The Dutch government is ‘very, very alert’ to the risk of hacking by Russia, foreign affairs minister Bert Koenders told broadcaster NOS on Thursday.
‘I have no concrete indications but I am not naïve,’ Koenders said. The minister is currently on a visit to Washington to meet US diplomats and officials following the election of Donald Trump as president.
Part of his mission is find out if the Americans have any specific information pointing to a Russian threat against the Netherlands, NOS said.
Last week, the American security service concluded that Russia had hacked emails from the Democratic party and there are expectations the same will happen in the Netherlands ahead of the Dutch general election in March, the broadcaster said.
There have been other claims of Russia attempting to influence events in the Netherlands.
Last January, Britain’s Telegraph newspaper reported Russian influence had been ‘detected’ ahead of the Dutch referendum on the EU’s treaty with Ukraine. Sources told the paper ‘arguments deployed in support of the referendum “closely resembled” known Russian propaganda.’
The Netherlands has also called the Russian ambassador to explain misinformation in the investigation to find out what happened to flight MH17, brought down by pro-Russian rebels over eastern Ukraine.
The NRC carried an analysis of Russia’s online influence in the Netherlands earlier this week. It quoted the Dutch security service AIVD as saying: ‘Russia’s worldwide campaign to influence policy… also impacts the Netherlands.’
Nevertheless, the article pointed out, research by the European Commission suggests the Netherlands is one of the EU countries where many people have a negative opinion of Russia.
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