LONDON: British foreign minister Dominic Raab on Thursday added to condemnation from the US and Canada and said it was completely unacceptable for Russian intelligence services to target research on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Intelligence agencies in the three nations alleged that the hacking group APT29, also known as Cozy Bear and said to be part of the Russian intelligence services, is attacking academic and pharmaceutical research institutions involved in coronavirus 9 vaccine development.
“It is completely unacceptable that the Russian Intelligence Services are targeting those working to combat the coronavirus pandemic,” Raab said, following a joint statement by British Canadian and US cybersecurity services.
“While others pursue their selfish interests with reckless behavior, the UK and its allies are getting on with the hard work of finding a vaccine and protecting global health.
“The UK will continue to counter those conducting such cyberattacks, and work with our allies to hold perpetrators to account.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, rejected the British accusations, saying: “We don’t have information about who may have hacked pharmaceutical companies and research centers in Britain."
“We may say one thing: Russia has nothing to do with those attempts,” Peskov said, according to the state news agency Tass.
Raab’s comments come after Britain also accused Russia on Thursday of trying to interfere in its 2019 general election by illicitly acquiring sensitive documents relating to a planned free trade agreement with Washington and leaking them online.
In response, a senior Russian lawmaker said the allegations were “anti-Russian nonsense” and undermined UK-Russia relations.