US, UK and Estonia call out Russia over cyber attacks against Georgia in UN Security Council first

The U.S., U.K. and Estonia condemned last year’s cyber attacks against Georgia, part of the former Soviet Union, by Russian military intelligence today during a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council. The meeting marked the first time cyber attacks were brought up in the council as its own specific item.

The meeting came about following a letter written to the Security Council last month by the Georgian U.N. Ambassador about the cyber attack. U.N. ambassadors from the U.S. and U.K. and Estonia made a joint statement about the meeting. Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Estonia’s Ambassador Sven Jurgenson said it was clear who carried out the cyber attack.

“We are clear that Russia's military intelligence service, the G.R.U, conducted the cyber attacks in attempt to sow discord and disrupt the lives of ordinary Georgian people. These cyber attacks are part of Russia's long-running campaign of hostile and destabilizing activity against Georgia and are part of a wider pattern of malign activity.”

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Jurgenson continued:  “These actions clearly contradict Russia's attempts to claim it is a responsible actor in cyberspace and demonstrate a continuing pattern of reckless G.R.U cyber operations against a number of countries. Irresponsibility in cyberspace is detrimental to all of us.”

Although the attack occurred in October, Georgian authorities blamed Russia’s GRU last month. The Associated Press reported the large-scale cyber-attack was aimed at the Tbilisi government and private organizations with the goal of destabilizing the country.

The attack centered on disrupting two of Georgia’s major TV networks and it also disrupted some two thousand websites both government and privately owned sites.

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Georgian authorities told the AP that the cyber attack “was designed to hinder Georgia’s efforts to join the European Union and NATO.”

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in a statement last month blamed the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) for carrying out what he called, “a widespread disruptive cyber attack against the country of Georgia.”

Pompeo’s statement described the attack as contradicting Russian attempts to “claim it is a responsible actor in cyberspace and demonstrates a continuing pattern of reckless Russian GRU cyber operations in a number of countries...these operations aim to sow division, create insecurity, and undermine democratic institutions."

Pompeo's statement concluded by offering help to Georgia. "We also pledge our support to Georgia and its people in enhancing their cybersecurity and countering malicious cyber actors.  We will offer additional capacity building and technical assistance to help strengthen Georgia’s public institutions and improve its ability to protect itself from these kinds of activities," he said.

A Fox News request for comment from the Russian U.N. mission about the Russian attack and today’s Security Council meeting were not returned, but as reported last month by the Associated Press, Russia’s Foreign Ministry denied it was involved in the hacking calling the criticism, “unfounded and politically driven.”

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A spokesman from the U.K. mission to the U.N. told Fox News that: “These cyber-attacks are part of Russia’s long-running campaign of hostile and destabilizing activity against Georgia and part of a wider pattern of malign activity. Actions such as these should be held up for scrutiny.”

Before the meeting on Georgia, the council also met behind closed doors on North Korea’s missile launch earlier this week. The U.K., Estonia, France, Germany and Belgium condemned the launch, calling the launches "provocative actions." The statement said the testing of ballistic missiles by North Korea was a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.