Russia’s UK ambassador rejects coronavirus vaccine hacking allegations

Andrei Kelin

Caption of the image

Andrei Kelin has been a Russian ambassador since November last year

The Russian ambassador to the UK dismissed allegations that his country’s intelligence services tried to steal research on coronavirus vaccines.

“I don’t believe in this story at all, it doesn’t make sense,” Andrei Kelin said on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

UK security services said Thursday that hackers targeting vaccine developers “almost certainly” operated as “part of the Russian intelligence services”.

Kelin also dismissed suggestions that Russia would interfere in British politics.

Earlier this week, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that the Russians almost certainly tried to interfere in the 2019 British election through illegally acquired documents.

The documents, which emerged online, detailed the trade discussions between the United Kingdom and the United States and were used by the Labor Party in its election campaign.

“I don’t see any sense in using this as a matter of interference,” said Kelin.

“We don’t interfere at all. We don’t see any point of interference because for us, if it will be [the] Conservative party or Labor party in charge of this country, we will try to establish relationships and establish better relationships than now. “

The interview comes a few days before a report on allegations of Russia’s wider interference in British democracy should be published by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee.

Security services from the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada reported on Thursday that a group of hackers called APT29 had targeted various organizations involved in the development of the Covid-19 vaccine, with the likely intention of stealing information.

The UK’s National Cyber ​​Security Center (NCSC) said over 95% were confident that the group, also known as The Dukes or Cozy Bear, was part of Russian intelligence services.

Asked if it was true, Kelin did not answer directly, but said, “I learned about their existence from the British media.”

“In this world, attributing any type of computer hacker to any country is impossible,” he said.

His comments came when AstraZeneca announced a collaboration with the Russian pharmaceutical company R-Pharm to produce the coronavirus vaccine under development at the University of Oxford, should it prove effective.

Elsewhere in the interview, Kelin said that Russian officials studying the country’s recent constitutional referendum have discovered “several cyber attacks” from UK territory.

Two weeks ago, Russia voted in favor of a wide range of constitutional changes, which included clauses that prohibited same-sex marriage and made it possible for President Vladimir Putin to remain in power until 2036.

Kelin stressed that Russia is not “accusing the United Kingdom as a state” of being involved in cyber attacks and has not provided any further details on its nature.

“Some history of espionage”

Andrew Marr also asked Mr. Kelin if he had seen the recent BBC miniseries, The Salisbury Poisonings, which dramatized the poisoning of former MI6 spy and informant Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

“I saw part of them,” he said, adding that it was “so boring” that he couldn’t see the three-part series until the end.

The UK accused two Russian military intelligence officers of being behind the poisonings, but the ambassador indicated that Moscow was keen to move forward from the incident, saying: “We still don’t understand why an espionage story should interrupt these important trade relations that will be very useful for Great Britain … when it leaves the European Union.

“We are ready to turn the page and we are ready to do business with Britain.”

The interview with Andrei Kelin will be shown on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One at 09:00 BST on Sunday.

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