In a large-scale cyber attack on Friday, hackers targeted multiple Ukrainian government websites, resulting in the suspension of vital platforms in the former Soviet republic only hours after US and European officials ended a series of high-stakes negotiations with Russia.
On Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry website, the hackers placed a statement warning that the emerging democracy and its residents should “be terrified and expect the worst.”
According to Agence France-Presse, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s foreign ministry said, “The websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a number of other government organizations are temporarily down as a result of a large cyberattack.”
Hackers further threatened that “all” of Ukrainians’ personal data had been “lost” and would be “difficult to retrieve,” according to the message. It was unclear whether the threat was legitimate at the time.
Russian operatives have long been blamed by US intelligence services for earlier cyber assaults against Ukraine.
Friday’s developments come at a time when Moscow and Kiev are at odds, with fears that a Russian military invasion of the former Soviet republic, which is allied with the United States and Western Europe, is near.
In a series of conversations this week, the US and its European partners attempted to defuse tensions with Russia, which has amassed almost 100,000 troops on its border with Ukraine. The buildup has raised fears that Moscow is planning an invasion similar to the one that led to Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014.