The Netherlands Accuses Russia of Attempts to Hack Into MH17 Investigation

Photo from Petro Poroshenko’s Facebook page

The Dutch defense minister says that Russia’s military intelligence unit GRU attempted cybercrimes targeting an international chemical weapons watchdog and the investigation into the 2014 Malaysian Airlines crash over Ukraine, the Associated Press reports.

Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld said the GRU’s hacking attempts on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which she said took place in April, were disrupted by authorities. Four Russian intelligence officers were immediately expelled from the Netherlands, she said.

Speaking about Russia’s hacking attempts into the MH17 crash investigation, she said: “We have been aware of the interest of Russian intelligence services in this investigation and have taken appropriate measures.” She added that “We remain very alert about this.”

On May 24 this year, the Dutch-led five-nation joint investigation team announced on May 24 that the Buk missile came from the 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade of the Russian army in Kursk.

On May 25, the Dutch and Australian governments issued a joint statement laying responsibility on Russia for its part in the crash.

On Sept. 17, 2018, Russia’s ministry of defense stated that the missile, which was used to shoot down MH17, was sent to Ukraine back in 1986, and was not returned to Russia. Russia claimed that the video evidence of the international investigation team on Russia’s involvement is fake.

In May, the European Union urged the Russian Federation to accept responsibility for the MH17 crash and to help locate the perpetrators.

NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has warned Russia to halt its “reckless” behavior.

In a statement issued today during a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussles, 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.”

Stoltenberg is referring to the the United Kingdom, who also accused GRU today of “indiscriminate and reckless cyber attacks targeting political institutions, businesses, media and sport.”

The United States Justice Department has charged seven Russian military intelligence officers with hacking anti-doping agencies and other organizations.

The indictment says the hacking was often conducted remotely. If that wasn’t successful, the hackers would conduct “on-site” or “close access” hacking operations with trained GRU members traveling with sophisticated equipment to target their victims through Wi-Fi networks.