Ukraine: Daily Briefing – March 29, 2019, 7 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
March 29, 2019, 7 PM Kyiv time
AUF and CAF members training exercises during Operation UNIFIER Photo – CAF
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that on March 28, the Ukrainian Armed Forces suffered no casualties. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire seven times on Ukrainian positions in the Donetsk and Luhansk sector using heavy weapons in four instances.
According to the Ukrainian military intelligence report three invaders were wounded as a result of returning fire by the Ukrainian Armed Forces on March 28.
2. Canadian Navy Enters the Black Sea as NATO Maritime Group 2
 
The Canadian frigate “Toronto.” Photo courtesy of Yoruk Sirik
The Dutch Navy destroyer “Evertsen”, the Canadian frigate “Toronto” and the Spanish frigate “Santa Maria” entered the Black Sea on March 28 to participate in the “Sea Shield” exercise per Ukraine’s invitation. For the next three weeks the Canadian warship will be joining NATO allies in the Black Sea to conduct exercises and patrols as part of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2.
Reportedly, Russia’s Defence Ministry issued an immediate statement saying that their ships formed up a convoy to escort three NATO frigates that entered the Black Sea region at the invitation of Ukraine to participate in the exercises.
In addition, the Russian military have been conducted training exercises in the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, with more than 5,000 troops participating including the 58th and 49th Military Air Defense Forces. Russia’s military exercises expands through the territory of Dagestan, North Ossetia, Rostov region, occupied Crimea, Stavropol, as well as in the Black Sea and Caspian Sea.
3. NYT: In Ukraine, Russia Tests a New Facebook Tactic in Election Tampering
Picture courtesy of technewsworld
On Sunday, March 31, Ukraine will hold the 2019 presidential elections. With several days left before the voting the Ukrainian State Security Service (SBU) uncovered another Russian plot that was supposed to undermine the elections using Facebook.
“Unlike the 2016 interference in the United States, which centered on fake Facebook pages created by Russians in faraway St. Petersburg, the operation in Ukraine this year had a clever twist. It tried to circumvent Facebook’s new safeguards by paying Ukrainian citizens to give a Russian agent access to their personal pages,” reads the New York Times article
SBU provided footage of the interrogation where a person who identified himself as a Russian agent was looking for people in Ukraine who would be willing to rent or sell their Facebook accounts. The goal was to use access to these accounts to publish articles or buy political ads.
“Facebook officials insisted that the company is ready, reminding that […] in January it announced the takedown of a coordinated effort involving nearly 150 fake accounts, which appeared to mimic a disinformation campaign by Russia’s Internet Research Agency during the 2018 midterm election campaign in the United States. On Tuesday, the company announced another takedown involving nearly 2,000 Russia-linked pages, groups and accounts, some involved in posting disinformation about Ukraine.”
To read the New York Times article click here
4. Ukraine’s SBU: Russia was preparing a hacker attack on the popular Ukrainian media
Picture is a Youtube screenshot from Live Hacking Attack
On March 29 the State Security Service (SBU) has released a statement about yet another insidious plan by a group of hackers controlled by the Russian intelligence agencies to launch cyberattacks on popular media and telecommunication facilities in Ukraine on the eve of the presidential election.
According to the SBU press service in the past few months hackers created an Internet infrastructure of several dozen domains whose names coincide or are similar to the official domains of popular Ukrainian electronic media, telecom operators and large telecommunications companies. These domain names were first spotted on the servers of several Russian Internet service providers, and the accounts used for their registration were used for cyberattacks at government agencies during 2018.
“They helped create a number of command-control servers for managing virus attacks by a well-known hacker group of the Russian Federation,” the statement said.
SBU believes that the intention of the cyberattack was to create “maximum public resonance and negative informational influence on the eve of the election of the President of Ukraine.”
On another note, on March 27, the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine (SZRU) reported today that “Russia intends to carry out unprecedented cyberattacks on the servers of the Central Election Commission and district election commissions of Ukraine on the day of the presidential election in order to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the process.”
5. SBU Disrupts Operation of fake UPA and UNA Groups Run from Russia
Photo of the seized weapons. Photo – SBU press service
Today, the State Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) press service announced that it halted the activities of Russia-led extremist organizations which aims to destabilize the situation in Ukraine during the election.
Members of these groups received a task from the Russian special services to create the “Ukrainian Insurgent Army” (UPA) and the “Ukrainian National Army” (UNA) paramilitary formations.
The groups were coordinated by the native of the Russian Federation, Rustam Tashbayev, the Kaliningrad Naval Academy graduate and now a US citizen who was expelled from Ukraine in 2015 for subversive activities. According to SBU, the UNA was headed by a local resident Yuriy Zabolotny, who was repeatedly detained by National Police officers for illegal storage of weapons and robbery. An agent from Russian special services Mykola Dulsky supplied cash for extremist activity.
SBU press service
“The Russian track in the activities of the UNA was confirmed by the results of the searches conducted by the SBU in Odesa,” said Vasily Hrytsak, the head of the SBU. “Two people were the citizens of the Russian Federation and the unrecognized Transnistrian People’s Republic, and the third one was a citizen of Ukraine, a native of Transnistria,” confirmed the SBU chief. During the search the security service seized ammunition, weapons, military equipment, communication devices and a thousand copies of newspapers with an appeal to join UNA’s activities.
6. Brookings Institute: Want to know what’s next in Russian election interference? Pay attention to Ukraine’s elections
If you want to know what’s next in Russian election interference you’ve got to pay attention to Ukraine’s elections, suggested Alina Polyakova, the resident of Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, in her latest article.
To prevent Ukraine from leaving Russia’s orbit Kremlin tries to keep it in a permanent “grey zone” through the deployment of conventional and unconventional military means, by using it as a test-lab for its political and information warfare, cyberattacks, as well as employing the export of corruption.
There have been at least 15 known Russian-attributed cyberattacks on Ukraine since 2014. A December 2015 cyber-attack caused a blackout affecting over 230,000 Ukrainians. The malware used in that attack has been detected in electric utilities in the United States. In June 2017, the “NotPetya” virus, which the United States attributed to the Russian military, originated in Ukraine and spread to 64 countries, including the United States, and affected major international companies, logistical operators, government agencies, telecommunication providers, and financial institutions.
Polyakova suggested that Moscow sees a successful democratic Ukraine as a threat to President Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian regime. “It is in Russia’s interest to see Ukraine’s democratic and economic reforms fail,” concluded the author.
7. Click on the picture below to listen to UCC CEO of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Ihor Michalchyshyn speak about the #KyivNotKiev movement and recent UCC highlights.

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