Chemical watchdog, MH17 probe: Russian Federation is said to have targeted all

Logo for Russia's GRU intelligence agency

Image The GRUis Russia's largest foreign intelligence agency

The men were caught and expelled from the Netherlands.

Moscow on Thursday rejected the accusations, saying they were unworthy and part of a disinformation campaign created to damage Russian interests.

The BBC report also said countries worldwide including the United States, the UK, Canada, and the Netherlands suspect that Moscow coordinated various espionage attacks that span election hacking, disrupting anti-doping probes, and an attack on an American nuclear power firm.

Though, the minister sought to reassure Canadians that Canada's security agencies are working to protect national security, including a new national cyber security strategy.

But the accusations deepen Moscow's isolation at a time when its diplomatic ties with the West have been downgraded over the poisoning of an ex-spy in England and it is under US and European Union sanctions over its actions in Ukraine.

The British government on Thursday accused Russia's GRU military intelligence agency of "reckless and indiscriminate cyberattacks", blaming it for everything from the hacking of top athletes' medical data to disruptions on the Kiev subway system to attacks on the email accounts of the Democratic National Committee.

The British and Dutch accusations were unveiled as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defence ministers gathered in Brussels to present a united front to their Cold War-era foe.

British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said that these were "not the actions of a great power, this is the actions of a pariah state".

"The decision taken at the time of catching the operatives was to disrupt as quickly as possible so we deported them, it was not a police operation", the director of the Dutch intelligence service said.

The UK also received strong support from Australia and New Zealand.

Yesterday, however, the Russian leader showed his contempt for the former GRU-officer-turned-British agent, calling Mr Skripal a "scumbag".

The FBI said four of the GRU officers are also being charged with targeting organizations probing Russia's alleged use of chemical weapons, including the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain.

Maj Gen Eichelsheim said the group were planning to travel to Switzerland, to a laboratory in Spiez where the OPCW analysed samples.

"We want to bring them to Pittsburgh and we want them to stand trial, and we want to put them in jail", Brady said in the news conference.

Dutch authorities released the Russian diplomatic passports of the four men identifying them as Oleg Sotnikov, Alexei Morenets, Alexei Minin and Yevgeny Serebryakov.

In the indictment, prosecutors alleged that one of the Russian officers, Ivan Sergeyevich Yermakov, who was also charged by Mueller in the election-related hacking, performed "technical reconnaissance" on Westinghouse to gain access to IP addresses, domains and network ports starting in November 2014.

News of the Dutch operation came a day after Britain and Australia blamed the GRU for some of the biggest cyber attacks of recent years - including one on the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 United States presidential campaign.

The OPCW, in turn, was investigating the poisoning of GRU defector Sergei Skripal in which the nerve agent Novichok was used, a bold operation that British authorities dissected in a minute-by-minute surveillance camera montage last month. Sturgess died on July 8 after applying a substance to her wrists from a perfume bottle found by Rowley. Moscow replied with expulsions of Westerners.

Prosecutors say some of those accused were also involved in the thwarted hacking of the global chemical watchdog in the Netherlands, revealed by Dutch authorities earlier.

Dutch officials added that GRU agents had logged into Wi-Fi networks near a Malaysian hotel where investigators had gathered.

In 2016, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was hacked and documents were subsequently published online.

John Demers, US Assistant Attorney General for National Security, confirmed that known attack targets included the OPCW, sports bodies including Federation Internationale de Football Association and the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) and Westinghouse.

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