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Thu, 22 October 2020

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Dominic Raab accuses Russia of 'pariah-like behaviour' over alleged coronavirus vaccine theft

Dominic Raab accuses Russia of 'pariah-like behaviour' over alleged coronavirus vaccine theft

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab (Credit: BBC)

2 min read

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has accused Russia of 'pariah-like' behaviour amid claims the country's intelligence services attempted to steal coronavirus vaccine research.

His comments came after a joint statement from Britain, the United States and Canada this week revealed hackers APT29 had targeted research bodies looking into Covid-19 around the world, including in the UK.

The allegations, denied by Russian ambassador Andrei Kelin, had not been "thrown out" randomly by the Government, Mr Raab said, and instead were based on an examination of evidence in partnership with other countries. 

"The key thing here is the deterrent of us, internationally with our partners, calling Russia out so that the world knows that they are engaged in this frankly pariah-like behavior, when the rest of the world is trying to come together in the spirit of collaboration to tackle this awful virus," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

The Foreign Secretary said he was "absolutely confident that the Russian intelligence agencies were engaged in a cyber attack on research and development efforts...with a view either to sabotage or to profit".

He told Sky's Sophy Ridge: "I think it's outrageous and reprehensible that the Russian government is engaged in this activity."

Mr Klein, meanwhile, told the BBC: "I don't believe in this story at all, there is no sense in it. I learned about their (the hackers) existence from British media. 

“In this world, to attribute any kind of computer hackers to any country, it is impossible.”

But Mr Raab dismissed the claims, saying: "Of course he will ne rolled out to trot out that line."

"Russia always does this when it's behaved in such an egregious way.  They denied responsibility for the Salisbury attack in 2018," he added. "And we are calling them out.

"And it's important as with Salisbury, as with their cyber attacks, and the other nefarious behavior Russia engages in, we are going to hold them to account and call them out.

"But I'm not surprised in the least that the Russian ambassador is wheeled out to deny it."

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