Hungarian diplomacy has become practically an open book for Moscow through the hacking of the ministry’s networks. The Russians can know in advance what the Hungarian foreign ministry is thinking and planning, and this is happening at a very sensitive time. Russian infiltration remained active before and partly after the invasion of Ukraine, during the current EU and NATO crisis summits. Meanwhile, there is no sign that the Hungarian government has publicly protested to Russia about the cyberespionage.
On 30 December 2021, in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pinned the Order of Friendship on the suit of his Hungarian counterpart Péter Szijjártó. Although the medal was presented by Lavrov, it was Russian President Vladimir Putin himself who decided to award it. Not coincidentally, the medal, which is in the form of a wreath of olive branches encircling a globe, with the inscription “Peace and Friendship” in Cyrillic on the reverse, is the highest Russian state decoration that can be awarded to a foreigner, Direkt36.hu reports.
“I am proud that, despite the extremely unfavourable global and regional developments of recent years, while respecting our alliance obligations, we have been able to maintain our cooperation with Moscow based on mutual trust and in line with our national interests”, the Hungarian Foreign Minister boasted on his Facebook page.
Péter Szijjártó knew long ago that Russia’s intelligence services had attacked and hacked into the IT systems of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFA), which he headed. By the second half of 2021, it had already become clear that the Russians had completely compromised the foreign ministry’s computer network and internal correspondence, and had also hacked into the encrypted network used to transmit “restricted” and “confidential” state secrets and diplomatic information, which can only be used under strict security measures.
According to an internal document in our possession, the foreign ministry was still under targeted attacks in January 2022. Details of the Russian hacking of the foreign ministry’s communications channels were shared with us by former state officials, among others, who learned of the incident from officials with direct knowledge of it.
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