Novichok response: UK targets Russian military intelligence hacking with EU sanctions

News by Tony Morbin

The UK will push for new EU sanctions against those responsible for cyber-attacks and gross human rights violations - and for new listings under the existing regime against Russia.

Today in parliament prime minister Theresa May told MPs that the UK "will push for new EU sanctions regimes against those responsible for cyber-attacks and gross human rights violations - and for new listings under the existing regime against Russia".

The move is part of the government's response to the announcement by the police and intelligence agencies investigating the Novichok nerve agent attack in Salisbury that "based on a body of intelligence, the government has concluded that the two individuals named by the police and CPS (as responsible for the attack) are officers from the Russian military intelligence service, also known as the GRU".

The sanctions would be added to a comprehensive package to tackle hybrid threats agreed by the EU. It was noted that the G7 had also agreed a Rapid Response Mechanism to share intelligence on hostile state activity. And it was repeated that NATO has substantially strengthened its collective deterrence, including through a new Cyber Operations Centre.

May particularly highlighted the role of Russian Military Intelligence, saying, "We know that the GRU has played a key part in malign Russian activity in recent years. And on the basis of what we have learnt in the Salisbury investigation - and what we know about this organisation more broadly - we must now step up our collective efforts, specifically against the GRU.

"We are increasing our understanding of what the GRU is doing in our countries, shining a light on their activities, exposing their methods and sharing them with our allies, just as we have done with Salisbury."

She added, "Together with our allies we will deploy the full range of tools from across our National Security apparatus in order to counter the threat posed by the GRU."

The GRU has been identified as being behind a wide range of hacking attacks, including those on the US Democratic Party, as well as governments and political organisations around the world.

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