Expert: Latvia has given Russia a signal that its activities will be openly discussed

The objective of the statement released by Constitution Protection Bureau regarding the attacks performed by Russian GRU on Latvia’s cyber space was giving Russia a signal that its activities will be discussed openly, said director of Latvian Institute of International Affairs Andris Sprūds.

He explained that this statement was for residents – to remind them of risks. This statement has a major role for opinion formation among residents domestically and in foreign countries, the expert says. He believes this is a signal addressed not only to Latvia’s residents and allies but also Russia, making it clear that other countries are well-aware of its activities and that they will be discussed openly.

When previously reporting on Russia’s activities, authorities focused more on the involvement of Russian-speaking activists in different developments. This time, however, focus is put on cyber space. CPB’s statement, according to the expert, fits between reports from other countries in regards to cyber-attacks and represents the common opinion Latvia shares with its allies. Sprūds explains – if other countries present similar reports, cyber space will be recognized as an additional challenge. SPB’s statement provides a signal to Latvia’s society and other countries that we are allies with common challenges, said Sprūds.

The signal to Russia invites the country «to not go too far, because it would not benefit relations», said the institute’s director. Countries that have released similar statements also thereby show to Russia that if it wants good relations, it should consider stopping its invasive behaviour, said Sprūds.

Countries may take joint measures in response to cyber-attacks by GRU, but it is unlikely that measures would be serious, said Sprūds. «The west understands – how far can we go – do we expell all Russian diplomats? Do we close down their embassy? The west does not want to terminate relations with Russia and isolate it. Russia should be stopped, but in a way that would allow preserving a dialogue in economic and energy fields,» adds Sprūds.

He allows that the proper response may be more symbolic and diplomatic, but not the kind that would lead to major sanctions, the expert allows.

As previously reported, over the past several years GRU has performed a number of cyber-attacks on Latvia’s cyber space. Most often those attacks were carried out against state institutions, including foreign affairs and defence sectors.

According to CPB, GRU is one of the most active foreign services in the world.

According to reports, Russian military intelligence service’s hacker group has performed attacks on Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons OPCW, World Anti-Doping Agency and Malaysian institutions investigating MH17 crash. On top of that, GRU has also performed attacks in Latvia’s cyber-space, according to CPB.

Attacks in Russia were performed by GRU as part of espionage activities. The majority of those attacks were performed against state institutions. Some were performed against private companies and media, the bureau claims.

Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry had previously reported that the country’s official stance is in support of Britain, USA and Netherlands and in condemnation of cyber-attacks performed by Russia. «Latvia supports Britain, USA and Netherlands, which published information on 4 October detailing cyber-attacks performed by Russian intelligence services, including ones against Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, World Anti-Doping Agency and other civilian targets around the world,» as mentioned in the ministry’s statement.

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