Accusations against Russia of hacking US websites - from regular briefing by Maria Zakharova

October 13, 2016

I would like to cite data related to accusations that our country is implicated in hacker attacks on US websites. This is commented by President Vladimir Putin and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov. Let me dwell on this issue as well.

On October 7, the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security published a joint statement accusing Russia for the nth time of organising hacker attacks on US political institutions and persons.

The US side has failed to provide any facts or arguments to corroborate its allegations. Moreover, the statement says that the US intelligence community is not – I quote – “now in a position to attribute this activity to the Russian Government.”

Not so long ago, a White House spokesperson said that they, in fact, had no proof, but it was not needed at all because Russia would deny it anyway. First you provide proof and then we’ll talk! For this long, you haven’t bothered to make available even a single material. Jumping to conclusion that proof would be refuted or denied is an insane approach.

Against this backdrop, we are perplexed to hear a White House spokesperson say that the administration intends to come up with a proportional response in connection with the hacker attacks on US websites. There is no proof implicating Russia, or Russian officials, or the Russian side in certain hacker attacks, nor is it presented by anyone. But the situation seems to be used as a pretext for Washington’s hacker attacks. I at least don’t see any other reading. What does this response mean? A response of this kind implies hacking – actually, it implies committing a cybercrime. It should be mentioned that Washington has repeatedly hurled similar unsupported accusations against Russia, but it never provided any facts.

We think that this malpractice is part of the US election campaign, used in the interests of one of the political parties to garner votes. Having had an earful from America on cyber threats and hacker attacks, we would like to ask this. Does the US administration want to follow the path of global cyber conflict to secure the victory of a certain candidate and lobby for one group in the US elections? The threats we hear are about nothing other than a cyber conflict.

Please note that in 2013 Russia and the United States signed an agreement on confidence-building measures in the area of information and communications technologies. If one of the parties suspects the other of launching hacker attacks from its territory, the agreement directs the parties to use the communications channels existing between Russia and the United States, the special hotlines, including at a high political level. This mechanism was developed to obviate any doubt or misunderstanding, and, most importantly, to jointly resolve disputable situations. Let me stress that we have received no inquiries, let alone accusations of having committed hacker attacks on some US websites, via any of the three existing official channels. One of the explanations of this failure is that these inquiries must be thoroughly substantiated, whereas the US has no substantiations – that is, facts – whatsoever.

I would like to remind our US colleagues once again that Russia has, for a year now, repeatedly offered the US administration to hold bilateral interagency consultations on combating illegal actions in the information space. We reaffirm our readiness for this dialogue because we are well aware how sensitive this sphere is. We still hope to receive a comprehensible answer from the US.

It is obvious that the need to develop the rules of responsible behaviour by states in the information space is of particular importance in this context. It is the Russian Federation, jointly with the SCO member states, that advanced the initiative to draft these rules, which would make it incumbent on states to prevent conflicts in the information space, respect state sovereignty of other countries, and pledge not to use information and communications technologies to interfere in internal affairs of others. Disseminated as an official UN document, these rules are open to accession by all states.

The UN Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security has a special role to play in drafting these rules. We hope that this Group, which includes experts from 25 countries, including Russia and the United States, will be able to prepare a UN General Assembly resolution on rules of behaviour for states in the information space, which, as we hope, will be supported by all member states of the United Nations.

Our great hope is that commonsense will prevail in Washington and that the outgoing US administration will not edge towards a global cyber confrontation. There are all necessary mechanisms for addressing any complex disputed issues as they arise. They simply need to be used but they can only be used when you have facts and proofs handy. Otherwise, if your grievances are from the category of inventions, there is nothing to talk about.

Source: Foreign Ministry of Russia