Russia responds to Ukrainian cyberattack claims
Russia’s embassy in the US has said that Moscow had “nothing to do” with a series of cyberattacks on Ukraine’s Defense Ministry and several banks. In this case, even the White House has admitted it pinned the blame on the country with “unusual” speed.
“We categorically reject these baseless statements of the administration and note that Russia has nothing to do with the mentioned events and in principle has never conducted and does not conduct any ‘malicious’ operations in cyberspace,” read a statement from the Russian diplomatic mission late Saturday.
Hours before, White House Deputy National Security Advisor Anne Neuberger told reporters that the US believes hackers working with Russian military intelligence were responsible for distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks reported by Ukraine’s Defense Ministry and some of the country’s financial institutions earlier this week.
Neuberger said that high volumes of communication between IP addresses allegedly linked with the Russian military and addresses in Ukraine served as proof of Russia’s involvement.
However, she admitted that the US investigation into the attacks was rushed. “The speed with which we made that attribution ... is very unusual,” she said, adding that “we’ve done so because of a need to call out the behavior quickly, as part of holding nations accountable when they conduct disruptive or destabilizing cyber activity.”
Russia’s embassy accused Neuberger of making “purely anti-Russian statements.”
The claims and counterclaims come at a critical time for US-Russia relations. The US has for several weeks been predicting an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine and promising to retaliate with economic sanctions should that invasion materialize. American officials pointed to several potential start dates earlier this week for a Russian military offensive, all of which have passed without event.
However, the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine have come under intense fire over the last 24 hours, with leaders in these regions blaming Ukrainian forces. Kiev has denied ordering an invasion of Donetsk or Lugansk.
Russia has also denied any plans of invasion, but has taken in thousands of refugees from the breakaway regions as they ordered evacuation of civilians citing threat of possible “breakthrough” by Ukrainian forces.