Several key Ukrainian government websites were taken offline Friday, authorities said, in a sweeping cyber attack that came against the backdrop of rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine’s Western allies.
“As a result of a massive cyberattack, the websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a number of other government agencies are temporarily down,” a foreign ministry spokesman told AFP.
The education ministry wrote on Facebook that its website was down due to a “global (cyber) attack” that had taken place overnight.
The website of the cabinet and the emergencies ministry were also targeted in the attack, with services later restored to the government site.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility and Kyiv did not say who may have been responsible. Ukraine had blamed Russians with links to the Kremlin for previous attacks.
“Our specialists are already working on restoring the work of IT systems, and the cyber police opened an investigation,” the foreign ministry said.
The foreign ministry website earlier Friday was displaying a message in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish languages.
“Ukrainians! All your personal data … have been deleted and are impossible to restore. All information about you has become public, be afraid and expect the worst.”
“This is for your past, present and future,” it said, mentioning two ultra-nationalist organisations in Ukraine.
The education ministry said that authorities — including the SBU security service and cyberpolice — were working to address the issue.
Russian hackers linked to Moscow 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 are soaring over Ukraine, an ex-Soviet country and close ally of the United States and Europe.
The West has accused Russia of deploying tanks, artillery and about 100,000 soldiers on Ukraine’s war-torn eastern border in recent weeks, in what NATO says is preparation for an invasion.
Moscow says it has no plans to invade Ukraine.
In December, Russia unveiled proposals to contain the United States and NATO in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, saying that the US-led alliance should not admit Ukraine or Georgia as new members.
This week the United States and its NATO allies held talks with Russia in an attempt to ease tensions, but all three rounds of negotiations — in Geneva, Brussels and Vienna — proved unsuccessful.
On Thursday, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow saw no reason to hold a new round of security talks with the West following a lack of progress.
Ryabkov also said he did not rule out the possibility that Moscow could deploy forces to allies Venezuela or Cuba if diplomacy failed.
In 2020, the United States in October charged six Russians with carrying out cyber attacks on Ukraine’s power grid, the 2017 French elections and the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The justice department at the time said the six were current or former members of the GRU — Russian military intelligence and were also accused of staging a malware attack called “NotPetya” that infected computers of businesses worldwide causing nearly $1 billion in losses.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)