Russia’s embassy in the US has trashed charges against six alleged Russian military intelligence officers – accused of cyber attacks against the 2018 Olympics, the OPCW, France, Ukraine and Georgia – as aimed at a home audience.
“It’s absolutely clear that such stories have nothing to do with reality and are only aimed at fuelling Russophobic sentiment, a ‘witch hunt’ and a spy mania in the US. This has been a distinctive feature of Washington’s political life for several years already,” the Russian Embassy in Washington told the RIA Novosti news agency on Tuesday.
The embassy was responding to a flurry of damning accusations by the US Justice Department, which on Monday announced charges for six alleged Russian citizens – Yuriy Sergeyevich Andrienko, Sergey Vladimirovich Detistov, Pavel Valeryevich Frolov, Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev, Artem Valeryevich Ochichenko and Petr Nikolayevich Pliskin – for “conspiracy, computer hacking, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and false registration of a domain name.”
The alleged Russian nationals are facing sweeping charges that stem from an array of malware attacks that have targeted networks in a number of countries, including Ukraine and Georgia, and sought to undermine the Olympics held in Pyeongchang, South Korea two years ago.
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The presumed hackers, the indictment alleges, attempted to help the Russian government dodge responsibility for “its use of a weapons-grade nerve agent, Novichok, on foreign soil” – a reference to claims made by UK officials in 2018, who said it was “highly likely” Moscow tried to poison a former double agent and his daughter with a toxic substance. The hackers allegedly did so using a “spear phishing” campaign targeting the OPCW and British investigators. Russia has squarely denied the accusations that it was behind the Salisbury incident.
The fresh pile of allegations is another blow to Russia-US relations, the embassy said, adding that Washington seems to be hellbent on “destroying” the “once pragmatic” ties between the two nations, while forcing a “toxic view” of Russia on regular Americans.
It’s not in Russia’s national interests to carry out such attacks, the embassy insisted.
Russia respects sovereignty of other countries and does not meddle in their affairs
Alleged members of the same “GRU unit 74455” were previously indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for so-called “meddling” in the 2016 US presidential election. As with the indictments stemming from the fizzled-out Russiagate fiasco, the defendants are unlikely ever to be brought to a US court for a proper trial. The only indictment that was actually contested in court – against the so-called IRA troll farm – was dropped by the DOJ in March, due to lack of evidence.
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