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Westerners accuse Russia of crippling satellites to prepare for the invasion of Ukraine

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The Europeans and the United States formally accused Russian authorities on Tuesday of having carried out a cyberattack against a network of satellites just before its offensive against Ukraine in late February, to prepare the ground. The West promises to continue to help kyiv strengthen its cyber defenses.

The European Union and the United States formally accused Russian authorities on Tuesday (May 10) of having carried out a cyberattack against a network of satellites just before its offensive against Ukraine to prepare the ground. This is the first time that the EU has openly accused the Russian government of having carried out a cyberattack, said the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell during a press conference in Brussels.

The cyberattack took place an hour before the start of the invasion

“We can attribute it to the Russian government,” European foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters in Brussels, adding that it was the first time the European Union had openly accused Moscow’s power of being responsible. of a cyberattack. “The cyberattack took place an hour before Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, facilitating military aggression,” the EU said in a statement on behalf of the 27 member states.

“The attack caused significant disruptions in communications that affected public services, businesses and citizen users in Ukraine, and it also affected several EU member states,” she recalls. “The European Union and its Member States, together with its international partners, strongly condemn the malicious cyber activity carried out by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, which has targeted the KA-SAT satellite network, operated by Viasat.”

Multiple cyberattacks listed

The EU has so far claimed that the cyberattacks came “from within Russia”, but without directly incriminating the Russian authorities. In coordination with its European allies, the United States released its own analysis, blaming the hack on Moscow. According to the head of the American diplomacy Antony Blinken, the attack “disabled micro earth stations in Ukraine and across Europe” which notably operate “wind turbines” and “carry internet to ordinary citizens”.

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Washington also accuses cyber agents of the Russian army of having “deployed several families of ‘wiper’ malware”, which erase all data from targeted computers, “in the networks of the Ukrainian administration and private sector”. “These destabilizing cyber operations began in January” and “continued during the war,” added the US Secretary of State in a statement.

‘Clear evidence of a deliberate and malicious attack’

“This is clear and shocking evidence of a deliberate and malicious attack by Russia on Ukraine, which had significant consequences for ordinary citizens and businesses in Ukraine and across Europe,” added UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. The European Union plans in its statement to “take further measures to prevent, deter, deter and respond to such malicious behavior in cyberspace”, in coordination with its allies.

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Westerners also promise to continue to help kyiv strengthen its cyber defenses. The attack on US satellite operator Viasat knocked thousands of internet users offline in Germany, France, Hungary, Greece, Italy and Poland.

The scenario of global cyberattacks avoided so far

“Viasat said tens of thousands of terminals had been damaged, rendered inoperable and could not be repaired,” the UK Foreign Office said. Russia invaded its pro-Western neighbor in the early hours of February 24, seeking to take the capital, kyiv. The assault has now lasted for more than two months and the resistance of the Ukrainians has inflicted heavy losses on the Russian army, forced to refocus its attack on the east of the country.

The military and experts have feared that Russia’s war in Ukraine could lead to a wave of devastating cyberattacks that could have a global effect. But the worst-case scenario has been avoided so far, as the observed attacks appear to be contained in their impact and geographic reach.

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