Britain has publicly blamed the Russian government for a cyber attack which targeted Ukraine and spread across Europe last year.
The NotPetya attack’s primary targets were the Ukrainian financial, energy, and government sectors but it was designed to spread further and affected other European and Russian firms in June 2017.
Ukraine has been locked in a simmering conflict with Russian-backed separatists since Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014.
Foreign minister for cyber security Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said the UK’s decision to identify the Kremlin as responsible to the attack underlines the fact the Government will not tolerate “malicious cyber activity”.
Foreign minister for cyber security Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon called on Russia to be more responsible. (Andrew Milligan/PA)
He said: “The UK Government judges that the Russian government, specifically the Russian military, was responsible for the destructive NotPetya cyber attack of June 2017.
“The attack showed a continued disregard for Ukrainian sovereignty. Its reckless release disrupted organisations across Europe costing hundreds of millions of pounds.
“The Kremlin has positioned Russia in direct opposition to the West yet it doesn’t have to be that way.
“We call upon Russia to be the responsible member of the international community it claims to be rather then secretly trying to undermine it.
“The United Kingdom is identifying, pursuing and responding to malicious cyber activity regardless of where it originates, imposing costs on those who would seek to do us harm.
“We are committed to strengthening co-ordinated international efforts to uphold a free, open, peaceful and secure cyberspace.”
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson added: “We have entered a new era of warfare, witnessing a destructive and deadly mix of conventional military might and malicious cyber attacks.
“Russia is ripping up the rule book by undermining democracy, wrecking livelihoods by targeting critical infrastructure, and weaponising information.
“We must be primed and ready to tackle these stark and intensifying threats.”