Georgia blames Russia for cyberattack, US, UK agree

1010 WINS Newsroom
February 20, 2020 - 12:55 pm

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Georgian authorities on Thursday accused Russia's military intelligence of launching a large-scale cyberattack that targeted the government and private organizations with the goal of destabilizing the ex-Soviet nation .

The United States and Britain also weighed in, strongly condemning the alleged action by Russia in October. A senior Russian diplomat dismissed the accusations.

Georgia's Foreign Ministry said the Oct. 28 cyberattack was “targeted at Georgia’s national security and intended to harm Georgian citizens and government structures by disrupting and paralyzing the functionality of various organizations, causing anxiety among the general public.”

The attack was designed to hinder Georgia's efforts to join the European Union and NATO, and “goes against international norms and principles," the Foreign Ministry alleged.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Russia's GRU military intelligence for the attack. Pompeo said in a statement that the operation “directly affected the Georgian population, disrupted operations of several thousand Georgian government and privately run websites, and interrupted the broadcast of at least two major television stations.”

Pompeo described it as part of a “continuing pattern of reckless Russian GRU cyber-operations against a number of countries.”

“These operations aim to sow division, create insecurity, and undermine democratic institutions,” he added.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko rejected the accusations, saying in remarks carried by the state RIA Novosti news agency that “Russia hasn't interfered and has no intention to interfere in Georgia's domestic affairs in any way.”

A Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Carla Gleason, said the cyberattack was “just one more example of how Russian malign behavior erodes transparency and predictability, undermines the rules-based international order, and violates the sovereignty of its neighbors.”

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said “the GRU's reckless and brazen campaign of cyberattacks against Georgia, a sovereign and independent nation, is totally unacceptable.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also condemned the attack, saying the military alliance “continues to provide Georgia with strong political and practical support, including on cyber-defense.”

In 2008, Russia fought a brief war with Georgia, which had made a botched attempt to regain control over the breakaway province of South Ossetia. Moscow then recognized the independence of South Ossetia and another breakaway Georgian province, Abkhazia, and set up military bases there.