Biden Admin: Russian Forces Still Edging on Ukraine, Series of DDoS Cyber Attacks

russia ukraine
A serviceman of Ukrainian Military Forces speaks as he keeps position on the front line with Russia backed separatists, near Novolugansk, in the Donetsk region, on February 17, 2022. (Photo by ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images)

February 17, 2022

The United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) issued public statements that Russian forces are still edging on Ukraine despite Russia’s claims of withdrawal. NATO member leaders met on Feb. 16 to address the threat of Russian forces in Ukraine and the increasing pressure surrounding nuclear safety.

Russia’s defense ministry posted a video Wednesday showing their tanks leaving annexed Crimea after drills. However, President Biden said that more than 150,000 Russian troops are still situated near Ukraine’s borders, according to Reuters.  

“NATO remains prepared for dialogue,” said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg

“NATO has sent concrete written proposals to Russia on transparency, risk reduction, and arms control. I reiterate my invitation to Russia to meet again in the NATO-Russia Council. NATO will not compromise on core principles; the right of each nation to choose its own path and our ability to protect and defend our allies,” the Secretary-General added. 

The meeting discussed that Russia has a high-impact force at the ready with the capacity to host a land invasion from Crimea to Belarus. NATO states that this “is the biggest concentration of forces in Europe since the Cold War.” 

Secretary-General Stoltenberg says that he “welcomes” an offer by the French forces to lead a battle-ready group in Romania. 

Press Office Warns of Cyber Threats

On Feb. 16, the Office of the U.S. Press Secretary Jen Psaki made a public statement regarding a recent DDoS cyber attack on the Ukraine Ministry of Defense. The cyber attack impacted the state bank of Ukraine, wrote the Ukraine Ministry of Defense on Feb. 15. A series of DDoS attack cyber events targeted financial and military services within the country. 

“We don’t have any new details on an attribution.  Cyber attribution takes time, in part because adversaries usually try to hide their tracks and it takes time to gather and analyze relevant information.  And these can be—these types of incidents—DDoS incidents can be particularly hard—harder to trace,” said Psaki, adding that the U.S. had been cooperating with the Ukraine MoD in support of the investigation of the attack. With U.S. support, Psaki said that some of Ukraine’s affected sites were coming back online. 

Psaki then addressed the possibility that the recent Russian military demonstrations in the region, and the DDoS attack were interlinked. 

“I would note, again, as I said yesterday, we’ve been warning for months, both publicly and privately, in our engagements with the Ukrainians and the Europeans that the potential for Russia to conduct cyber operations in Ukraine is part of their playbook as well,” said Psaki, emphasizing that, as of Feb. 16, the department did not have details to confirm specific attribution for the attack. 

The Kremlin denied involvement, according to Reuters

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