German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday there is “hard evidence” of Russian involvement in a cyberattack on the German parliament in 2015 that reportedly also involved the theft of documents from her own parliamentary office.
German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported last week that federal prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant against an alleged officer with Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency identified as Dmitriy Badin, who already is being sought by U.S. authorities. On Friday, news magazine Der Spiegel reported that correspondence from Merkel’s parliamentary office was among the documents targeted in the 2015 hack.
Prosecutors haven’t confirmed those reports, but Merkel was asked about the theft of data from her office in a question-and-answer session with lawmakers in parliament Wednesday. She replied: “I get the impression that they picked up relatively indiscriminately what they could get.”
“I am very glad that the investigations have now led to the federal prosecutor putting a concrete person on the wanted list,” Merkel said, without elaborating. “I take these things very seriously.”
“I can say honestly that this pains me: on the one hand, I work every day for a better relationship with Russia, and when you see on the other hand that there is such hard evidence that Russian forces are involved in acting this way, this is an area of tension,” she added.
Russian officials have repeatedly denied any involvement by Moscow in the 2015 hacking attack on the German parliament, calling the German accusations groundless. They have similarly dismissed charges of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and alleged cyberattacks on other Western nations and institutions.
Merkel indicated that the German investigation doesn’t change her assessment of Russia’s tactics, pointing to a strategy of “hybrid warfare, which includes warfare in connection with cyber, disorientation and factual distortion.”
Merkel said there is every reason to keep up efforts for a good relationship with Russia, “but this naturally doesn’t make it easier.”
She described such actions as “outrageous” and said that “of course we always reserve the right to take measures, including against Russia.”