‘Enemy hackers’ broadcast fake Zelensky message on Ukrainian TV
President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Ukrainians to surrender, according to a news ticker during a live broadcast on a Ukrainian TV channel on Wednesday. The channel said the message was fake and blamed the incident on hackers.
“I advise you to lay down arms and return to your families. You shouldn't die in this war. I advise you to live, and I am going to do the same,” was the message, supposedly from the Ukrainian leader, that appeared in the middle of a regular newscast on Ukraina 24.
The channel quickly released a statement blaming “enemy hackers” for compromising the crawler. Zelensky himself soon disavowed the supposed call to surrender and described the incident as “a childish provocation.”
“I can only propose that the Russian troops lay down arms and return home,” the president said in a short video address. “We're at home, protecting our land, our children, our families. So we will not lay down arms until our victory.”
Hackers targeted several Russian media outlets shortly after Russia launched the military campaign against Ukraine on February 24. There were also reports of cyberattacks on websites of Russian and Ukrainian government agencies.
Russia attacked Ukraine following a seven-year standoff over Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk ceasefire agreements, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French-brokered deals had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc.
Kiev says the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.