On October 4, Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld stated that the intelligence services thwarted a Russian cyberattack on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
He also said that four Russian “intelligence operatives” who are suspected of attempting to carry out the attack against the OPCW were expelled from the country. They allegedly had diplomatic passports.
“The Dutch government finds the involvement of these intelligence operatives extremely worrisome. Normally we don’t reveal this type of counter-intelligence operation,” the defense minister told media, claiming that these Russians were GRU officers.
According to Bijleveld, the alleged attack was disrupted on April 13. The Russian “GRU agents” had taken photos of the organization’s surroundings in The Hague. They were described by the Dutch Defense Ministry as hackers Alexei Morenetz and Yevgeny Serebriakov and support agents Oleg Sotnikov and Alexei Minin.
On April 13, the Russian allegedly parked a vehicle containing high-tech equipment next to the office of the watchdog. The equipment was allegedly able to hack into the organization’s WiFi network.
How can we know they were not just in NL on holiday? Question raises a chuckle in the room. Tried to destroy phones & removed litter from hotel. Carrying large amount of cash (more than you’d normally take on hols) #Russia #GRU pic.twitter.com/vLzFbU9cA7
— anna holligan 🎙 (@annaholligan) October 4, 2018
Intelligence supplied by UK helped show they were planning a close access hacking operation at the OPCW using a new technique. Found equipment in car boot used to intercept people's log-ins. Antenna was pointed at OPCW pic.twitter.com/FHRpyZSmp3
— Gordon Corera (@gordoncorera) October 4, 2018
Additionally, Dutch Major General Onno Eichelsheim said that the Russians “were not on vacation” and one of the men had €20,000 in cash.
UK Ambassador to the Netherlands Peter Wilson also participated in the press conference. He said that the Russians targeted the UK Foreign Office and Porton Down Defense and Science Laboratory.
Bellingcat is already here:
The IDs of the four GRU operatives tracked by the Dutch in relation to an attempted hack of the OPCW. Surprisingly, possibly not the worst GRU agents in the world. pic.twitter.com/DCO09iDkIn
— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) October 4, 2018
The Russian Foreign Ministry described the Dutch claims as “spy mania” towards Russia. As to Hunt’s accusations, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated that they are the product of someone with a “rich imagination.”
“It’s some kind of a diabolical perfume cocktail [of allegations],” Zakharova stated.