Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian MFA on the introduction of EU restrictions on Russian individuals and state entities for their alleged involvement in cyber attacks

Submitted on Fri, 07/31/2020 - 17:14

We are perplexed and upset by the decision of the European Union Council on 30 July to introduce unilateral restrictions on a number of citizens and entities of Russia, as well as the PRC and the DPRK. Once again, this is being done without any grounds, under the far-fetched pretext of involvement in cyber incidents in the past. The political connotations of this move are obvious.

We have repeatedly warned the EU about the harm of multiplying unilateral sanctions. Moreover, they are absolutely illegal in the context of international law. Commitment to collective multilateral decisions is of particular importance in the dynamically developing cross-border digital space. There is a demand for joint efforts to elaborate universal rules, norms and principles for the responsible conduct of states in the information space. Russia has long been suggesting such an approach.

Moscow has repeatedly suggested to the EU developing a professional dialogue on concerns in the information area or using the existing channels and mechanisms in the UN and OSCE. But instead, Brussels chose to use the sanctions toolkit, approved on paper a year ago. It cynically presented this move as a promotion of international security and stability in cyber space. One can conclude that the EU prefers a policy of unilateral pressure and restrictions to a serious conversation leading to a resolution of differences and buildup of mutual trust. This approach leads to new political confrontation and cyber chaos rather than a rules-based order about which our EU partners like to talk so much, forgetting about the central role of the UN.

We noted the obviously fallacious logic of the EU: Russian citizens are accused of involvement in a 2018 cyber incident, that is, that happened a year before the institution of the mechanism of cyber sanctions that the EU has used now. In other words, they are using it retroactively. Apparently, EU lawyers deliberately forgot that the law is not retroactive.

Once again, we strongly urge the EU to give up its futile attempts at exerting pressure, to return to implementing the basic norms of international and European law, and to draft effective rules for preventing conflicts in cyber space, not in words but in deeds.

Needless to say, the EU’s unfriendly action will not go unanswered. In diplomacy, everything is reciprocal.