WASHINGTON/LONDON (Reuters) – The White House on Thursday blamed Russia for the devastating ‘NotPetya’ cyber attack last year, joining the British government in condemning Moscow for unleashing a virus that crippled parts of Ukraine’s infrastructure and damaged computers in countries across the globe.
The attack in June of 2017 “spread worldwide, causing billions of dollars in damage across Europe, Asia and the Americas,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
“It was part of the Kremlin’s ongoing effort to destabilize Ukraine and demonstrates ever more clearly Russia’s involvement in the ongoing conflict,” Sanders added. “This was also a reckless and indiscriminate cyber attack that will be met with international consequences.”
The U.S. government is “reviewing a range of options,” a senior White House official said when asked about the consequences for Russia’s actions.
Earlier on Thursday Russia denied an accusation by the British government that it was behind the attack, saying it was part of a “Russophobic” campaign that it said was being waged by some Western countries.
The so-called NotPetya attack in June started in Ukraine where it crippled government and business computers before spreading around Europe and the world, halting operations at ports, factories and offices.
Britain’s foreign ministry said in a statement released earlier in the day that the attack originated from the Russian military.
“The decision to publicly attribute this incident underlines the fact that the UK and its allies will not tolerate malicious cyber activity,” the ministry said in a statement.
“The attack masqueraded as a criminal enterprise but its purpose was principally to disrupt,” it said.
“Primary targets were Ukrainian financial, energy and government sectors. Its indiscriminate design caused it to spread further, affecting other European and Russian business.”
Reporting by Dustin Volz in WASHINGTON and Sarah Young in LONDON; Additional reporting by Katya Golubkova in MOSCOW, Andrea Shalal in MUNICH, Teis Jensen in COPENHAGEN; Editing by William Maclean, Gareth Jones and Bill Rigby