Major Ukrainian government websites affected by “massive cyber attacks”

In a major cyber-attack amid growing tensions between Russia and Ukraine’s Western allies, officials said several key Ukrainian government websites had been taken offline on Friday.

A State Department spokesman told AFP that “as a result of the massive cyber attack, the websites of the State Department and several other government agencies have been temporarily shut down.”

The Ministry of Education wrote on Facebook that its website had been shut down due to an “overnight” cyber attack.

The attack also targeted the cabinet website and the Ministry of Emergency Situations, and services were later restored to the official site.

No immediate claim of responsibility was made, and Kiev did not say who was responsible, but Ukraine has blamed Kremlin-linked Russians for previous attacks.

“Our experts are already working to restore the functioning of the IT system, and the cyber police have launched an investigation,” the State Department said.

The Foreign Ministry’s website was showing a message in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish languages ​​early Friday.

“Ukraine! All your personal data … has been deleted and is impossible to restore. All information about you has become public, fear and expect the worst.”

“This is for your past, present and future,” he said, referring to two highly nationalist organizations in Ukraine.

The education ministry said authorities – including the SBU security service and the cyber police – were working to resolve the issue.

Moscow-linked Russian hackers have repeatedly been blamed for cyber attacks on Ukrainian government websites and infrastructure in the past.

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

The West has accused Russia in recent weeks of deploying tanks, artillery and about 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s war-torn eastern border, in which NATO says it is preparing for an attack.

Moscow says it has no plans to invade Ukraine.

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

This week, the United States and its NATO allies held talks with Russia in an effort to reduce tensions, but all three rounds of talks – in Geneva, Brussels and Vienna – failed.

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

Ryabkov also said he did not rule out the possibility that Moscow could deploy troops to allied Venezuela or Cuba if diplomacy fails.

In 2020, the United States accused six Russians in October of carrying out cyber attacks on Ukraine’s power grid, the 2017 French election and the 2018 Winter Olympics.

At the time, the Justice Department said six people were current or former members of GRU – Russian military intelligence and were also accused of carrying out malware attacks called “NotPetya” that infected the computers of businesses around the world. That cost about 1 billion.