Ukraine Hit By ‘Massive Cyber Attack’ As Russia Mobilizes Troops Near Border

By Robert Hart, Forbes Staff

Topline

A “massive cyber attack” has taken multiple Ukrainian government websites offline and left messages warning the public to "prepare for the worst," a foreign ministry spokesperson announced Friday, as Russia mobilizes its forces on the shared border after a week of unsuccessful security diplomacy between Moscow and Western states.

Russia is amassing troops on the Ukraine border. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Key Facts

More than a dozen Ukrainian government sites—including for the state treasury, an electronic public records platform, ministerial cabinet, security and defense council and foreign, agriculture and energy ministries—went offline as a result of the cyberattack, according to multiple news reports, which officials are still investigating.  

The hackers reportedly left messages on targeted websites warning Ukrainians their personal data has been made public and to “prepare for the worst,” showing a graphic of the Ukrainian flag and map crossed out.  

It’s not clear who orchestrated the attack and officials said it is too early to assign blame, but noted Russia’s “long record” of cyberattacks against Ukraine.  

The attacks come after a week of tense security talks between Russia and the U.S. and its NATO allies ended in stalemate, with both sides preparing for escalation.   

The Kremlin, which has previously denied it is preparing for an invasion of Ukraine, has amassed some 100,000 troops on its side of the Russia-Ukraine border.

Key Background

The diplomatic negotiations this week were intended to prevent a war. The Kremlin wants to stop NATO expansion and secure binding guarantees Ukraine and Georgia will never join the alliance—a restriction the West said is a non-starter—as well as the withdrawal of NATO forces in the region. Russia has threatened unspecified military action if its demands are not met and diplomats fear conflict looms. It annexed Crimea by force in 2014 and later supported separatist conflict in the Donbas region.

What To Watch For

What happens next. With diplomatic talks stalled between Moscow and the West, all eyes will be on Putin. While cyberattacks have preceded Russian invasions before, including in Georgia and Crimea, the messages left on government sites are not consistent with earlier attacks, the BBC reports.  

Further Reading

EU races to help Ukraine fight cyberattack (Politico)

Russia and the West meet for a crucial week of diplomacy (The Economist)


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