Russia, with knowledge reaching its President Vladimir Putin, has been accused by three western countries of a "despicable" operation to steal Britain's coronavirus vaccine secrets in a hacking attack.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that the United Kingdom stands with Canada and the U.S.
"There's a general sense that for so-called herd immunity in Russian Federation you need to vaccinate between 40 million and 50 million people", he told Reuters.
Both accusations came even before the publication in the coming days of a long-awaited British parliamentary report into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Brexit vote.
"In Canada, we are committed to defending these principles in cyberspace, especially when they touch on the interests of Canadians".
Russian Federation still expects a tentative agreement with a multinational pharmaceutical company to manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine under development with Oxford University to move forward, despite accusations Russian Federation has been trying to steal vaccine data, the head of Russia's wealth fund said Friday in an interview with Reuters.
Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive officer of Russia's sovereign wealth fund, which is supporting vaccine research, called the accusations "an attempt to tarnish the reputation" of Russia's vaccine efforts.
It is unclear whether research facilities have been damaged or if the vaccine programs have been set back as a result of the hacks but officials warned that the cyber attacks are ongoing.
It was highly likely that the group was trying to collect information on vaccine development or research on the virus itself, Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement.
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British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also said that "Russian actors" had tried to interfere in last year's general election by "amplifying" stolen government papers online.
"On any given day, CSE's dynamic defence capabilities block up to two billion reconnaissance scans on these systems", CSE spokesperson Evan Koronewski said in the statement.
"The Oxford vaccine will be fully transferred to Russian Federation", said Dmitriev.
But the University of Oxford, which is one of the global leaders in research for a potential vaccine for COVID-19, has previously confirmed it was taking advice from security experts on the issue of cyber attacks linked to coronavirus data.
FBI Director Chris Wray said last week: 'At this very moment, China is working to compromise American health care organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and academic institutions conducting essential COVID-19 research'.
"We know absolutely nothing about the group and who it is affiliated with", he said.
US intelligence officials say that APT29 is part of the SVR, Russia's equivalent of the CIA.
Britain's National Cyber Security Centre said the group has been using a variety of tools and techniques including spear-phishing and custom malware known as "WellMess" and "WellMail". If Russia proclaims success in the hunt for a vaccine before other candidates, it could create a world of duelling vaccines and geopolitical battles over who gets supplies. "It's important work", he told a news conference in Ottawa.