'There is no sense to it': Russia's UK ambassador rejects coronavirus vaccine hacking claims

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By Euronews
Andrei Kelin (C), Russia's ambassador to the UK, in Vienna, Austria in 2014.
Andrei Kelin (C), Russia's ambassador to the UK, in Vienna, Austria in 2014.   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Ronald Zak

Russia's ambassador to the UK rejected allegations that Moscow intelligence services are attempting to steal information from academic and research institutions working on developing a coronavirus vaccine.

"I don't believe in this story at all, there is no sense to it," Andrei Kelin said in a BBC interview aired on Sunday.

Britain, the US and Canada said earlier this week that a hacking group called APT29 — also known as Cozy Bear and said to be part of Russia's intelligence services — has been targeting various organisations involved in COVID-19 vaccine development in the three western countries.

Britain's National Cyber Security Centre said the group has been using a variety of tools and techniques including spear-phishing and custom malware known as "WellMess" and "WellMail".

Kelin told the BBC that he "learned about their [the hackers] existence from British media" and that "in this world, to attribute any kind of computer hackers to any country, it is impossible".

He also rejected allegations that Russia had sought to interfere in the UK's 2019 general election.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told lawmakers on Thursday that "Russian actors" had illicitly acquired "sensitive" trade documents and released them on social media to interfere in the election.

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