News / Europe

    Ukraine Says Communications Hit, MPs Phones Blocked

    Reuters
    Ukraine's telecommunications system has come under attack, with equipment installed in Russian-controlled Crimea used to interfere with the mobile phones of members of parliament, the head of Ukraine's SBU security service said on Tuesday.

    Some Internet and telephone services were severed after Russian forces seized control of airfields and key installations in Ukraine's Crimea region on Friday, but now lawmakers were being targeted, Valentyn Nalivaichenko told a news briefing.

    “I confirm that an ... attack is under way on mobile phones of members of Ukrainian parliament for the second day in row,” the security chief said at a news briefing.

    “At the entrance to [telecoms firm] Ukrtelecom in Crimea, illegally and in violation of all commercial contracts, was installed equipment that blocks my phone as well as the phones of other deputies, regardless of their political affiliation,” he said.

    Ukrtelecom already has said armed men raided its facilities in Crimea on Friday and tampered with fiber optic cables, causing outages of local telephone and Internet systems on the continent.

    • Ukrainian servicemen look on as an armed man, believed to be a Russian soldier, stands guard inside a Ukrainian military base in the Crimean town of Yevpatoria, March 5, 2014.
    • Uniformed men, believed to be Russian servicemen, march outside a Ukrainian military base in the village of Perevalnoye, outside Simferopol, March 5, 2014.
    • Ukrainian Navy soldiers raise their flag on top of the Ukrainian navy corvette Ternopil at the Crimean port of Sevastopol, March 5, 2014.
    • Russian soldiers fire warning shots at the Belbek air base, outside Sevastopol, Ukraine, March 4, 2014.
    • A Russian soldier marches as he and comrades block the Ukrainian infantry base in Perevalne, Ukraine, March 4, 2014.
    • Russian military armored personnel carriers drive from Sevastopol to Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine, March 4, 2014.
    • Ukrainian officers march at the Belbek air base, outside Sevastopol, Ukraine, March 4, 2014.
    • Russian servicemen stand on duty near a map of the Crimea region near the city of Kerch, March 4, 2014.
    • U.S.Secretary of State John Kerry lays roses atop the Shrine of the Fallen in Kyiv, March 4, 2014.
    • A woman passes by Ukrainian recruits receiving military instructions in Kyiv's Independence Square, March 4, 2014.
    • Ukrainian recruits receive instructions from a commander in a recruitment self defense quarter at Kyiv's Independence Square, March 4, 2014.

    The Ukrainian security chief did not say whether the new issues were linked to the earlier raid or a separate tampering incident. Ukrtelecom said it was working on a response to questions from Reuters about Nalivaichenko's remarks.

    Russia's domestic intelligence service, the FSB, declined to comment when asked if Moscow was behind the communications disruptions in Ukraine.

    The main Ukrainian government website www.kmu.gov.ua was offline for about 72 hours after Russian forces seized control of the peninsula, but went back up early on Monday, said John Bumgarner, chief technology officer for the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit.

    Bumgarner, whose firm advises companies and government agencies on how to fend off cyber attacks, said, he is not sure the site went down as a result of a cyber attack. Still, he said he believes Moscow has the ability to cause major disruptions using cyber operations.

    “I know they have the ability to do at least as much damage as they did in Estonia and Georgia,” he said.

    Estonia suffered a 10-day attack on its Internet services in 2007, which caused major disruptions to its financial system, during a spat with Moscow over a Soviet-era war memorial, and Georgia was hit by mass cyber attacks during a brief 2008 war with Russia over its pro-Moscow South Ossetia region.

    Russian authorities denied direct involvement in both attacks, saying they had no influence over the actions of self-styled patriotic hackers.

    Is Russia holding back?

    Much of Ukraine's telecommunications infrastructure was built when it was part of the Soviet Union, along with what is now the Russian Federation, and is particularly vulnerable to penetration by Moscow.

    “The Russians have the place completely wired,” said Jim Lewis, a former U.S. foreign service officer and now senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

    “They are right next door and most traffic has to go through Russia. That they haven't done more probably reflects their confidence that they're going to come out ahead and there's nothing anyone can do about it,” Lewis said.

    Cyber warfare experts say that while Russia certainly has the ability to conduct such campaigns against Ukraine, it has yet to need to use those capabilities.

    “This would show the Russians acting with more discretion and targeting than recently,” said John Bassett, former head of the London and Washington stations of GCHQ, Britain's top secret government communications center.

    “This wouldn't expose any great depth of their technological capability and they would be keeping the harder stuff back,” said Bassett, now associate at Oxford University's Cyber Security Center.

    Marty Martin, a former senior operations officer with the CIA, said Moscow likely would only take action to damage Ukraine's Internet and internal communications systems if hostilities broke out.

    “A lot of times you don't want to shut things down. If you do that, then you don't get your flow of intelligence. You are probably better off monitoring it,” Martin said.

    Experts believe Russia was behind the hacking of a confidential phone conversation between senior U.S. State Department official Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, which was leaked over YouTube last month.

    “Russia's strategy is control the narrative, discredit opponents, and coerce,” said Lewis.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora