Hackers accessed the European Union's diplomatic communications network for years, downloading cables that reveal concerns about the Trump administration, struggles to deal with Russia and China and the risk of Iran reviving its nuclear program, the New York Times reported late on Tuesday.
The cables also offered insight into Israel's views on Russia and Iran in Syria.
More than 1,100 cables were supplied to the Times by security firm Area 1 after it discovered the breach, the newspaper said, adding that Area 1 investigators believed the hackers worked for the China's People's Liberation Army.
The cables include memorandums of conversations with leaders in Saudi Arabia, Israel and other countries that were shared across the European Union, according to the report.
Included in the cables is one from June 2018, in which Slovakia wishes to "inform its partners about consultations between Political Director of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic Mr Marian Jakubocy and his Israeli counterpart Mr Alon Ushpiz."
In the cable, Slovakia explains Israel's views on Iran, Russia, Syria and the EU's treatment of Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The cable says, "According to Israel, there is a lack of understanding on EU side as to threats the country has been facing." The cable states that bilateral cooperation between Israel and individual EU states is "considered to be excellent," but the "once the scene is moved to Brussels, this becomes a different story."
On Syria and Iran, the cable says, "According to Israel, Iran's main interest is to create land corridor to Lebanon in order to transfer military technology/capabilities and equipment to Hezbollah." The cable also says it is Mr. Ushpiz's conclusion that "the situation in Syria would have been even more complex without the Russian presence" and that "Israel recognizes changes in Russian's perception of Iran."
It continues, "Iranian activities in Syria are seen by Russia as spoilers to stability" and that the "Israeli Political Director expressed himself in a way that Russia and Israel reached a point where both accept their interests in Syria."
One cable, the Times highlighted, shows European diplomats describing a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Finland as "successful (at least for Putin)."
Another, written after a July 16 meeting, relayed a detailed report and analysis of talks between European officials and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who was quoted comparing Trump's "bullying" of Beijing to a "no-rules freestyle boxing match."
A third, from March 7, shows Caroline Vicini, the deputy head of the EU mission in Washington, recommending the trade bloc's diplomats to describe the United States as "our most important partner" even as it challenged Trump "in areas where we disagreed with the U.S. (e.g., on climate, trade, Iran nuclear deal)."
The hackers also infiltrated the networks of the United Nations, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), and ministries of foreign affairs and finance worldwide, the report added.
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