Russia-Ukraine: Two years of war
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Russian hackers knock millions of Ukrainians offline

A woman walks past a store of Ukraine's telecommunications company Kyivstar, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine December 12, 2023.

A woman walks past a store of Ukraine's telecommunications company Kyivstar, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine December 12, 2023.

REUTERS/Alina Smutko

Russian ground forces haven’t made much progress in Ukraine. Nearly two years after an invasion that was supposed to quickly and easily deliver Kyiv to Kremlin control, the Russian military controls just 18% of Ukraine’s territory and must resort to embarrassing stunts to keep adding new soldiers to the fight. Moscow, for example, is offering foreign nationals Russian citizenship in exchange for fighting in Ukraine.


But you might have missed this story about the true Russian talent that can still dramatically change the game for Ukraine and its allies. Ukraine's head of cybersecurity told Reuters this week that Russian hackers managed to burrow into Kyivstar, Ukrainian biggest telecoms company, as of May 2023, and knocked 24 million users offline for several days last month. In the process, it also wiped clean thousands of virtual servers and personal computers. The spy chief says the attack was probably the work of Sandworm, a Russian military intelligence cyber warfare unit with a long history of successful strikes.

This story reminds us of two important points: Ukrainian officials continue to make the case in Western media that Russia can do to others what it has done in Ukraine, and Russia still wields formidable, sophisticated unconventional weapons that bolster its struggling conventional forces.

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