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Germany accuses Russia of cyberattacks, summons envoy; Moscow denies involvement



Germany, on Friday (May 3) blamed Russia for a series of cyberattacks and alleged that Moscow’s intelligence service was behind a cyberattack that targeted German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s party Social Democrats (SPD), last year. The Russian Embassy in Germany has since denied these allegations. 

Germany summons Russian envoy, warns of consequences

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that a recent government investigation found that a cyberattack targeting members of the SPD had been carried out by a group known as APT28 which operates under “the military intelligence service of Russia”. 

“We can now clearly attribute the attack to the Russian group APT28, which is controlled by the Russian military intelligence service GRU,” Baerbock told reporters during a visit to Australia.

She added, “In other words, it was a state-sponsored Russian cyberattack on Germany and this is absolutely intolerable and unacceptable and will have consequences. 

APT28, also known as Fancy Bear or Pawn Storm, has been accused of dozens of cyberattacks around the world. 

Last year, SPD announced that cybercriminals had targeted email accounts belonging to its executives, earlier in 2023. 

According to German officials, hackers exploited a previously unknown vulnerability in Microsoft Outlook to compromise email accounts. 

The German interior ministry also said that from December 2022 onwards SPD and companies in the logistics, defence, aerospace and IT sectors were targeted by Russian hackers. 

In light of this report, Germany, on Friday summoned the acting charge d’affaires of the Russian embassy. 

Czech Republic also accuses Russia of cyberattacks

Officials in the Czech Republic also levelled similar allegations against Russia. Czech government officials said some of its state institutions had been the target of cyberattacks blamed on APT28 who again exploited a weakness in Microsoft Outlook, last year. 

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser during a joint news conference in Prague with her Czech counterpart Vit Rakusan said such cyberattacks are “a threat to our democracy, national security and our free societies”. 

She added, “We are calling on Russia again to stop these activities.” Meanwhile, Rakusan said his country’s infrastructure had recently experienced “higher dozens” of such attacks. 

He added, “The Czech Republic is a target. In the long term, it has been perceived by the Russian Federation as an enemy state.” 

Russia denies allegations

The Russian Embassy in Germany on Friday denied the allegations levelled against Moscow and said that its envoy “categorically rejected the accusations that Russian state structures were involved in the given incident… as unsubstantiated and groundless”. 

(With inputs from agencies)


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