Ukraine: Daily Briefing – January 28, 2019, 6 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
January 28, 2019, 6 PM Kyiv time
Operation UNIFIER training exercises. Photo – CAF Operations

1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed or wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk sector of the front once.
2. Ukraine sees surge in cyber attacks targeting election
Reuters reported on January 25, “Hackers likely controlled by Russia are stepping up efforts to disrupt Ukraine’s presidential election in March with cyber attacks on electoral servers and personal computers of election staff, the head of Ukraine’s cyber police said on Friday. Serhiy Demedyuk told Reuters the attackers were using virus-infected greeting cards, shopping invitations, offers for software updates and other malicious ‘phishing’ material intended to steal passwords and personal information.
Ten weeks before the elections, hackers were also buying personal details of election officials, Demedyuk said, paying in cryptocurrency on the dark web, part of the internet accessible only through certain software and typically used anonymously.
          ‘There are constant attacks – they go from simple (software) to applications that one or another employee uses,’ he said, adding they were reminiscent of cyber attacks on the country’s energy, transport and banking systems seen since 2014.
          ‘Payment occurs in cryptocurrency in most cases … and from the same wallets that were used to finance the previous attacks. This indicates that the same hacker organizations that are under the control of Russian special agencies are engaged in this,’ Demedyuk said. […]
          According to the cyber police, no infiltration into the electoral system has been recorded yet, but they expect even larger attacks a month before the elections when the commission’s regional offices will start working.
         The hackers buying personal details of election officials were concentrating on civil servants and employees who keep the commission’s equipment running, he said. On phishing attacks, Demedyuk said ‘virus-laden New Year’s greetings on behalf of government bodies or the governments have become so widespread that they are just overwhelming.’
        ‘Such mailing lists, spam letters are sent to them and their relatives, which contains malware to control their computer equipment. This is the easiest way, but it is effective.’ The cyber police worry that critical infrastructure in sectors such as energy and banking may again become the object of cyber attacks during or before the elections using malware to create so-called ‘back doors’ for a large coordinated attack.”
3. Ukraine PM attends Ukrainian-Norwegian business forum; preliminary contracts of $1.5 billion signed
Press conference, Prime Ministers of Ukraine and Norway. Photo – Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers

Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers reported, “The potential volume of Norwegian investments in the Ukrainian economy can reach USD 1.5 billion, of which about USD 800 million is the amount to be invested in the renewable energy sector. This was announced by Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman on the outcomes of the Ukrainian-Norwegian business forum. The event took place in Oslo as part of the official visit of the Head of Government to the Kingdom of Norway.
          ‘Today, we have signed preliminary contracts to the tune of about USD 1.5 billion, of which the investment in renewable energy is worth about USD 1 billion,’ stressed Volodymyr Groysman, adding that the cooperation agenda is quite broad: agriculture, IT sector, automotive industry. At that, the renewable energy segment includes wind, solar and hydro energy.”
4. Canadian and U.S. fighter planes scramble to escort Russian jets out of Arctic region
The Associated Press reported on January 26, “Military authorities say U.S. Air Force and Canadian fighter jets were scrambled to escort two Russian bombers that were travelling in the Arctic region near the North American coastline.
          The North American Aerospace Defence Command said two F-22 and two CF-18 fighter jets identified two Russian Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers that were entering an area patrolled by the Royal Canadian Air Force on Saturday.
There were no reports of conflict between the Russian and the U.S. and Canadian jets. NORAD said it uses radar, satellites and fighter aircraft to patrol the skies and monitor aircraft entering U.S. or Canadian airspace.
         ‘NORAD’s top priority is defending Canada and the United States. Our ability to protect our nations starts with successfully detecting, tracking, and positively identifying aircraft of interest approaching U.S. and Canadian airspace,’ Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, the NORAD commander, said in a statement.”
5. Atlantic Council: If Russia stops fighting, there will be no war. If Ukraine stops fighting, there will be no Ukraine

Atlantic Council non-resident fellow Peter Dickinson wrote, “Russia’s war against Ukraine is about to enter its sixth year, but many remain in denial over the true nature of the conflict.There is still widespread international reluctance to acknowledge the global significance of Vladimir Putin’s invasion, leading to a preference for the kind of euphemistic language that blurs the lines between victim and aggressor. This ostrich-like approach to the realities of the new Russian imperialism was on display during German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas’s recent visit to Kyiv, where he called on ‘all sides to contribute to de-escalation.’

          Maas was apparently untroubled by the absurdity of urging Ukraine to de-escalate its own invasion and dismemberment. Indeed, it says much about the current climate that one of Europe’s top diplomats felt comfortable coming to the capital of a country fighting for its life and delivering a lecture on the need for moderation.
         Nor is he alone. Ever since the onset of Russian aggression in spring 2014, international appeals for both sides to de-escalate have become a depressingly regular feature of the dialogue surrounding the conflict, serving as the diplomatic equivalent of victim blaming. […]
         The West’s refusal to recognize the scale of Russian imperial ambitions in Ukraine is not exclusively the product of hybrid war trickery and willful geopolitical blindness. It is also a matter of ignorance and misconceptions. The depth of Russian resentment over the country’s diminished post-Soviet status is simply incomprehensible to modern Western audiences who are more inclined to assume that Russians broadly share their values. […] Few can begin to fathom that today’s Russians might actually be prepared to sacrifice their living standards, never mind their lives, in pursuit of archaic colonial conquests. […]
         Calling on Ukraine to compromise with the Russian invader is not only morally reprehensible. It is also strategically foolish. The West already finds itself locked in a new Cold War with Moscow that has its roots firmly planted in Ukraine. Until the war in Ukraine ends, this confrontation will continue to escalate. Since it first attacked Ukraine, Russia has expanded its hybrid hostilities on a dizzying array of fronts, ranging from Syria to the 2016 US presidential election. […]
        This makes it essential that the international community sends the right signals to the Kremlin now. In the coming months, any talk of both sides de-escalating needs to be replaced by clear and unambiguous support for Ukraine in its defense against Russian aggression. Moscow should be made painfully aware of the consequences should it seek to test Western resolve and Ukrainian resilience any further.
        The new Cold War is the direct result of Western efforts since 2014 to appease Moscow and avoid the uncomfortable reality of a revanchist Russia. This brand of wishful thinking must give way to the kind of clarity that won the first Cold War. Ultimately, there can be no equivalence between Ukrainian resistance and Russian aggression. If Russia stops fighting, there will be no war. If Ukraine stops fighting, there will be no Ukraine.”

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