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Same Old Story: Raab Joins Choir of Accusations Against Russia

© AP Photo / Matt DunhamDominic Raab
Dominic Raab - Sputnik International
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On Thursday, Moscow refuted allegations by Britain's National Cyber Security Centre that Russia-linked hackers tried to crack the technology of COVID-19 vaccine developers in the UK, the US, and Canada.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has accused Russian intelligence services of trying to steal data related to development of a COVID-19 vaccine by Western countries.

"We're absolutely confident that the Russian intelligence agencies were engaged in a cyber attack on [coronavirus vaccine-related] research and development efforts and organisations in this country and internationally with a view either to sabotage or to profit from the R&D [research and development] that was taking place”, Raab told Sky News on Sunday.

He blamed the Russian government for being engaged in "outrageous and reprehensible activity at the time that the world is coming together to try and tackle COVID-19, particularly come up with a global solution for a vaccine".

In an apparent nod to the vaccine development, the Foreign Secretary added that Russia, as "a leading member of the international community" and UN Security Council permanent member, should be involved in that "collaborative international effort".

'No Sense' in Hacking Accusations, Russian Envoy Says 

Raab made the remarks as Russia's Ambassador to the UK Andrei Kelin underscored in an interview with the BBC earlier on Sunday that he doesn’t believe "in this story at all" because "there is no sense in it".

"In the modern-day world, it is impossible to attribute hacker attacks to any country", the envoy pointed out. He recalled that UK-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, dealing with tests of a COVID-19 vaccine developed at Oxford University, has already signed a contract with the Russian company "R-Pharm", which will produce the vaccine if it proves effective.

Kelin spoke after Alexander Gintsburg, head of Russia's Gamaleya Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, stressed on Friday that the institute had already produced a coronavirus vaccine that is "patented, unique", and more advanced than that of Western competitors. According to him, the institute will be happy to share the technology with foreign colleagues.

He pointed out that no accusations have been voiced by fellow scientists from other countries, because "they understand that it [hacking allegations] was complete nonsense and a purely political move". The Gamaleya vaccine is already being clinically tested on humans at two Moscow-based medical facilities, including Sechenov University and the Burdenko Main Military Clinical Hospital.

Additionally questioning Raab's comments was a statement by UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric who told reporters on Thursday that the United Nations has "no comment or information" about the alleged hack attack by a Russia-linked cyber group targeting information concerning the development of a potential COVID-19 vaccine in the West.

A scientist conducts sample​ sedimentation during the research and development of a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a laboratory of BIOCAD biotechnology company in Saint Petersburg, Russia June 11, 2020. - Sputnik International
Tests of Russia's COVID-19 Vaccine Conducted in Compliance With Regulations
Also, UK Minister of State for Security James Brokenshire told Sky News that Britain does not have any evidence that alleged Russian cyber attacks had hindered the process of developing a vaccine.

The statement was preceded by Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov emphasising on Thursday that Moscow finds hacking attack-related accusations "unacceptable".

"We have no information on who could have hacked pharmaceutical companies and research centres in the UK. We can say only one thing, Russia has nothing to do with these attempts", he added.  

Earlier on Thursday, the UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) accused Russia-linked hackers of attempting to steal data on the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, suggesting that a group called APT29, also known as "the Dukes" or "Cozy Bear", was behind the hacking attempt, and was "almost certainly" tied to Russia's state intelligence services.

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