On October 8th, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that it would summon the Dutch Ambassador in connection to the “misinformation campaign” launched by the Netherlands regarding the Netherlands’ accusations of espionage against Moscow.
The Foreign Ministry said that the propaganda campaign initiated by the West to present Moscow as the enemy and to accuse Russia of “world-wide” cyber-attacks is aimed at diverting attention from efforts of the US and allies to increase their own cyber potentials and prepare for cyber warfare operations.
“There is no doubt that the campaign to demonize Russia and the cyberattack charges brought against us are intended to divert the attention of the Western public from the efforts of the United States and its allies to build their own cyber potentials and prepare for cyberwarfare operations,” the ministry said
Moscow emphasized that the Dutch accusations were aimed at starting a new spin of propaganda and they were coordinated with accusations made by the US and UK.
The Foreign Ministry also reiterated that despite accusing the Russian citizens in April, no official charges were pressed against them when they were detained in the Hague.
“There was nothing secret about the group of Russian technical experts’ trip. It was a completely open and routine business trip. Different government organizations and agencies, including the Russian Ministry of Defense, manage the day-to-day activities of Russian diplomatic missions abroad,” the Russian Foreign Ministry informed.
“They were not asked any questions. They simply had their equipment, including mobile phones, seized, thereby depriving them of the opportunity to promptly contact the embassy,” it said.
The Foreign Ministry explained that their equipment was not intended for malicious use it had testing purposes, due to security concerns.
“The technical means withdrawn from the Russian representatives were intended for testing information systems of embassies in the interests of analyzing the security of computer networks in connection with the frequent attempts at cyber penetration into Russian state institutions,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also commented on the “hacking” accusations.
“I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that this press conference coincided with the NATO Defense Ministers meeting… A meeting of the European Council will also take place soon, and the EU heads of state and government will also address various issues. Probably, it seemed to someone that digging up the April story and making it public right now will help to divert attention from complex issues that are being discussed now both in the European Union and, to a certain extent, in NATO, including the proportion of defense capabilities of these two structures,” Lavrov said.
He once more repeated that the four Russian citizens who were detained in April were on a routine trip and there was nothing secret regarding their visit to the Hague. They did not hide – neither when they checked into the hotel, nor when they arrived at the airport, nor when they visited the Russian Embassy, he said.
According to Lavrov, when they were detained they weren’t allowed to contact the Embassy, they received no explanation and they were simply deported back to Russia. The foreign minister stated that it seemed like a misunderstanding because in April there was no official protest regarding the incident.
Six months after the incident, according to Lavrov there was a leak in the Dutch press regarding it and claims that it was espionage related. He further reiterated that this was a coordinated propaganda attack by the US, the UK and the Netherlands.
The Russian version of the incident:
- Four people accused by the Netherlands had diplomatic passports and were there on an “open and routine business trip”;
- Their equipment was intended for testing information systems of embassies to boost cyber security of the Russian institutions;
- When the Russians were detained no official charges were pressed;
- The “hacking” accusations are a part of the coordinated propaganda campaign against Russia. The goal of this campaign is to draw attention from efforts of the US and allies to increase their own offensive cyber capabilities.
On October 4th by Dutch authorities claimed that they have foiled a Russian hacking mission aimed at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
On the same day, US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said that Russia must be held accountable for its cyber alleged misconduct and attempts to hack the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Additionally, the US indicted seven suspected Russian agents for allegedly conspiring to hack computers and steal data from the international anti-doping organization, the OPCW, USADA and other international bodies and entities.
The UK government also accused alleged Russian agents of being behind four high-profile cyber-attacks, whose targets included firms in Russia and Ukraine, the US Democratic Party, and a small TV network in the UK.