Cyberattack hits Ukrainian government websites

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“Following a massive cyberattack, the websites of the Foreign Ministry and a number of other government agencies are temporarily unavailable,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said on Friday. on his official Twitter account.

“Our specialists have already started to restore the functioning of the computer systems, and the cyberpolice have opened an investigation,” he added.

The attack appears to be a low-level incident but is symbolic at the end of a week of frantic diplomacy involving NATO, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and bilateral talks between Russia and United States. all aimed at trying to defuse tensions on the Ukrainian border.

“According to an investigation by the Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security, initial data suggests that the attack was carried out by the Russian Federation,” Ukraine’s information ministry said in a statement.

“This is not the first time or even the second time that Ukrainian Internet resources have been attacked since the start of Russian military aggression,” he added.

Most of the affected state resources have already been restored, according to Ukraine’s security service, which said personal data was not breached.

Early Friday morning local time, Ukrainian government websites, including that of the Foreign Ministry, displayed dark screens with threatening text stating that Ukrainians’ personal information had been hacked.

“Ukrainian! All your personal data has been uploaded to the public network. All data on the computer is destroyed, it is impossible to restore it,” reads the message, published in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish.

“All information about you has become public, be afraid and expect the worst. This is for you for your past, your present and your future. For Volhynia, for OUN UIA [Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists Ukrainian Insurgent Army], for Galicia, for Polesia and for historic lands,” the webpage reads.

The UIA and OUN were Ukrainian ultra-nationalist groups that fought for independence during the Soviet era, while Galicia, Volhynia and Polesia are areas from which they historically enjoyed high levels of support.

A statement from Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture and Information Policy suggested the text mentioned the groups and regions as “a means of concealing the ‘Russian footprint’ from hackers”.

“It is obvious that this was done on purpose to cast a shadow over the hacker attack on Poland: Russia and its proxies have been working for a long time to create a feud between two friendly neighboring countries,” the ministry added in a statement. .

Ukraine’s Security Service said in a statement that although “provocative messages were posted on the main page of these sites”, the content of the sites was not changed, adding “the leakage of personal data, according to the preliminary information, did not occur.”

The websites of the Ministries of Education, Foreign Affairs, Sports, Energy, Agrarian Policy, Veterans Affairs, Environment and Ukrainian State Emergency Service and State Treasury were targeted, according to state media Ukrinform.

On Friday, the Ministry of Education and Science, whose official website is down, asked citizens to use the ministry’s official social networks while the issue is being resolved.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Friday condemned the cyberattack, adding that it is “difficult to say” who is behind the hacks.

“We have to say that this deserves to be called for great condemnation,” he told reporters at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brest, western France.

“We will mobilize all our resources to help Ukraine deal with this cyberattack. Unfortunately, we knew it could happen,” he added.

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said on Friday it was “too early to draw conclusions” about the origin of the attack, but said there was “a long list of Russian cyberattacks against Ukraine in the past”.

Separately, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry alleged in a statement on Friday that Russian special services were preparing provocations against servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces in order to accuse Ukraine.

The statement from the ministry’s intelligence directorate said, “Military units of the aggressor country and its satellites are ordered to prepare for such provocations.”

CNN has contacted the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.

Tensions with Russia at their highest

The United States and Russia met this week for high-stakes talks aimed at averting a war, as Russia continued to amass troops near Ukraine’s borders amid a dispute over the activities of NATO in Eastern Europe and the prospect of Ukraine joining the military alliance.

Tensions between Ukraine and Russia are at their highest in years, with Russia’s military buildup raising fears that Moscow could launch an invasion in the coming weeks or months.

Ukraine has said Russia is trying to destabilize the country ahead of any planned military invasion, and Western powers have repeatedly warned Russia against further aggressive moves.

The Kremlin denies plans to attack and argues that NATO support for Ukraine – including increased arms supplies and military training – poses a growing threat on the flank western Russia.

A senior US official has warned that “the drumbeat of war is ringing loudly” after a week of talks that ended on Thursday without clear breakthroughs.

Putin's big miscalculation

Russian officials have suggested they are close to abandoning talks over the refusal of the United States and NATO to meet Moscow’s main demands: a guarantee that Ukraine will never be allowed to join the NATO and that the alliance cancels its expansion in Eastern Europe.

On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a press briefing that while Moscow’s proposals “are aimed at reducing military confrontation, defusing the overall situation in Europe, exactly the opposite is happening. In Occident”.

He said: “We absolutely do not accept the appearance of the North Atlantic Alliance on our borders, especially given the trajectory followed by the Ukrainian leadership – both past and present. really are the red lines and they know this.”

Katharina Krebs reported from Kyiv and Jake Kwon reported from Seoul. Jeremy Herb, Jennifer Hansler, Alex Marquardt, Kylie Atwood and Dalal Mawad contributed reporting.

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