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Oettinger ‘sure’ Russia spied on him during Gazprom talks


Oettinger ‘sure’ Russia spied on him during Gazprom talks

Günther Oettinger [Council of the European Union]

Spies regularly target the European Commission, the executive’s former energy boss said on Thursday (7 May), suggesting that Russia had listened in during negotiations last year over gas supplies to Ukraine.

The spying issue is especially sensitive at present, with the German media reporting that Germany’s intelligence agency, the BND, helped the US gather information on European companies, including Airbus.

“My security experts tell me regularly of attacks from both inside and outside Europe,” Günther Oettinger, Europe’s Commissioner for the Digital Economy, said in Berlin.

During his stint as Energy Commissioner, Oettinger led negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, to ensure Gazprom supplied gas to Kyiv.

>>Read: France plays down German spying accusations

Oettinger said the talks succeeded even though he was certain Moscow had given itself an unfair advantage.

“When the gas talks were going on, I am sure Gazprom knew everything. Fortunately, we were still well prepared,” he said.

Gazprom in Moscow declined to comment.

Oettinger said the European Commission, the EU executive, expected a report from Berlin in the coming weeks on whether German agencies had intercepted data from Brussels.

>>Read: BND spying affair divides German coalition

German intelligence sources told Reuters that the BND’s station in Bad Aibling this week stopped sending the NSA information garnered from Internet surveillance.

Allegations that the BND has helped the NSA spy on European officials and firms has put strains on Angela Merkel’s governing coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) and could damage U.S. relations and even the conservative chancellor’s own popularity.