Russian spy agency accused of hacking attempt into MH17 crash probe: Dutch defence minister

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denies the latest allegations of Russian hacking attempts.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denies the latest allegations of Russian hacking attempts.

London Russia's military intelligence unit attempted to hack the UN chemical weapons watchdog and the investigation into the 2014 Malaysian Airlines crash over Ukraine, which killed all 298 people on board including 27 Australians, the Dutch defence minister has said.

The Dutch allegations came as British and Australian officials blamed Russia's GRU for increasingly "brazen" activities throughout the globe and for trying to cover up its purported participation in events such as the nerve agent poisoning in Britain in March and the shooting down of MH17.

Russia has consistently denied any involvement.

Dutch Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld said the GRU's hacking attempts on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which she said took place in April, were disrupted by authorities. Four Russian intelligence officers were immediately expelled from the Netherlands, she said.

Speaking about Russia's hacking attempts into the MH17 crash investigation on Thursday, she said: "We have been aware of the interest of Russian intelligence services in this investigation and have taken appropriate measures."

She added that "We remain very alert about this."

NATO's chief Jens Stoltenberg has also warned Russia to stop 'reckless' cyber attacks, backing the British and Dutch governments.

"NATO allies stand in solidarity with the decision by the Dutch and British governments to call out Russia on its blatant attempts to undermine international law and institutions," Mr Stoltenberg said in a statement issued on Thursday during a meeting of NATO defence ministers

"Russia must stop its reckless pattern of behaviour, including the use of force against its neighbours, attempted interference in election processes, and widespread disinformation campaigns."

The 29 allies are discussing cybersecurity at talks in Brussels, with the US, Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands due to announce that they will provide offensive cyber-capabilities for use by NATO.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Thursday dismissed the new accusations as "big fantasies".

Britain's National Cyber Security Centre cited four new attacks associated with the GRU targeting the World Anti-Doping agency, Ukrainian transport systems, the 2016 US presidential race and others.

British officials earlier blamed the GRU for the March nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury.

Yulia Skripal, the daughter of an ex-Russian spy poisoned in England.

Yulia Skripal, the daughter of an ex-Russian spy poisoned in England.

The British Defence Minister said Russia's actions were those of a "pariah state" and that Britain and its NATO allies will expose such activities in the future.

"Where Russia acts in an indiscriminate and reckless way, where they have done in terms of these cyber attacks, we will be exposing them," Gavin Williamson said on Thursday.

"This is not the actions of a great power. This is the actions of a pariah state."

Earlier, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne issued a joint statement that Australian intelligence agencies agreed that GRU "is responsible for this pattern of malicious cyber activity".

They said Australia wasn't significantly affected, but the cyber attacks caused economic damage and disrupted civilian infrastructure in other places.

Britain's National Cyber Security Center says four new attacks are associated with GRU as well as earlier cyber attacks.


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