UK Summons Russian Ambassador Over Cyberattacks, Ukraine

April 15, 2021 Updated: April 15, 2021

Britain’s Foreign Office on Thursday summoned the Russian ambassador over Russia’s cyberattacks against the West and its military build-up near its border with Ukraine.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “We see what Russia is doing to undermine our democracies. The UK and U.S. are calling out Russia’s malicious behaviour, to enable our international partners and businesses at home to better defend and prepare themselves against this kind of action.

“The UK will continue to work with allies to call out Russia’s malign behaviour where we see it.”

Earlier, the UK government said that Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) was behind a series of cyber intrusions, including the SolarWinds compromise.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a branch of the UK’s GCHQ intelligence agency, concluded that it is “highly likely” the SVR was responsible for gaining unauthorised access to SolarWinds “Orion” software and committing subsequent intrusions.

“The UK Government is deeply concerned about a pattern of malign behaviour by the Russian State,” said a spokesperson for the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO).

FCDO Permanent Under-Secretary Sir Philip Barton made clear to the Russian ambassador that the UK supports the actions announced by the U.S. government, the spokesperson said.

Earlier on Thursday, the Biden administration imposed sanctions on six Russian firms that support the country’s cyber activities, and 32 individuals were also hit with sanctions.

The U.S. government also expelled 10 Russian diplomats, including representatives of Russian intelligence services.

Sir Philip also expressed the UK’s concern over the Russian military build-up near the Ukrainian border and illegally-annexed Crimea.

Ukraine and the West have both expressed alarm about the concentration of troops along Russia’s western border, a buildup that the United States and NATO have described as the largest since 2014.

“These activities are threatening and destabilising,” the spokesperson said. “Russia needs to cease its provocations and de-escalate tensions in line with its international obligations.”

More than 14,000 people have died in seven years of fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists that erupted after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. Efforts to reach a political settlement have stalled, and violations of a shaky truce have become increasingly frequent in recent weeks.

Jack Philips and The Associated Press contributed to this report.