Russia on Wednesday denied carrying out a cyberattack against Ukraine’s financial system, and rejected the accusation as a smear campaign from western governments.
British and then American officials blamed Russia for the cyberattacks, which took place in June 2017, in a pair of statements last week. They were quickly joined by officials from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand — meaning that every member of an intelligence-sharing bloc known as Five Eyes laid the cyberattack at Russia’s door.
“A new era of information warfare against Russia is upon us,” the Russian side replied. “In keeping with the tradition adopted by the West in general, London failed to provide any specific facts, preferring to make groundless and exasperating statements and allusions and pretending that everything is clear even without coming up with any evidence.”
The United Kingdom accused the Russian military of launching the cyberattack, which targeted Ukraine’s financial sector and eventually spread to businesses in other European countries. The malware was designed to look like ransomware — a malicious program that locks users out of a computer system until they pay a ransom — but, in fact, it caused a permanent loss of data for victims.
“The attack showed a continued disregard for Ukrainian sovereignty,” Tariq Ahmad, a U.K. diplomat who specializes in cyber issues, said on February 15. “The Kremlin has positioned Russia in direct opposition to the West: It doesn’t have to be that way. We call upon Russia to be the responsible member of the international community it claims to be rather then secretly trying to undermine it.”
Russia denied the charges, also cited a pair of cyber-attacks directed at Iran’s illicit nuclear program — both of which have been widely attributed to the U.S. — to suggest that western allegations about Russian cyberattacks are hypocritical.
“For instance, in 2010 Stuxnet and Flame malware was used to stage a targeted attack against Iran’s strategic facilities, resulting in losses worth billions and striking a heavy blow to the country’s development,” the Foreign Ministry said. “It has to be said that the tracks left behind these attacks suggest that the countries that persist with their groundless accusations against Russia are not without a sin.”