Embassy Press Officer replies to a media question regarding the speech on the cyber security by the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab

Question: Speaking at the National Cyber Security Centre’s CYBERUK conference on 12 May 2021, the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that ‘states like Russia’ have a responsibility to prosecute criminals operating from their territory, ‘not shelter them’. How would you comment on this?

Answer: The Embassy has on multiple occasions commented unfounded accusations of numerous ‘sins’ in cyberspace made against our country. It is disappointing that the British authorities keep using Russia as a negative example, while having no actual grounds for this.

Over the past few years we have repeatedly suggested to the UK, as well as to the USA and other countries, to develop professional cooperation to tackle the issues arising in this field. London is well aware of Russia’s National Computer Incident Response & Coordination Centre established in 2018. International cooperation in countering cyber attacks is part of its mission. In 2020 alone, the Centre suppressed 9 thousand sources of malicious online activity in the Russian address space at the request of colleagues from abroad (by the way, last year, majority of the attacks targeting Russia had been launched from the USA, Germany and the Netherlands). The UK has not even tried to refer to the Centre, though. It prefers resounding speeches and vague ‘sheltering criminals’ insinuations. At the same time, the British authorities consider it appropriate to simply ignore our requests for legal assistance – there has been no response to about 50 requests for extradition of criminals who had committed unlawful acts in the Russian territory.

Cyber security needs to be discussed at multilateral fora too, of course. It is Russia’s long-time position that universal rules for states’ responsible behaviour in the cyber space should be adopted under the UN auspices. These rules would introduce the principles of non-use of force, respect for state sovereignty, non-intervention in the countries’ internal affairs and respect for human rights into the digital dimension.

Within the UN framework, a working group established at Russian initiative has recently produced a report aimed at preventing conflicts in cyber space as well as its militarization. The document also stipulates for use of information technologies solely for peaceful purposes. A new group will gather next month with a broader mandate. The first organisational meeting of the UN Ad Hoc Committee to Elaborate a Comprehensive Convention on Countering the Use of Information and Communication Technologies for Criminal Purposes has just taken place – again, proposed by our country.

As you may see, we recognise the global nature of the cyber threats, and we promote constructive cooperation of all stakeholders on an equal footing. The response, as we see it in the case of the British Foreign Secretary’s recent speech, is a call to prevent Russia ‘from filling the multilateral vacuum’. What is it that London actually wants, then? We can not but regard these allegations as a piece of propaganda rather than a sign of genuine concern in regard to cyber security.

12 May 2021, 18:30