Switzerland’s foreign minister said Monday that he will meet his Russian counterpart next week after details emerged of alleged attempts by two Russian spies to hack sensitive Swiss targets.
Swiss officials have said that Russian agents, arrested in the Netherlands earlier this year, launched separate cyber attacks on the Spiez laboratory in Bern and the Lausanne office of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
The lab, which does analytical work for the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), was investigating the poisoning of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Britain.
WADA for its part has been a thorn in Moscow’s side for several years over drug cheating in Russian sport.
Switzerland’s foreign minister Ignazio Cassis told public radio broadcaster SRF that he will meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov next week to discuss what he called the “escalation” of Russian espionage on Swiss soil.
Foreign ministry spokesman Pierre-Alain Eltschinger told AFP that the meeting will take place in New York, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
“Activities by intelligence agencies happen daily, not just by Russia but by other states,” Cassis said.
“But there is now a certain escalation with Russia,” he added.
“We’ve had various bilateral contacts at different levels this year to clearly state that we will not tolerate such activities in Switzerland.”
Cassis also said that Switzerland had in recent weeks denied accreditation to “certain Russian diplomats”.
Lavrov has condemned reports that Moscow’s spies targeted the Spiez lab, saying he could not believe the arrests would not have been picked up at the time by the media.