The UK government has publicly accused the Russian of being directly behind a malicious cyber-attack on Ukraine last summer, with affected European and British businesses.
Foreign office minister Lord Ahmad said the Russian government, specifically the Russian military, was responsible for the “destructive” NotPetya attack of June 2017.
The attack targeted Ukraine but later spread across Europe. Consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser, which is behind brands including Dettol, Durex and Strepsils, was among the British firms affected.
A government statement said the decision to publicly attribute this incident underlines the fact that “the UK and its allies will not tolerate malicious cyber activity“.
“The attack showed a continued disregard for Ukrainian sovereignty,” Lord Ahmad said. “Its reckless release disrupted organisations across Europe costing hundreds of millions of pounds.”
Defence secretary Gavin Williamson said Russia was “ripping up the rule book by undermining democracy, wrecking livelihoods by targeting critical infrastructure, and weaponising information”.
He added: “We have entered a new era of warfare, witnessing a destructive and deadly mix of conventional military might and malicious cyber-attacks.
“We must be primed and ready to tackle these stark and intensifying threats.”
Russia has denied responsibility for the NotPetya attack.