The Netherlands says it has expelled four alleged Russian intelligence officers in April over a plot targeting the global chemical-weapons watchdog and an international investigation into the downing of a passenger jet over in Ukraine in 2014.
The Russians set up a car full of electronic equipment in a parking lot next to the Organization for the Prohibition for Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague in a bid to hack its computer system, the Dutch government said on October 4.
Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld told a news conference that the cyberoperation was carried out by Russia's military intelligence agency, known as the GRU.
In a joint statement, the Dutch and British prime ministers, Theresa May and Mark Rutte, accused Russia of disregarding global values and “rules that keep us all safe" by trying to hack global institutions such as the OPCW.
"This aggressive act demonstrated contempt for the solemn purpose of the [OPCW]," said European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
"We deplore such actions, which undermine international law and international institutions," they said in a joint statement.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Russia must pay a price for its attempts to hack the OPCW and that a number of response options were available.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called on Russia to stop its "reckless pattern of behavior."
“The Western spy mania is gathering pace," the Russian Foreign Ministry said, adding that Russia's official reaction will follow soon.
Earlier, Britain accused the GRU of being behind high-profile cyberattacks seeking to undermine critical Western institutions from sports and transportation authorities to election processes.
Moscow has called the allegations a "fantasy."
The OPCW has been investigating the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury in March.
London says GRU officers were behind the attack, which caused an international outcry deepening tensions between Moscow and the West. Russia denies involvement.
The OPCW has also been probing alleged chemical attacks in Syria.
Bijleveld said that the alleged spies also targeted files on the probe into the 2014 shooting down of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine.
A laptop belonging to one of the four was linked to Brazil, Switzerland, and Malaysia, the minister said, adding that the activities in Malaysia were related to the investigation.
All 298 passengers and crew were killed when the jet crashed in an area held by Russia-backed separatists.
Dutch-led investigators have concluded that the plane was downed by a missile belonging to a Russian military unit.
Russia denies any involvement in the jet's destruction.