A massive cyberattack hit Ukraine's government websites on Thursday, prompting Kyiv to launch an investigation. Kyiv says around 70 government sites were hit by a cyberattack that brought down several websites.
According to Ukraine's foreign ministry spokesperson, it was too early to determine the mastermind of the online attack, according to a Reuters report. However, the official pointed out that Russia had been responsible for similar cyberattacks in the past years.
Attackers Want Ukraine To "Be Afraid"
The cyberattack, which hit the websites of the foreign ministry, the cabinet of ministers, and the security and defense council, among others, occurred as Kyiv and its allies have warned off about a possible new Russian military offensive against Ukraine in the coming days.
"Ukrainian! All your personal data was uploaded to the public network. All data on the computer is destroyed, it is impossible to restore it. All information about you has become public, be afraid and expect the worst. This is for your past, present and future," said a message, written in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish languages, posted on the hacked websites.
The Ukrainian government later announced that most of the affected sites had been restored and data were safe. Several other government websites have been stopped to prevent the spread of cyber assault, as per ABC News.
Russian foreign ministry has not issued a statement about the incident. It previously denied involvement in cyberattacks in Ukraine.
After a flurry of security talks in Europe this week that led to no significant results, the United States issued a warning that the Russian military invasion of Ukraine is highly possible.
Russia said talks were ongoing but had reached a stalemate in its efforts to persuade the West to block Ukraine from joining NATO.
Moscow has stated that it wants to continue diplomacy but denies calls to withdraw the military from the Ukraine border. It also threatened Western forces with repercussions if its conditions were not met.
Relations between Ukraine and Russia deteriorated in 2014, following Moscow's takeover of Crimea and the outbreak of war in eastern Ukraine between Kyiv forces and Russian-backed separatists. Since that year, Ukraine has suffered a series of cyber assaults that affected power supplies, marketplaces, and banking systems.
US Intelligence: Russian Operatives Set To Frame Ukraine
According to a CNN report, the US government holds information that Russia has deployed a squad of operatives to execute a false-flag operation in eastern Ukraine in establishing a pretext for an invasion.
One official said the information indicates that the operatives are trained in urban warfare and using explosives geared up to sabotage Russia's proxy forces.
The claim is similar to one issued by Ukraine's Ministry of Defense, which claimed that Russian special forces are plotting provocations against the Russian military to frame Ukraine.
"Our intelligence community has developed information, which has now been downgraded, that Russia is laying the groundwork to have the option of fabricating the pretext for an invasion," National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said during a media briefing on Thursday.
The US official added that the Biden administration believes Russia is plotting an invasion of Ukraine that could result in extensive human rights violations and war crimes if diplomatic negotiations fail to achieve their goals.