‘Russian hacking’ charges fly in formation: Mere coincidence or part of bigger picture?
A wave of hacking accusations against Moscow flowed on Thursday from several western states. Russian diplomats believe it wasn’t a coincidence. But why take Moscow’s word for it, when you can check out recent events for yourself?
The UK and the Netherlands claimed that Russian government hackers were behind the attacks on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and also cited an attempt to hack into the MH17 crash investigation. The US indicted seven “agents” of Russian military intelligence for a series of alleged hacks and Canada blamed Moscow for “malicious cyber-operations.”
But even if those events appear to be coordinated, as the Russian Foreign Ministry says, it really could be just the tip of the iceberg in the sea of recent international events.
- On Thursday, NATO bigwigs gathered in Brussels to discuss the bloc’s cyber warfare efforts. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg notably condemned the “indiscriminate campaign of cyberattacks around the world” supposedly waged by “Russian hackers.”
- Next week, the OPCW is set to hold a session to discuss funding of the so-called “attribution mechanism,” designed to assign blame for chemical weapons-related incidents. While the mechanism interferes with the UN authority, it has received “full support” from its Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who expressed hopes the new OPCW scheme would create “adequate conditions allowing for accountability to exist.”
- At last week’s UN General Assembly, several Western leaders spoke out for “suspension of the right of veto in the event of mass atrocities.” Some specifically threatened to take action were such events to take place in Syria. While the use of chemical weapons in Syria was repeatedly pinned on Damascus, British PM Theresa May has also accused Moscow of the “reckless use of chemical weapons” on UK soil.
- Late in September, Russian state anti-doping agency (RUSADA) was declared compliant with the WADA code and reinstated following a three-year ban.
- Also in September, the Russian military published new evidence on the MH17 downing, releasing documents which proved that the Buk anti-aircraft missile, which was demonstrated earlier by the Dutch investigators, actually belonged to Ukraine.
The background ‘Russian hackers’ buzz
New allegations also fall on the fertile soil of anti-Russian paranoia, as the elusive hackers, allegedly directed by Kremlin, have been blamed for virtually all the major hacks and leaks over the past few years. The unfounded accusations included, but were not limited to, alleged cyberattacks on the 2016 US presidential elections, polls all across Europe, Brexit and even personal attacks on the most “prominent” anti-Russia politicians.
“Given the paranoia, vehemently fueled in the West over the past few years over the 'almighty Russian cyber spies,' who, in the minds of western politicians, live in 'backwater Russia,' any citizen of our country with a mobile device is seen as a spy,” the Russian Foreign Ministry has stated.
The whole new set of hacking allegations against Moscow, coming on the same day from different sources, cannot be a coincidence, Russian diplomats believe.
“Everything is well-coordinated,” the Russian ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko told RT. “The British side made a statement and, of course, all the newspapers, as if on command, immediately gave reactions to that. And then we have other countries, who made the same statements. So, basically, we see some kind of campaign, a well-coordinated campaign to discredit Russia.”
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