German ambassador
German Ambassador Alexander Graf Lambsdorff was recalled from Russia over alleged cyberattacks. Image: Embassy of Germany in the Russian Federation / Nikita Markow / X

Germany recalls ambassador to Russia over cyberattacks

This article was updated at 2:35 p.m. EST with information about Czechia summoning the Russian ambassador.

Germany has recalled its ambassador to Russia following alleged Moscow-backed cyberattacks targeting the country’s defense, aerospace, and IT companies, as well as the German Social Democratic Party.

A Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that Ambassador Alexander Graf Lambsdorff had "been called back for consultations and will stay in Berlin for a week and then return to Moscow," Deutsche Welle reported on Monday.

The federal government is taking the incident “very seriously,” reported Berliner Zeitung, citing the ministry’s spokesperson.

Last week, Germany and its allies accused the Kremlin of conducting a series of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure. In a press conference, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock attributed a cyberattack against the Social Democratic Party to the hacker group APT28, also known as Fancy Bear, which is tied to Russia’s military intelligence (GRU).

“Russian state hackers have attacked Germany in cyberspace," she said. "This is completely unacceptable and will not remain without consequences."

The same threat actor also targeted government services, critical infrastructure operators and other entities across NATO, including in Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Sweden, according to the North Atlantic Council.

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs said its intelligence services had been targeted by APT28, “exploiting a previously unknown vulnerability in Microsoft Outlook from 2023.”

In a statement on Friday, the Russian embassy in Berlin “categorically rejected” allegations of Russia’s involvement in a cyberattack, calling them “unproven and unfounded.” Russia also called Germany’s accusations “another unfriendly step, aimed at inflaming anti-Russian sentiments in Germany and leading to the further destruction of Russian-German relations.”

Lambsdorff's return to Berlin was ordered just a day before the inauguration of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Germany is among many European countries, including the Baltic states, that has refused to send their representatives to Putin’s inauguration to avoid “legitimizing diplomatic relations with an aggressor state."

Germany has faced a series of Russian threats in recent months, from a new cyber espionage targeting political parties to the interception and leaking of a conversation between military officials about support for Ukraine. The country’s prosecutors also recently announced charges against a military officer who attempted to provide intelligence to Russian spy agencies.

Following Germany's decision to temporarily recall Lambsdorff, Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Lipavsky announced that Czechia will summon the Russian Ambassador over “cyberattacks against Czech institutions and critical infrastructure.”

“We have called on the Russian Federation to refrain from this behavior, which is contrary to UN standards and its own obligations,” Lipavsky said.

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Daryna Antoniuk

Daryna Antoniuk

is a reporter for Recorded Future News based in Ukraine. She writes about cybersecurity startups, cyberattacks in Eastern Europe and the state of the cyberwar between Ukraine and Russia. She previously was a tech reporter for Forbes Ukraine. Her work has also been published at Sifted, The Kyiv Independent and The Kyiv Post.