Success Looks Like This

4 October 2018


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Russians Caught Hacking Anti-Chemical Weapons Body


As if further proof of the malignancy of the Putin regime were needed, Dutch authorities disrupted a Russian cyber-attack on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons earlier this year, according to Dutch military intelligence and British authorities who aided in the action. In April, four GRU officers were expelled from the Netherlands after being caught in flagrante in attacking the OPCW. Naturally, the Russians deny all of this, but they would, wouldn't they.

The Guardian reported today, "The team of four GRU officers travelling on official Russian passports entered the Netherlands on 10 April. On 13 April they parked a car carrying specialist hacking equipment outside the headquarters of the OPCW in The Hague. At that point the Dutch counter-terrorism officers intervened to disrupt the operation and the four GRU officers were ordered to leave the country."

British ambassador to the Netherlands, Peter Wilson told the Guardian that "intelligence from the laptops seized from one of the Russian operatives showed that they had previously also launched a cyber-attack during a world anti-doping conference in Lausanne, as well as travelling to Malaysia during the investigation into flight MH17, which international investigators said was shot down by a Russian military missile."

Because the GRU operatives have diplomatic immunity, nothing can be done to them beyond deportation. That said, publishing their faces from their passports, which were consecutively numbered (poor spycraft by the GRU on that point), will help ensure that their future cyber-activities will have to be launched from Holy Mother Russia.

Precisely what they hoped to achieve in gaining access to the OPCW servers is difficult to say, but given the way the GRU has operated historically, the spies would figure that out once they had broken in. Their main objective is to clean up the messes Russian adventurism has created, and exactly how that happens is not important. If they could alter data to cast suspicions away from the Kremlin, they would do that. If they could destroy or corrupt files that incriminated Moscow, that would happen. Tactics are less illuminating than strategy in this situation.

The best defense in against the GRU here is a two-pronged counter-attack. British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson explained, "these are not the actions of a great state; these are the actions of a pariah state and we will continue working with allies to isolate them and make them understand they cannot continue to conduct themselves in such a way."

In addition to isolation, monetary punishment is effective. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell stated, "If there is hard evidence that we can accuse the Russians of activities in our country which are unacceptable and even criminal, we have to hit them where it hurts: in the pocket. If we use our financial penalties effectively, that’s the way we can end the threats that we have from Russia at the moment." Financial penalties may sound like a slap on the wrist, but in fact, money taken away from the GRU is money it can't use in future operations. And of course, nothing pains Putin and his supporters as much at taking money away from them.

Be that as it may, one doesn't expect that this ends Russia's attempts to cover up the use of chemical weapons by its security forces and its Syrian allies.

© Copyright 2018 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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