Ukraine was hit this Friday by a serious computer attack that warned its citizens to “expect the worst”, while Russia, which has concentrated more than 100,000 troops on its neighbor’s border, published television images showing more troops deploying in a drill
The developments came after no breakthrough was achieved in meetings between Russia and Western states, which fear Moscow could launch another offensive against a country it invaded in 2014.
“The drumbeat of war is going strong,” said a senior US diplomat.
Russia denies plans to attack Ukraine but says it could take unspecified military action unless demands are met, including the alliance’s promise of the OTAN of never admitting Kiev.
Russia said troops in the far east would practice deploying to remote military sites for exercises as part of an inspection. Defense Ministry footage released by the RIA news agency showed numerous armored vehicles and other military equipment being loaded onto trains in the Eastern Military District.
“This is likely to be a cover for units moving into Ukraine,” said Rob Lee, a military analyst and fellow at the US-based Foreign Policy Research Institute.
The moves indicated that Russia has no intention of defusing tensions over Ukraine, as it used its troop buildup to force the West to the negotiating table and press with demands for “security guarantees,” key elements of which have been outlined. by the United States as less than optimal.
The Ukrainian authorities were investigating a large cyber attack, which affected government agencies, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Cabinet of Ministers and the Security and Defense Council.
“Ukrainians! All your personal data was uploaded to the public network. All data on the computer is destroyed, it is impossible to restore it,” read a message visible on hacked government websites, written in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish.
“All information about you has been made public, be afraid and expect the worst. This is for your past, present and future.”
The spokesman for the Ministry of External relationships Ukraine told Reuters it was too early to say who might be behind the attack, but said Russia had been behind similar attacks in the past.
Russia did not immediately comment, but has previously denied being behind the cyberattacks against Ukraine.
The European Union’s top diplomat condemned the attack and said the EU’s political and security committee and electronic technology units would meet to see how to respond and help Kiev.
“We are going to mobilize all our resources to help Ukraine deal with this cyber attack. Unfortunately, we knew it could happen,” Josep Borrell told reporters at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in the city of Brest.
The United States warned on Thursday that the threat of a Russian military invasion was high. Russia has always denied it.
Moscow said dialogue was continuing but was reaching an impasse as it tried to persuade the West to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and roll back decades of alliance expansion in Europe.