registration Directorate in 1918 after the Bolshevik Revolution.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, himself a former KGB spy, said on October 3 that Mr. Skripal, a GRU officer who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain's MI6 foreign spy service, was a "scumbag" who had betrayed Russia. Russian Federation has repeatedly denied the charges.

The OPCW is carrying out forensic tests in the investigation into the poisoning of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury on March 4.

The four men flew from Moscow to Amsterdam on April 10 on official passports, where they were met by a Russian embassy official.

At the time, the OPCW was working to verify the identity of the substance used in the Salisbury attack. The organization was investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria; Russian actors were caught by the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

Russia rejected British accusations its spies were behind global cyber attacks, saying the allegations were unworthy and part of a disinformation campaign created to damage Russian interests, the TASS news agency reported.

Britain said the GRU was associated with a host of hackers including APT 28, Fancy Bear, Sofacy, Pawnstorm, Sednit, CyberCaliphate, Cyber Berkut and Voodoo Bear.

"This pattern of behaviour demonstrates their desire to operate without regard to worldwide law or established norms and to do so with a feeling of impunity and without consequences", he said.

"Russia must stop its reckless pattern of behavior, including the use of force against its neighbors, attempted interference in election processes, and widespread disinformation campaigns", he said.

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