Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE) issued a statement on Thursday in which he expressed Estonia’s support for the UK and the Netherlands in standing up against irresponsible cyber-attacks.
“Today we have seen confirmations of serious instances of trying to undermine stability in cyberspace,” the statement read. “Estonia supports the assessment revealed by the UK National Cyber Security Centre identifying a campaign by the Russian military intelligence service GRU to organise cyber-attacks against civilian targets worldwide. Furthermore, we stand by the Netherlands following today’s announcement by Dutch Minister of Defence Ank Bijleveld about the prevention of a cyber attack on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the subsequent deportation of four GRU officers.
“Cyber-attacks against international institutions, democratic elections and civilian critical infrastructure decrease stability in cyberspace and undermine the rules-based international order,” it stands in the statement. “Cyber-attacks pose a risk for resilience and integrity of the digital domain, on which our economies and societies depend. Such attacks disrespect the norms of responsible state behavior and violate international law.
“Cyber-attacks causing serious economic and political consequences cannot be tolerated,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. “Estonia expresses solidarity with the UK and the Netherlands in standing up against irresponsible cyber-attacks and finding the appropriate response together with allies.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday also warned Russia to halt its “reckless” behaviour amid a series of global cyber-attacks blamed on Moscow, and said NATO allies stand united behind the UK and Dutch governments. In a statement issued during a meeting of NATO defence ministers, Stoltenberg said that “NATO allies stand in solidarity with the decision by the Dutch and British governments to call out Russia on its blatant attempts to undermine international law and institutions.”
He said that “Russia must stop its reckless pattern of behaviour, including the use of force against its neighbours, attempted interference in election processes, and widespread disinformation campaigns.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte released a joint statement condemning the Russian military intelligence unit GRU for a series of alleged global cybercrimes. The two leaders said on Thursday that they will “defend international institutions from those that seek do to them harm.”
They spoke after officials from both countries blamed the GRU for a series of attacks against the international chemical weapons watchdog and other agencies, including the World Anti-Doping Agency and groups investigating the 2014 Malaysian Airlines crash over Ukraine.
May and Rutte said that the attacks “demonstrate again the GRU’s disregard for the global values and rules that keep us all safe.”
UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said that “where Russia acts in an indiscriminate and reckless way, where they have done in terms of these cyber-attacks, we will be exposing them.
“This is not the actions of a great power,” Williamson said. “This is the actions of a pariah state.”
Russia on Thursday dismissed the accusations as “fantasies.”
The 29 NATO allies are discussing cybersecurity at talks in Brussels, with the US, the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands due to announce that they will provide offensive cyber-capabilities for use by NATO.