TBILISI, Georgia — Georgian authorities on Thursday accused Russia’s military intelligence of launching a large-scale cyber-attack in October that targeted official structures and private entities in the ex-Soviet nation.
The United States and Britain also weighed in, strongly condemning the alleged Russian action. A senior Russian diplomat has dismissed the accusations.
Georgia’s Foreign Ministry said the Oct. 28 cyber-attack was “targeted at Georgia’s national security and intended to harm Georgian citizens and government structures by disrupting and paralyzing the functionality of various organisations, causing anxiety among the general public.”
It said in a statement that the cyber-attack “goes against international norms and principles,” infringed Georgian sovereignty and was designed to hinder the country’s efforts to join the European Union and NATO.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Russia’s GRU military intelligence for the attack, saying in a statement that it “directly affected the Georgian population, disrupted operations of several thousand Georgian government and privately-run websites and interrupted the broadcast of at least two major television stations.”
Pompeo described it as part of a “continuing pattern of reckless Russian GRU cyber operations against a number of countries.”
“These operations aim to sow division, create insecurity, and undermine democratic institutions,” he added.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that “the GRU’s reckless and brazen campaign of cyber-attacks against Georgia, a sovereign and independent nation, is totally unacceptable.”
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko rejected the accusations, saying in remarks carried by the state RIA Novosti news agency that “Russia hasn’t interfered and has no intention to interfere in Georgia’s domestic affairs in any way.”
In 2008, Russia fought a brief war with Georgia, which had made a botched attempt to regain control over the breakaway province of South Ossetia. Moscow then recognized the independence of South Ossetia and another breakaway Georgian province, Abkhazia, and set up military bases there.