As the US presidential election looms larger every day, allegations of cyber crimes and attempts to influence the outcome have been fast and furious.
And the finger of accusation is pointed right at Russia.
This week, a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh returned an indictment charging six computer hackers, all of whom were residents and nationals of the Russian Federation and officers in Unit 74455 of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), a military intelligence agency, the US Department of Justice announced.
The indictment alleges the six current and former Russian military officers sought to disrupt through computer hacking the French election, the Winter Olympics and US hospitals and businesses, Canada’s CBC reported.
It details destructive attacks on a broad range of targets and implicates the same Kremlin unit that interfered in the 2016 US election.
The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre has also alleged that Russian military intelligence services were planning a cyber-attack on the Japanese-hosted Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo this summer, The Guardian reported.
While the allegations are no doubt serious, and western media are strongly influenced by the Five Eyes intelligence group, I wondered why no one had actually asked the Russians for a response to these and other allegations.
And so, I reached out to the Russia embassy in the UK, and they responded.
My vow as an editor with Asia Times was to run the response, as is, without changing a word.
This was their response:
Embassy comment with regard to new accusations against Russia
Accusations of numerous cyber attacks (conducted without any meaningful purpose or result) that British authorities mount against Russia on a nearly daily basis form another cycle of their unprovoked malicious campaign.
We don’t see any reason to comment on the (missing) substance of these allegations. It has to be noted however that the UK is fully aware of the existing mechanisms of professional cooperation in case of suspicious cyber activity.
Numerous countries, including Western ones, have established such cooperation with Russia. The UK has chosen to ignore those mechanisms.
Quite obviously, the task that London is setting itself is not to get to the bottom of the alleged cyber incidents, but to use this issue as part of a deliberate disinformation campaign aimed at discrediting Russia.
The current cycle of this campaign coincides with the US Presidential election.
The purpose is clear: to create extra ground for accusing Russia of “meddling into the election” as well as to prevent any possibility of improved Russia-US relations after the vote.
At the same time, references to the Olympic Games in South Korea and Japan seek to spoil Russia’s constructive relations with those countries.
This is hardly new, especially if one recalls the multiple efforts London has spent to draw a wedge between Russia and, for instance, Ukraine and Georgia.
These efforts are undermining Russian-British relations, but also Britain’s international standing.
Kind regards, Press Office
Russian Embassy in London