Dominic Raab slams Russia for 'pariah-like behaviour' over alleged coronavirus vaccine theft

Dominic Raab has criticised Russia for “pariah-like behaviour” after it allegedly stole research into coronavirus vaccines.

The foreign secretary said on Sunday he was "absolutely confident” the Russian government had spied on British, US and Canadian research facilities.

Ahead of the publication of the “Russia report” next week, the UK’s National Cybersecurity Centre said that attempts to hack coronavirus projects were "almost certainly" connected to Moscow's intelligence services.

"The key thing here is the deterrent of us, internationally with our partners, calling Russia out so that the world knows that they are engaged in this frankly pariah-like behaviour, when the rest of the world is trying to come together in the spirit of collaboration to tackle this awful virus," Raab told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in Downing Street, London, as the row over Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings' Durham trip continues.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab slammed Russia over the alleged data hacks. (PA)

Speaking on Sky News's Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, Raab said it was "outrageous and reprehensible" that the Russian government is engaged in such activity.

He said: "We're absolutely confident that the Russian intelligence agencies were engaged in a cyber attack on research and development efforts and organisations in this country and internationally with a view either to sabotage or to profit from the R&D that was taking place.

"And I think the point is, first of all we've seen this as part of a wider systematic approach to cyber taken by Russia, and at the time that the world is coming together to try and tackle Covid-19, particularly come up with a global solution for a vaccine, I think it's outrageous and reprehensible that the Russian government is engaged in this activity.

File photo dated 13/3/2018 of the Russian flag outside the Russian Embassy in London. Russian "actors" almost certainly sought to interfere in the 2019 general election through the online "amplification" of stolen documents relating to US-UK trade talks, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said.
Russia's ambassador to the UK Andrei Kelin denied the spying claims on Sunday. (PA)

"So what we're doing with our allies is making sure people know, making sure the organisations know so that they can better defend against it, but also just calling Russia out, we will do this.

"Now you will see us holding Russia to account and making sure that the world knows the nature of the reprehensible behaviour that they're engaged in."

Raab added: "As a leading member of the international community, a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia should be engaged in that collaborative international effort."

Andrei Kelin, Russia's ambassador to the UK, rejected the claims and said there was "no sense" in the allegations made by Britain, the US and Canada.

"I do not see any point in using this subject as a matter of interference," he said.

"We do not interfere at all. We do not see any point in interference because for us, whether it will be (the) Conservative Party or Labour's party at the head of this country, we will try to settle relations and to establish better relations than now."

Asked about the alleged attempts to steal details of coronavirus research, Mr Kelin said: "I don't believe in this story at all, there is no sense in it."

He added: "I learned about their (the hackers) existence from British media. In this world, to attribute any kind of computer hackers to any country, it is impossible."

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