Germany’s Declaration: Intolerable Cyberattacks by Russia Spark Warning of Consequences

On Friday, May 3, 2024, Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock condemned recent Russian cyberattacks during a conference in Australia. This week, Germany accused Russian hackers backed by the state of orchestrating a cyberattack that targeted members of the Social Democratic Party. During Foreign Minister Baerbock’s visit to Australia, she asserted that the investigation into the German federal government and who was behind the cyberattack of 2023 had concluded. Annalena Baerbock also claimed that APT28, the group of Russian hackers, was directed by Russia’s military intelligence service. 

An article published by Aljazeera stated that  Russia’s “cyberattack showed that the Russian threat to security and peace in Europe is real and enormous”. This article also describes how NATO spoke on this issue and how they are “determined to employ the necessary capabilities in order to deter, defend against and counter the full spectrum of cyber threats to support each other”. Additionally, NATO understands that the hackers of APT28 have targeted other national government entities, and critical infrastructure operators across countries including the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, and more. The Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs recently stated that cyberattacks aimed at political entities, state institutions, and critical infrastructure pose a threat not only to national security but also disrupt the democratic processes fundamental to our free society. 

The global concerns surrounding Russian hackers are extremely serious and an issue that needs to be paid clear attention to. Germany’s accusations of Russia are significant, and it would be in the best interest of both of these countries to come to a peaceful resolution. A peaceful resolution between these nations could happen in a few different ways and would involve diplomatic dialogue and joint efforts aimed at de-escalating tensions. Additionally, Russia could provide more transparency regarding its alleged cyberattacks by allowing independent investigations from countries like Germany. 

One of the most significant incidents attributed to Russian hackers occurred in 2015 when a cyberattack paralyzed the computer network of Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, resulting in the entire institution being offline for several days. This attack increased tensions between the two countries and led to calls for diplomatic action and cybersecurity measures. In 2020, German Chancellor Angela Merkel found hard proof that Russian hackers had targeted her. As for the current hacking campaign, it commenced no later than March 2022, shortly after Russia initiated its invasion of Ukraine; emails from the headquarters of the Social Democratic Party of Germany were hacked as early as December of that same year. Germany has also been providing Ukraine military support throughout its war with Russia. 

Russia’s recent cyber-attacks have caused a large rift between Germany and Russia, which needs to be peacefully resolved for the sake of both countries. The cyber attacks are not necessarily surprising, considering Germany’s support of Ukraine, which led to German companies such as information technology sectors, defense, and targets related to Russia’s war in Ukraine being the primary focus of the cyberattacks. The European Union has vehemently condemned this malicious cyber campaign carried out by the Russia-controlled group APT28.