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Iran Press TV

Russia's UK envoy: COVID-19 vaccine hacking claims nonsensical

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 19 July 2020 6:10 AM

Moscow's ambassador to London has rejected allegations made by the UK and its allies that Russian intelligence services attempted to steal data on coronavirus vaccine research projects from laboratories around the world.

Britain, the US and Canada accused Russia on Thursday of helping a group of hackers – known as the Dukes or Cozy Bear – target labs working to develop coronavirus vaccines.

Speaking to the BBC on Saturday, Ambassador Andrei Kelin said, "I don't believe in this story at all, there is no sense in it."

Kelin said he had only learned about the hacking collective's existence from British media reports.

"In this world, to attribute any kind of computer hackers to any country, it is impossible," the senior Russian diplomat added.

Kelin further said a Russian pharmaceutical firm had already entered a partnership with Astra Zeneca to manufacture the coronavirus vaccine being developed at the University of Oxford, should it prove effective.

The hacking claims come while Moscow's own vaccine plans are at an advanced stage, with Russia saying that it could be among the first states to roll out mass immunization.

A Russian research center also said last week that it had successfully completed the clinical trials of the world's first coronavirus vaccine on humans.

'Russia has no interest in meddling with UK affairs'

The Russian envoy also rejected allegations that Russia had interfered in the UK's last year general elections.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said earlier this week that Moscow "almost certainly" sought to interfere in the 2019 elections by "amplifying" stolen government papers online.

Kelin, however, said his country had no interest in interfering with Britain's domestic politics.

"I do not see any point in using this subject as a matter of interference," he said. "We do not interfere at all. We do not see any point in interference because for us, whether it will be (the) Conservative party or Labour party at the head of this country, we will try to settle relations and to establish better relations than now."

Kelin said Russian officials had discovered "several cyber-attacks" originating from the British territory during Russia's recent constitutional referendum, but Moscow was not "accusing the United Kingdom as a state" of being involved in the attacks.

Kelin did not specify the nature of the alleged attacks.

London and Moscow have been engaged in a major dispute since 2018, when the UK accused Russia of attempting to poison ex-Russian Sergei Skripal to death using Novichok, a powerful chemical nerve agent, in Salisbury.

Russia rejected any involvement, saying the substance could have originated from the countries studying Novichok, including the UK itself.

Asked about that dispute, the Russian envoy said Moscow was ready to move on from the controversies.

"We still do not understand why some spy story should disrupt these important business relations which will be very helpful to Britain... when it is exiting from the European Union," he added.

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