Disinfo: Accusations about Russian-sponsored hacker attacks aim to discredit Russia’s anti-COVID vaccine


The accusations about Russian-sponsored hacker attacks against Western pharmaceutical companies aim to discredit Russia’s anti-COVID vaccine, which could become the first in the world. These accusations are an attempt to discredit the Russian vaccine by people who fear its success because Russia’s vaccine could potentially become the top vaccine in the market and the most effective one. These are typical accusations made without any evidence, and their timing should be noted. They were made just when it was announced that the Russian vaccine is scheduled to be approved in August by the regulatory authority.


Conspiracy theory. The article provides no evidence to support its claim that accusations about Russian-sponsored cyber-espionage against organisations involved in COVID-19 research aim to discredit the Russian anti-COVID vaccine. The article repeats a recurrent disinformation narrative denying any involvement of the Russian government in hacker attacks and cyber-crime. This narrative rejects as baseless and absurd any accusations of Russian-sponsored hostile cyber-operations against Western targets, and often claims that such accusations are motivated by “Russophobiaor seek to distract the attention of Western public opinion from real problems. The article’s claim does not reflect reality. On July 16, 2020, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) - together with Canada’s Communications Security Establishment (CSE) and the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) – issued a report on the targeting of COVID-19 vaccine development by the APT29 cyber-espionage group (also known as ‘the Dukes’ or ‘Cozy Bear’). The report assesses that APT29 is almost certainly part of the Russian intelligence services and that throughout 2020, APT29 has targeted various organisations involved in COVID-19 vaccine development in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, highly likely with the intention of stealing information and intellectual property relating to the development and testing of COVID-19 vaccines. This report is based on serious investigative work and reflects the genuine concern of the UK, US and Canadian governments about the cyber-espionage activities of Russian intelligence services. The report has nothing to do with alleged efforts to “discredit the Russian anti-COVID vaccine”. Russian state actors have been proven to be actively involved in hostile cyber-operations, including malicious cyberattacks, hacking of foreign states and entities, as well as running disinformation campaigns. For further background see here and here. Read a similar case claiming that the Dutch government’s accusations against Russia for the 2018 cyber-attacks on the headquarters of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are groundless.


  • Reported in: Issue 206
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 16/07/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Italian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: UK, Russia
  • Keywords: coronavirus, vaccination, Cyber, Hybrid war, Intelligence services, Conspiracy theory
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The war in eastern Ukraine is not a civil conflict, but an act of aggression by the Russian armed forces, that has continued since February 2014. The European Union stated in July 2014 that "arms and fighters continue flowing into Ukraine from the Russian Federation".

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Disinfo: The United States is stopping Balkan Stream because of the political instability in Bulgaria

The current political instability in Bulgaria is the reason for the sanctions imposed by the US towards all companies involved in the construction of “Balkan Stream”.


The sanctions that were declared on 15 July that the US will impose will be directed towards not only Turk Stream (referred by Michael Pompeo as “Balkan Stream”), but also Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines. The primary reason for the sanctions by the US is not related to the current political situation in Bulgaria. Rather, the US government views the current energy projects as beneficial only to Russia and the gas pipelines as one of Kremlin's main tools for exploiting and expanding Europe's dependence on Russian energy. Furthermore, as of the release of the article, there are no officially declared Bulgarian companies that are expected to be sanctioned due to the construction of the gas pipeline.