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Ukraine Security Chief Calls for Better Cyber Defense Against Russia

Secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council Oleksander Turchynov (L) is seen with Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko at a session of the council in Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 11, 2016.

A Ukrainian security chief said on Wednesday Ukraine needed to beef up its cyber defenses, citing a recent spate of attacks on government websites that he said originated in Russia.

Over the past week, Ukraine's Finance and Defense ministries and State Treasury said their websites had been temporarily downed by attacks aimed at disrupting their operations.

"These attacks were planned in advance and coordinated from a center based in the Russian Federation," the secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, Oleksander Turchynov, said.

At the end of 2015, the council blamed Russia for a cyberattack on its power grid that left part of western Ukraine temporarily without electricity.

Cyber security experts consider Russia one of the world's most advanced cyber powers, along with the United States, China, Israel, France and Britain.

Bratislava-based computer security company ESET said it believed the recent attacks on the ministries were attempted "cybersabotage" and likely carried out by the same group that targeted Ukraine's power grid last year.

Relations between Kyiv and the Kremlin collapsed in 2014 following Moscow's annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, where fighting continues despite a cease-fire agreement.

As a result of the recent cyberattacks, Ukraine's security council will discuss how best to strengthen cyber security, particularly in relation to potential actions from Russia, Turchynov said.

"A decision will be taken detailing a plan of action to increase the level of cyber defense," he said.