Kiev was late on Thursday hit with a massive cyberattack warning Ukrainians to “be afraid and expect the worst,” amid worsening relations with Russia, as a Russian diplomat refused to rule out a military deployment to Cuba and Venezuela.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell yesterday said the EU’s political and security committee and cyberunits would meet to decide how to respond and help Ukraine.
The cyberattack, which targeted the foreign ministry, the Cabinet and the security and defense council among others, came as Kiev and its allies have sounded the alarm about a possible new Russian military offensive against Ukraine. Some Web sites were still inaccessible yesterday morning.
“We are going to mobilize all our resources to help Ukraine to tackle this cyberattack. Sadly, we knew it could happen,” Borrell told reporters at an EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Brest, France.
“It’s difficult to say [who is behind it]. I can’t blame anybody as I have no proof, but we can imagine,” he said.
A Ukraine Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said it was too early to say who could be behind the attack, but added that Russia had been behind similar strikes in the past.
Earlier on Thursday, Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Ryabkov said that he could “neither confirm nor exclude” the possibility of Russia sending military assets to Latin America if the US and its allies do not curtail their military activities on Russia’s doorstep.
“It all depends on the action by our US counterparts,” the minister said in an interview with Russian television network RTVI, citing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s warning that Moscow could take “military-technical measures” if the US and its allies fail to heed its demands.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan dismissed the statements about a possible Russian deployment as “bluster in the public commentary.”
Ryabkov led a Russian delegation in talks with the US on Monday in Geneva, while a related NATO-Russia meeting was held in Brussels.
“The threat of military invasion is high,” Sullivan said. “There are no dates set for any more talks. We have to consult with allies and partners first.”
Russia said dialogue was continuing, but was hitting a dead end as it tried to persuade the West to bar Ukraine from joining NATO and roll back decades of alliance expansion in Europe — demands that the US has called “non-starters.”
“At this stage it is really disappointing,” Russian Ambassador Alexander Lukashevich told reporters after a meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the third leg in a series of East-West talks this week.
He warned of possible “catastrophic consequences” if the two sides could not agree on what Russia has termed security red lines, but said that Moscow had not given up on diplomacy and would even speed it up.
Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Zbigniew Rau told the 57-nation security forum: “It seems that the risk of war in the OSCE area is now greater than ever before in the last 30 years.”
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