The European Union quickly condemned this computer sabotage, its head of diplomacy, Josep Borrell, saying that all means were mobilized to help Kiev.
Ukraine and its Western allies have repeatedly accused Russian hacker teams of carrying out coordinated attacks against their strategic sites and infrastructure, which Moscow denies.
At midday on Friday, the sites of several Ukrainian ministries, including those of Foreign Affairs and Emergency Situations, remained inaccessible, AFP noted.
The sites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a number of other government agencies are temporarily out of service, said in the morning the spokesman for Ukrainian diplomacy.
Before the Ukrainian diplomacy site was made inaccessible, a threatening message – in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish – had been published on its homepage by the perpetrators of the attack.
Ukrainians, be afraid and prepare for the worst. All your personal data has been uploaded to the web, could we read in this message accompanied by several logos, including a crossed out Ukrainian flag.
The authorities, however, denied any data theft.
content of the sites has not been modified and no leak of personal data has taken place, according to the information available, assured the Ukrainian intelligence services (SBU).
Many of the government resources that were affected have already been restored, and the rest will be available again very soon., they continued, indicating that sites had been voluntarily deactivated to prevent
spread of attacks.
The origin of this hack was not immediately known and the Ukrainian authorities did not charge anyone. But it comes amid growing tensions between Ukraine and neighboring Russia, which Kiev and its Western allies accuse of planning another invasion of Ukrainian territory.
Large-scale computer sabotage targeting strategic Ukrainian infrastructure in order to disrupt the authorities is one of the scenarios mentioned as being the harbinger of a classic military offensive.
Ukraine has been the target of cyberattacks lent to Russia several times in recent years, notably in 2017 against several critical infrastructures and in 2015 against its electricity network.
US justice revealed in October that it had indicted six Russian military intelligence agents for these cyberattacks and others around the world.
These Russian hackers, aged 27 to 35, are accused of carrying out their operations between 2015 and 2019 from an army building nicknamed
Tower, in Moscow,
for the strategic benefit of Russia, according to the US indictment.
In 2015 in Ukraine, a cyberattack caused a major power outage for several hours in the west of the country. It had been attributed to Russia, but the latter never acknowledged its responsibility.
Several DDoS (denial of service) attacks from Russia have also already hit the Ukrainian Election Commission, according to Kiev.
Friday’s attack comes after several talks between Russian and Western officials have taken place in recent days to defuse the crisis around Ukraine, without producing any breakthrough.
Moscow has indicated that it does not see the point of resuming these discussions in the short term, while ensuring that it has no
intention to invade its neighbour.
In this tense context, the Russian Ministry of Defense published images of military maneuvers on Friday with 2,500 soldiers and a hundred tanks taking place about fifty kilometers from the Ukrainian border.
Russia invaded and then annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula after a pro-Western revolution in 2014.
Moscow is also widely seen as the military and financial godfather of pro-Russian separatists at war with Ukrainian authorities in the east of the country since 2014.