Minister: Russia’s FSB cyber attacks on UK aimed at undermining democracy

Cyber-attacks against public figures in the United Kingdom thought to be the work of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s security agency, are aimed at undermining democratic processes, Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna says.

Estonia stands alongside its key ally, Britain, in responding to the attacks and in working towards the protection of cyber space, the minister added.

The minister said: “The statement by the government of the United Kingdom that Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has been conducting cyber attacks for years against democratic institutions in the UK with the aim of undermining the democratic process proves once again that Russia poses a threat not only in Ukraine, where it is waging a bloody war of aggression; instead, it attempts to inflict damage in other countries as well.”

“Estonia stands up for countries respecting international law in cyberspace. We consider it crucial to preserve an open, stable and safe cyberspace. To this end, states must act responsibly and follow the norms of international law,” Minister Tsahkna went on, via a press release.

The minister added that Estonia backs the UK’s statement to the effect that recent mass cyber attacks were the work of the FSB, more specifically an outfit called the Star Blizzard group.

Most EU and other allied nations are taking the same line.

“We assure [the UK] that Estonia and all our closest allies are committed to protecting cyberspace and are ready to give a full response to threats posed by cyber attacks,” Minister Tsahkna added.

The UK has charged the FSB with carrying out a sustained cyber-hacking campaign which has targeted politicians and other public figures, ahead of a likely general election in that country next year, as well as the presidential election in the US next November.

The BBC reports that authorities both in the UK and the US have taken “some months” to establish with sufficient confidence that the FSB is behind the attacks; past attacks by such groups have also led to leaks of sensitive information, including data related to the December 12, 2019 general election in Britain.

MPs from across the political spectrum, civil servants, the staff of think-tanks and other NGOs, journalists, academics and others public figures have reportedly had their private emails hacked.

Russia denies it is behind the activities.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, has called the Star Blizzard group’s actions “completely unacceptable.”

Speaking in Washington where he was on an official visit, Cameron said that: “I can also announce today that we are sanctioning two individuals connected to the Russian intelligence agency the FSB, for trying to interfere in our democracy.”

“Today we’re taking the extra step of issuing those sanctions and naming the individuals /…/ to call Russia out, to say we know what you’re doing, and it has to stop,” Cameron went on.

Foreign Office Minister Leo Docherty told the House of Commons on Thursday that Russia’s ambassador has been summonsed; one of the two individuals being sanctioned as a result of the attacks is reportedly a serving FSB officer.

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