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Meloni is a “target” for Putin, says her Undersecretary for Intelligence

According to PM aide Mantovano, the Russian hybrid attack that resulted in her diplomatic advisor resigning demonstrates that the Kremlin is targeting the Italian leader. Cyberattacks are on the rise, and officials expect them to increase closer to the EU elections

Meloni is “a target” for Putin, says top official. Speaking to Radio24, Alfredo Mantovano – Undersecretary to Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and among her closest allies, who also oversees intelligence matters – stressed that the phone incident and the details that have emerged since the matter became public confirm the fact that she is a target for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

  • “There has been an attempt to get her to make some communication mistakes,” he said, noting that it was because the PM told the Russian pranksters who duped her office “the same things she says in public.”

A step back. Over the past week, it became known that two Kremlin-aligned Russian comics had tricked PM Meloni’s office into getting on the phone with her (here’s how they did it) and recorded the conversation, which they then made public. Critics lashed out against the office’s security protocols, leading Ambassador Francesco Talò to take responsibility for the incident and resign from his role as diplomatic advisor at the PM’s office.

  • The matter is now closed after his resignation, said Undersecretary Mantovano, praising Ambassador Talò for the dignity he displayed. For all intents and purposes, his resignation was a victory for the Kremlin.

It’s a hybrid war. As we reported, that sophisticated operation was just another example of Russia’s multifaceted hybrid aggression against all those who oppose its invasion of Ukraine – Italy especially, as it used to be closer to the Kremlin. “Cyber and hybrid threats have multiplied,” noted Undersecretary Mantovano, stressing that Russian-aligned attacks are now a daily occurrence – “but the system is equipped to deal with them.”

  • When Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky travelled to Rome in May, Russia-linked threat actors NoName057 flooded institutional websites with DDoS cyberattacks. And it’s not unlikely that parallel cybercriminal groups have supported the most recent wave of pro-Palestine attacks against Italian ports and airports.
  • “We expect more [hybrid attacks] between now and the European elections because this is the new frontier of war,” said Mr Mantovano.

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