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Germany Recalls Russian Ambassador Over Cyberattack

Germany's Ambassador to Russia Alexander Graf Lambsdorff. Sergei Bobylev / TASS

Germany has temporarily recalled its ambassador to Russia after members of Chancellor Olaf Scholz's political party were targeted in what Berlin said was a state-sponsored Russian cyberattack, the German Foreign Ministry said Monday.

A newly concluded government investigation revealed that the cyberattack targeting members of Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) had been carried out by a group known as APT28, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said last week.

The group was controlled by Russia's military intelligence, meaning it was "a state-sponsored Russian cyberattack on Germany," Baerbock added. Moscow slammed the allegations as "unsubstantiated and groundless."

Germany's Ambassador to Russia Alexander Graf Lambsdorff "has been called back for consultations and will stay in Berlin for a week and then return to Moscow," a ministry spokeswoman said Monday.

APT28, also known as Fancy Bear, has been accused of dozens of cyberattacks in countries around the world.

The cyberattack on SPD party members was made public last year. Hackers exploited a previously unknown vulnerability in Microsoft Outlook to compromise email accounts, according to the German government.

Berlin last week summoned the acting charge d'affaires of the Russian embassy over the incident.

The Czech Republic also said last week that some of its state institutions had been the target of cyberattacks blamed on APT28, again by exploiting a weakness in Microsoft Outlook in 2023.

The attacks on two European Union members prompted the bloc to warn Moscow of consequences for its "malicious behavior in cyberspace."

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