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NEW SANCTIONS WAR: EU Imposes Sanctions on Russians, Chinese, North Koreans For ‘Cyber Attacks’, Russia Responds Tit-For-Tat

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BRUSSELS/MOSCOW – The EU approved restrictions against structures and citizens of Russia, China and North Korea for alleged “cyber attack activities”. The sanctions are imposed in the framework established a year ago but never applied before allowing the EU to impose targeted restrictive measures to “deter and respond to cyberattacks”, reads the EU Official Journal, TASS reported.

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“To prevent, discourage, deter and respond to continuing and increasing malicious behavior in cyberspace, six natural persons and three entities or bodies should be included in the list of natural and legal persons, entities and bodies subject to restrictive measures <..>. Those persons and entities or bodies are responsible for, provided support for or were involved in, or facilitated cyber-attacks or attempted cyber-attacks, including the attempted cyber-attack against the OPCW and the cyber-attacks publicly known as ‘WannaCry’ and ‘NotPetya’, as well as ‘Operation Cloud Hopper’,” the text reads.

Russia announced it will give a tit-for-tat response to the EU’s sanctions against its citizens and organizations allegedly responsible for cyberattacks, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

“Naturally, the European Union’s unfriendly act will not stay unanswered. As you know, everything is mirrored in diplomacy,” the ministry said.

The ministry noted that the EU’s decision to impose sanctions was regrettable.

“Once again, no evidence was given. Instead, a pretext of involvement in some sort of cyber incidents that took place in the past was invented. Political motives of this step are obvious,” the ministry said.

The ministry stressed that Brussel’s decision rested on lame logic as it was applicable to an incident that had taken place back in 2018, or a year before the EU’s cyber sanctions mechanism triggered now had been established.

“In other words, it is being used retrospectively. It seems that EU lawyers have willfully forgotten about the fundamental principle that no law can be retroactive,” the ministry stressed.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Moscow has repeatedly warned the EU against the practice of unilateral sanctions, which are absolutely illegitimate from the point of view of international law.

“Commitment to collective multilateral solutions is what matters most in conditions of the dynamically developing trans-border digital space,” the ministry pointed out. “We now need joint efforts to elaborate universal rules, norms and principles of responsible behavior of states in the information space. Russia has been offering this approach for a long time.”

The ministry recalled that Moscow has several times invited the EU to step up a professional dialogue on problems in the information sphere or to use the existing United Nations and OSCE channels and mechanisms.

“Instead, Brussels has opted to use the sanctions scenario set up ‘on paper’ a year ago, being cynical enough to picture it as concern for international security and stability in the cyberspace. There is no avoiding the conclusion that the European Union prefers the policy of unilateral pressure and restrictions to a serious conversation aiming at settling differences and enhancing mutual trust. Such an approach is leading the world not to the rule-based order the EU partners are so fond of speaking about, ignoring the United Nations central role, but contrarily to further political confrontation and cyber chaos,” the ministry stressed.

“We once again call on the European Union to drop futile attempts to exert pressure and get back to the implementation of the basic norms of international and European law and work out effective rules of preventing conflict in cyberspace,” the ministry said.

The EU’s first-ever cyber sanctions were imposed under the EU cyber sanctions regime adopted in May 2019. The sanctions are applicable to six individuals and three organizations or structures from Russia, China and North Korea.

According to the EU, these persons and organizations are responsible for, provided support for or were involved in, or facilitated cyber-attacks or attempted cyber-attacks, including the attempted cyber-attack against the OPCW and the cyber-attacks publicly known as ‘WannaCry’ and ‘NotPetya’, as well as ‘Operation Cloud Hopper’.”

Among those falling under the sanctions are four Russian nationals and the Main Center for Special Technologies that as the EU claims is part of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.

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