Russian hackers accused of targeting United Nations chemical weapons watchdog, MH17 files

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WADA targeted by Russian military intelligence service GRU, says UK government

The operation by Russia's GRU military intelligence targeted the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, according to Dutch Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld.

"It's some kind of a diabolical perfume cocktail [of allegations]", TASS news agency quoted Zakharova as telling reporters.

Seven GRU officers allegedly hacked 250 athletes from 30 countries and antidoping organizations, as well as a U.S. nuclear power company and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the Hague.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis said the West has "a wide variety of responses" available.

"Basically, the Russians got caught with their equipment, with people who were doing it and they have to pay the piper, they are going to have to be held to account".

Britain helped the Netherlands with the operation, they added.

The victims included about 250 athletes from 30 countries, along with anti-doping agencies around the world.

John Demers, US Assistant Attorney General for National Security, confirmed the seven agents were indicted in connection to the attack on the OPCW, on football's governing body FIFA and the US and global anti-doping agencies, and on the US nuclear energy company Westinghouse among others.

But for maximum effect the announcement was timed to coincide with Thursday's United States indictment of seven suspected Russian. The ex-military officer had been selling secrets to the British MI6 while working for the GRU.

Three of the defendants were also charged in the hacking of United States persons involved in the 2016 election, Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division John Demers said during a news conference, but the current indictment does not arise out of special counsel Robert Mueller's work.

Dutch authorities said they had disrupted the attempt to hack into the Hague-based OPCW in April, a time when the watchdog was looking into both the attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Britain and chemical strikes in Syria the West has blamed on Russia's ally President Bashar al-Assad.

The head of the Dutch MIVD intelligence service, Major-General Onno Eichelsheim, told the news conference that the men travelled to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on April 4, on Russian diplomatic passports. Those were Minin, Sotnikov, Serebriakov and Morenets.

Russia's GRU spy agency has suffered a new humiliation as a list of over 300 names of suspected agents has been discovered online.

The hack and release of sports figures' medical data in 2016 and the downing of Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 also allegedly carry the GRU's fingerprints.

The men were not successful in breaching OPCW systems, the minister said. Russian Federation says the two men Britain blames for the attack were tourists who twice visited Skripal's home town for sighteseeing during a weekend trip to England, a story Britain has dismissed as far-fetched.

The leaders of Britain and the Netherlands on Thursday condemned the GRU for "reckless" and "brazen" activities around the world and vowed to defend vital worldwide agencies from Russian aggression.

A statement from Global Affairs Canada said the latest incidents are part of a malicious pattern of behaviour that includes Russia's 2016 attack on the Canadian headquarters of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

"With its aggressive cyber-campaigns, we see the GRU trying to clean up Russia's own mess - be it the doping uncovered by Wada [the World Anti-Doping Agency] or the nerve agent identified by the OPCW", Mr Wilson said.

From one confiscated machine, investigators extracted information that one Dutch official said contained details of a cyber-operation based here that targeted the AGC and PDRM.

Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the UK's Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, tweeted: "The catalogue of evidence shows why the Dutch are excellent partners and that the decades of theft have stripped Russia's intelligence of the skills they once had".

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