U.S. Secretary for Defence Jim Mattis, right, talks to Britain's Defence Minister Gavin Williamson before a signing ceremony following a meeting of NATO defence ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, Pool)

UK minister: Russia cyberattacks actions of a 'pariah state'

October 04, 2018 - 2:44 am

BRUSSELS (AP) — British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson on Thursday branded a series of global cyberattacks blamed on Russia as the reckless actions of a "pariah state" and said that the U.K. and its NATO allies would uncover such activities in the future.

"Where Russia acts in an indiscriminate and reckless way, where they have done in terms of these cyberattacks, we will be exposing them," Williamson told reporters in Brussels at talks with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and their NATO counterparts.

His remarks came after British and Australian officials said the Russian military intelligence unit GRU is behind a wave of global cyberattacks. Britain's National Cyber Security Center says four new attacks are associated with the GRU as well as earlier cyberattacks.

It cites attacks on the World Anti-Doping agency, Ukrainian transport systems, the 2016 U.S. presidential race and others as very likely the work of the GRU.

British officials have blamed the GRU for the March nerve agent attack on Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury. Russia denies any involvement.

The revelation comes as the U.S., Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands were due Thursday to offer their offensive cyber-capabilities to the NATO military alliance for use in combating such attacks.

"We are not going to be backward leaning. We are going to actually make it clear that where Russia acts, we are going to be exposing that action," Williamson said.

"This is not the actions of a great power. This is the actions of a pariah state, and we will continue working with allies to isolate them; make them understand they cannot continue to conduct themselves in such a way," he said.

Earlier, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne issued a joint statement that Australian intelligence agencies agreed that GRU "is responsible for this pattern of malicious cyber activity." They said Australia wasn't significantly impacted, but the cyberattacks caused economic damage and disrupted civilian infrastructure in other places.

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Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this report.

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