Berlin recalls ambassador to Russia

Alexander Lambsdorff will leave for one week for consultations over an alleged hacking operation by Moscow

The German Foreign Ministry is temporarily recalling Ambassador Alexander Lambsdorff from Moscow, its spokesperson announced on Monday.

The senior diplomat will hold consultations over the week before returning to Russia, according to the statement. The move comes after Berlin accused the Kremlin of being behind a hacking attack targeting senior members of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) of Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The German government claims that a group named ‘АРТ28’ is a front for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, and used a vulnerability in Microsoft Outlook software to spy on the party’s leadership. It described the hack as part of a prolonged campaign targeting various entities in Germany, and claimed that it had identified the culprit in conjunction with NATO and EU partners.

”Cyberattacks on political parties, state institutions and critical infrastructure are a threat to our democracy, our national security and our free society,” the German embassy in Moscow said in a statement on Monday.

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Last week, the Russian embassy in Berlin confirmed receiving a demarche from the German Foreign Ministry over the alleged cyberespionage. It said the accusations were “lacking evidence” and an “unfriendly act aimed at inciting anti-Russian sentiment” in the country.

In March, already tense Russian-German relations suffered a blow when a leaked recording of discussions between senior German military officers was published by Russian media. The tape highlighted Berlin’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict and included a debate on how the possible role of German troops in a proposed attack on Crimea using Taurus cruise missiles could be concealed from the public.

Scholz had publicly refused to provide the weapons, stating that unlike the UK and France, Germany was not prepared to send military personnel to prepare such strikes. German generals on the leaked recording were exploring ways to nudge the chancellor towards allowing such arms supplies.


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