Ukraine News, Ukraine-Russia conflict, Ukraine takes down key government websites due to ‘global cyberattack’

The attack comes as tensions between Russia and the West soar over Ukraine (representational)

Kyiv, Ukraine:

Several key Ukrainian government websites were taken offline on Friday, authorities said, in a large-scale cyberattack that came amid growing tensions between Russia and Ukraine’s Western allies.

“Following a massive cyberattack, the websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a number of other government agencies are temporarily unavailable,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told AFP.

The Ministry of Education wrote on Facebook that its website was down due to a “global (cyber)attack” that took place overnight.

The cabinet website and the Ministry of Emergencies were also targeted in the attack, with services later restored to the government site.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility and Kyiv did not specify who might have been responsible. Ukraine had accused Russians with Kremlin ties of previous attacks.

“Our specialists are already working to restore the functioning of computer systems and cyberpolice have opened an investigation,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Earlier Friday, the Foreign Ministry website displayed a message in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish.

“Ukrainians! All your personal data… has been deleted and cannot be restored. All information about you has become public, be afraid and expect the worst.

“It’s for your past, your present and your future,” he said, mentioning two ultra-nationalist organizations in Ukraine.

The Department of Education said authorities – including the SBU’s security service and cyberpolice – were working to resolve the issue.

Moscow-linked Russian hackers have repeatedly been accused of cyber attacks against Ukrainian government websites and infrastructure in the past.

Stalled diplomacy

The attack comes as tensions between Russia and the West are soaring over Ukraine, a former Soviet country and close ally of the United States and Europe.

The West has accused Russia of deploying tanks, artillery and around 100,000 troops to Ukraine’s war-torn eastern border in recent weeks, in what NATO says is preparations for an invasion.

Moscow says it has no intention of invading Ukraine.

In December, Russia unveiled proposals to contain the United States and NATO in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, saying the US-led alliance should not admit Ukraine or Georgia as new members.

This week, the United States and its NATO allies held talks with Russia in an attempt to ease tensions, but all three rounds of negotiations – in Geneva, Brussels and Vienna – proved fruitless.

On Thursday, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow saw no reason to hold a new round of security talks with the West following the lack of progress.

Ryabkov also said he did not rule out the possibility that Moscow could deploy forces to its allies, Venezuela or Cuba, if diplomacy fails.

In 2020, the United States in October accused six Russians of carrying out cyberattacks against the Ukrainian power grid, the 2017 French elections and the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The then Justice Ministry said the six were current or former members of the GRU – Russia’s military intelligence and were also accused of masterminding a malware attack called “NotPetya” that infected computer computers. companies around the world, causing nearly a billion dollars in losses.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

Christi C. Elwood