Germany protests to Russia over wave of cyber attacks
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Germany has accused Russia of launching a series of cyber attacks on politicians amid suspicions that Moscow is meddling in this month’s elections to determine who will succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor.
The German Foreign Ministry said it held Russia responsible for the unlawful targeting of a number of national and regional politicians with “phishing” emails to gain access to personal details.
These “unacceptable measures” “posed a danger to Germany’s security and its democratic decision-making processes, and [placed] And Andrea Sasse, a spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry, said bilateral relations are “a heavy burden on bilateral relations”.
Sassi said Foreign Minister Miguel Berger conveyed Germany’s protest directly to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov at a meeting of the two countries’ security policy working group last week.
The warning comes ahead of what appears to be the most open election in Germany’s modern history, with opinion polls pointing to an inconclusive result that could lead to months of uncertainty in Europe’s most powerful country. The curtain will come down on Merkel’s 16-year reign as chancellor.
Some opinion polls point to the center-left Social Democrats and their candidate for Finance Minister Olaf Scholz winning. that INSA . Poll Monday’s publication put the Social Democrats on 26 percent, the CDU/CSU on 20.5 percent, the opposition Green Party on 15.5 percent, and the pro-business Liberal Democrats on 12.5 percent.
It is not clear which party Moscow would like to see win the elections. Schulz and Armin Laschet, the CDU/CSU candidate for chancellor, both hit rainy tones on Russia.
However, Green Party candidate Annalina Barbuk is highly critical of the Kremlin and opposes Nord Stream 2, the trans-Baltic pipeline that brings Russian gas directly to Europe, bypassing Ukraine. Critics say it will increase Europe’s dependence on Russian energy exports.
Concern is growing in Berlin that Russia will try to repeat its interference in the US elections in 2016. Thomas Haldenwang, head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency BfV, said in July that foreign intelligence agencies regard the Bundestag elections as an “important goal” and were exploring ways to influence the outcome.
Germany has long accused Moscow of seeking access to the digital networks of its political institutions. Merkel said last year that there was “compelling evidence” that Russian forces were behind a massive hack of the Bundestag in 2015 that also targeted her emails.
The two countries also clashed over the killing of an exiled Chechen rebel leader in a Berlin park in 2019, which Germany said was carried out on the orders of the Kremlin.
Sassi said that in recent months, hackers have been using “phishing” emails to try to gain access to the personal login details of members of parliament in the Bundestag and in Germany’s 16 regional parliaments.
“These attacks could be preparations for influence operations, for example disinformation campaigns linked to the Bundestag elections,” she said.
The Kremlin and the Russian Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sassi said the “Ghostwriter” cyber group, which for years combined “traditional cyberattacks with disinformation and influence operations,” appears to be behind the attacks.
It said Berlin had “credible information” that its activities “can be attributed to a Russian state cyber actor, in particular the Russian Military Intelligence, the Russian Military Intelligence.”
Haldenwang said in July that the hacking attempts could be a precursor to “hacks and leaks” on social media in which the personal information obtained by hackers was selectively and misleadingly disseminated and also falsified with manipulated information in order to discredit individuals or parties.
In 2018, US authorities accused 12 Russian intelligence officers of hacking Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential election that was won by Donald Trump. They said the Russians stole and leaked emails as part of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the elections.
Meanwhile, US intelligence concluded in March of this year that Russian President Vladimir Putin had authorized “influence operations” aimed at supporting Trump’s bid for re-election in 2020.
Last year, the German Federal Court issued an arrest warrant for Dmitriy Baden, a Russian man allegedly hacking Russian military intelligence believed to be behind the 2015 attack on the Bundestag.
Additional reporting by Max Seddon in Moscow