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  • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 10:00 21.02.2019
    INTERPOL issues red notice against businessman Hranovsky under request of Israel

    INTERPOL under a request of judicial agencies of Israel has issued a red notice against Ukrainian businessman Oleksandr Hranovsky (Granovskyi), who has business assets in hospitality, publishing and financial areas.

    According to information on the website of INTERPOL, Hranovsky is charged with obtaining anything by deceit, money laundering, performing a prohibited transaction with property and false entry in documents of a body corporate.

    According to information from Israel's G. Willi-Food International Ltd., Hranovsky and Hryhoriy Hurtovy (Gregory Gurtovoy), former controlling shareholders and officers of the company, transferred from subsidiaries of Willi Food approximately $60 million to foreign banks as pretended foreign deposits, while pledging such funds to secure loans to private foreign companies related to them.

    During January 2016, these persons transferred $3 million from a company controlled by Willi Food, for an investment registered in the company's books as an investment in bonds of a hotel in the Czech Republic, while in fact such investment served as a collateral for repayment of a loan of a company affiliated to Hranovsky and Hurtovy.

    Willi Food said that on January 7, 2019 Hurtovy and Joseph Schneerson (former director of Willi Food Investments Ltd. implicated in the case) signed a plea bargain.

    Hranovsky held a controlling stake in Willi Food via Ukraine's Vertex United Ltd., which provided services in the hotel management sphere. In December 2014, he was appointed a member of the board of directors of Willi Food.

    Vertex United also had assets in investment and development, hospitality, and financial (PJSC Finbank, declared insolvent in April 2017 and liquidated in January 2019) and the media business (Focus magazine).https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/567632.html


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    • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 09:48 21.02.2019
      Russia preparing to attack Ukraine, further escalation to full-scale war looming Poroshenko at UNGA

      Further escalation of Russian aggression against Ukraine to full-scale war is already a reality because of the concentration of a large assault group of Russian military forces on Ukraine's border, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said.

      "Military experts would tell it straight that an armed grouping at the Russian border with Ukraine is offensive strike group personnel. It has nothing to do with defense. They are meant for military strike. This is what the Kremlin is being prepared for. Thus, further escalation to a full-scale war is not an unrealistic prospect," Poroshenko said during debates at the United Nations General Assembly meeting, titled "The Situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine," held in New York City on Wednesday.

      Therefore, there should be a comprehensive, a real-time monitoring of the situation along the Russian border with Ukraine, he said.

      "Back to the figures, I have to underline that the overall number of illegal armed formations stands now at around 35,000 militants, along with 2,100 servicemen from Russian regular armed forces. The total number of the Russian armed forces along the Russian-Ukrainian border is over 87,000 military," he said.

      Poroshenko told the UNGA that in Donbas, Russian armed formations have 496 tanks. "Please know that this number is bigger than that of Germany or France, Spain or Italy," he said. The Russia-led forces also have 938 armored combat vehicles, 128 multiple launch rocket systems, 776 artillery systems (including self-propelled ones).

      "It makes Ukraine a true eastern flank of NATO in defense of trans-Atlantic freedom and democracy," he said.

      He recalled that in 2018 the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Donbas on several occasions took video coverage of convoys of the Russian military hardware, illegally crossing the section of the Ukrainian-Russian border not controlled by the Ukraine authorities.

      Monitors also determined the presence in the occupied territory of the newest Russian systems of radio electronic warfare and radio intelligence as well as electronic UAV jamming systems.

      "These systems have never been in a possession of the Ukrainian armed forces. There is only one country capable to produce and supply them: Russia!" he said.

      "To hide these illegal supplies, the Russian Federation simply blocks the SMM OSCE monitoring activities in the areas, close to the temporarily uncontrolled segment of the state border. The SMM also continues to suffer from huge restrictions on its every day activity in the occupied territory," he added.https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/567630.html




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      • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 01:24 21.02.2019
        Russia-occupied Donbas recognized as most dangerous area for civilians because of land mines Poroshenko

        Russia-occupied Donbas is recognized as the most dangerous area for civilians because of land mines, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said.

        "This area, according to the UN, has already become the most mine-contaminated stretches of land in the world," he said during UN General Assembly debates in New York City on Wednesday, February 20.

        Civilians continue to face serious risks to their safety due to the saturation of land mines and other explosive ordnances in the occupied Donbas, he said.

        According to him, to overcome humanitarian consequences of the Russian military aggression, UN agencies have mobilized more than $460 million over the last five year.

        "We are grateful for the assistance provided by our international partners to millions of people in need," he said.https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/567593.html



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        • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 01:20 21.02.2019
          CEC already registers almost 350 international observers for presidential elections in Ukraine

          The Central Election Commission (CEC) on Wednesday held a regular meeting to register another 41 official observers for presidential elections in Ukraine, which will be held on March 31, 2019, bringing the total number of registered observers from international organizations and foreign countries to 348 people.

          In particular, 12 of the registered official observers represent the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, and another 29 are from the charitable foundation "International Human Rights Commission," the CEC said on Wednesday.

          "Thus, as of February 20, 2019, the Commission registered 348 official observers from international organizations and foreign countries for the next presidential elections in Ukraine on March 31, 2019," the CEC summed up.https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/567591.html

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          • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 01:18 21.02.2019
            Poroshenko suggests sending UN technical assessment mission to Donbas to prepare for introduction of peacekeepers

            The introduction of an UN-mandated multinational peacekeeping mission in Donbas will be a pivotal factor in bringing peace to the region, and Kyiv is willing to discuss this initiative, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said.

            "I am still a strong believer that an UN-mandated multinational peacekeeping operation with a clear objective to end the Russian aggression and restore Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity could be a decisive factor in bringing peace to Donbas," Poroshenko said at the debates in the UN General Assembly addressing the situation on "Ukrainian temporarily occupied territories" in New York City on Wednesday.

            Ukraine is ready for a constructive discussion of this initiative, he said.

            Sending a technical assessment mission to Donbas to work out respective options of the peacekeeping operation would help discuss this initiative, Poroshenko said.

            "And a technical assessment mission which the UN Secretary General could send to Donbas in order to elaborate respective options would definitely assist to this discussion," Poroshenko said.

            For Kyiv it is a matter of principle that any decision on launching a peacekeeping operation in Donbas extends its mandate over the entire territory of Donbas, including the Russian border. The introduction of UN peacekeepers to Donbas should "provide for withdrawal of Russian troops and proxies and their weaponry from our territory," Poroshenko said.

            "It is also important that any peacekeeping operation is based on key UN peacekeeping principles to be impartial, unbiased, and neutral in the first place," he said.
            https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/567590.html

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            • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 01:18 21.02.2019
              Poroshenko accuses Russia of changing military balance in Black Sea region

              Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko spoke of an "unprecedented militarization by Russia of the Black Sea region."

              "Russia changes the strategic balance in the region and well beyond its borders. It turns Crimea into a launch pad for its missiles," Poroshenko said during debates at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.

              "By February 2019, in the occupied Crimea Russia has deployed up to 32,500 military personnel, 88 artillery systems, 52 multiple launch rocket systems, 372 armored combat vehicles, 113 warplanes, 62 combat helicopters, as well as 6 combat ships and 6 submarine ships equipped with the Kalibr sea-launched cruise missiles. One cannot exclude eventual deployment of nuclear weapons in the peninsula," Poroshenko said.https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/567589.html

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              • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 01:16 21.02.2019
                Danyliuk, Abromavicius discuss importance of cooperation with IMF, issue of PrivatBank with Zelensky

                Volodymyr Zelensky, a showman, a candidate for the presidency of Ukraine, has discussed building a liberal economy with former Finance Minister Oleksandr Danyliuk and ex-Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine Aivaras Abromavicius.

                "Building a liberal economy is an important point of our program. We regularly hold meetings with many experts in this field. We've recently talked with Oleksandr Danyliuk and Aivaras Abromavicius," according to a posting on the Facebook page of Zelensky's team (ZeKomanda).

                The photo of the participants in the meeting is posted on the same page.

                Former Finance Minister Danyliuk confirmed the meeting was held. According to him, in addition to economic issues, they spoke "about the end of the war in the east, working with western partners, eliminating the influence of oligarchy and renewing the state apparatus."

                "He noted the following priorities: liquidating the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and reformatting it into counter-intelligence, which is able to effectively fight against Russia's hybrid aggression, reforming the prosecutor's office, creating the Financial Investigations Service to effectively combat financial crimes against the state," Danyliuk said on Facebook.

                Danyliuk also noted the importance of "a thought-out cooperation with Western partners, in particular with the IMF," as well as preventing the curtailment of the VAT reform and transparency of government financing.

                "Of course, I initiated the question of PrivatBank nationalization and relations with Kolomoisky [Ukrainian businessman Ihor Kolomoisky]. And received the answer that he runs for president not to return PrivatBank," the ex-minister said.https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/567587.html


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                • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 01:15 21.02.2019
                  More than quarter of Donbas industrial potential illegally moved to Russia - Poroshenko at UNGA

                  More than a quarter of the industrial potential of Donbas has been moved to Russia, including equipment from large industrial enterprises located in the region, as a result of the conflict in Donbas, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has said, speaking at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

                  "Some 27% of the industrial potential of Donbas was illegally transferred to Russia, including the equipment of 33 local industrial giants," Poroshenko said during debates at the United Nations General Assembly meeting titled "The situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine" held in New York City on Wednesday.

                  At the same time, the president noted that other enterprises located in the occupied part of Donbas cannot fully function due to a lack of professional staff, financial resources and the loss of cooperative ties with other parts of Ukraine.

                  The ecological situation is also worsening in the occupied areas of Donbas, in particular, due to the flooding of coal mines, which creates the risk of groundwater pollution.

                  In addition, Poroshenko said that there is a number of potentially dangerous objects near the line of contact between the parties that, due to regular shelling by illegal armed groups, could become the epicenter of environmental and man-made disasters.

                  "Critical infrastructure facilities, electricity, gas and water supplies, damaged by shelling, require urgent repair," he said.https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/567586.html



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                  • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 16:48 20.02.2019
                    PGO announces opening treason case involving damage to Ukraine's military defense capability

                    The Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office (PGO) has announced opening a criminal case under "high treason" in connection with damaging the military defense capability of the country as a result of actions taken by former officials at Ukraine's Defense Ministry, Member of Parliament (Petro Poroshenko Bloc) Ivan Vinnyk has said.

                    'There was a discussion about whether the actions of previous ministers of defense did not contain elements of a crime that qualifies under Article 111 (high treason). From the letter that the National Security and Defense Committee (NSDC) received from the PGO, we learned that the case is being pursued under Part 1 of Article 111 (high treason)," Vinnyk said at a meeting of the parliament's temporary investigative commission he heads to study information about the facts about plundering Ukraine's Armed Forces and undermining Defense Ministry capabilities during 2004-2017.

                    Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko on February 4, 2019, at a meeting of the commission said actions of the chiefs of the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces and defense ministers from 1991 to 2017 contributed to a decrease in the country's defense capability and could be qualified as acts of treason.https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/567516.html

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                    • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 14:45 20.02.2019
                      U.S. doesn't recognize annexation of Crimea by Russia after five years

                      The United States does not recognize the annexation of the Ukrainian Peninsula Crimea by Russia, the U.S. Embassy to Ukraine has reported.

                      "Five years since the start of Russia's purported annexation of Crimea, Secretary Pompeo's Crimea Declaration remains our clear & unequivocal policy: we do not, and will not, recognize the Kremlin's claims of sovereignty over territory seized by force, in contravention of international law," the embassy said on Facebook.https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/567464.html


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                      • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 11:53 20.02.2019
                        Ukraine commemorates Heavenly Hundred Heroes on Feb 20

                        The Heroes of Heavenly Hundred are remembered in Ukraine on Wednesday, February 20.

                        According to the decree of Ukrainian president dated February 11, 2015 "On honoring the feats of the participants in the Revolution of Dignity and perpetuating the memory of the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred," February 20 is the Day of the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred in the country.

                        Five years ago, in the period of February 18-20, the largest number of Maidan activists died (78 people) in the center of Kyiv. Subsequently, they were called Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred (or simply Heavenly Hundred).

                        The first in the Heavenly Hundred were Maidan activists Serhiy Nigoyan and Mikhail Zhiznevsky, who died on January 22, 2014. On the same day, the body of activist Yuriy Verbytsky was found in the forest.

                        In addition to the Ukrainians, Belarusians, Armenians and Georgians became the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred.

                        President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko posthumously awarded the title Hero of Ukraine to 104 Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred. Three foreigners - a citizen of Belarus Mikhail Zhiznevsky, Georgia - Zurab Khurtsia and David Kipiani - were posthumously awarded orders of the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred.

                        In connection with this memorable date, Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman noted that Ukrainians then demonstrated to the whole world that they are a freedom-loving European people who will "struggle against the dictatorship and are ready to defend their own values against terrible threats."

                        "Crimes like those that occurred on the Maidan five years ago are a warning to all of our society how far in their odious thirst can a corrupt political class go, depending on the Kremlin's instructions. Therefore, only a legal, fair, democratic and European Ukraine with a strong civil society will be a real guarantee that such relapses in our history will not repeat any more," Groysman said in his appeal.

                        According to Groysman, the common duty of the authorities and the people to the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred is to make changes that will bring the country closer to building a just and prosperous European society with citizens equal in their rights.

                        He urged Ukrainians to honor the cherished memory of the Heroes of Heavenly Hundred with a moment of silence.

                        In turn, Secretary of the NSDC of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov said that Heroes became the symbol of the unity of Ukrainian society and its glory.

                        "The heavenly host was replenished by the angels five years ago, when people of all ages, nationalities, and religions had stood shoulder to shoulder for their freedom and dignity, for our country's right to be a full-fledged member of a single European family, a mighty and independent country. The feat of the Heroes of Heavenly Hundred inspired hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians to fight Russian aggression," the NSDC secretary said.

                        "We bow our heads, paying deep respect to all who gave their lives for the freedom of their native land. We must not betray those who have made a courageous step towards self-sacrifice and eternal life!" Turchynov said.https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/567394.html




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                        • Taras Shevchenko art exhibition in Kyiv metro ends after attack by vandal
                          KYIV POST Tetiana Borysova Feb. 19 at 12:38 pm

                          Organizers called off a groundbreaking art exhibition in Kyiv metro on Feb. 16 after a far-right extremist damaged most of the artworks on display at the citys Taras Shevchenko station.

                          The exhibition, entitled Shevchenkos Quantum Leap. Subway, planned to last for a month, closed after only six days. It had consisted of 30 posters of Taras Shevchenko, the legendary Ukrainian poet, and freedom fighter, as iconic musicians, poets, actors, and fictional characters, including David Bowie and Spider-Man.

                          However, two of the posters had been stolen by members of the public after only two days, and the vandalism on Feb. 16 by the far-right extremist was the last straw for the organizers the National Museum of Taras Shevchenko and artist Oleksandr Grekhov.

                          The attacker later identified himself as Yurii Pavlenko, a nationalist and a member of the far right-wing organization, in comments on his Facebook page, in which he claimed that by damaging the posters he was also creating art, which cannot be appreciated by closed minds.

                          Pavlenko, an active participant in far-right rallies, was detained on charges of hooliganism a few years ago after he publicly ripped up a portrait of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Writing on his Facebook page, Pavlenko said people with closed minds had started criminal proceedings against him.

                          Grekhov, the creator of the posters, said their destruction was inexcusable.

                          Its okay not to like or understand something, Grekhov told the Kyiv Post. Personally, I dont like some artistic styles, I dont always understand modern art, but I have never thought about destroying or spoiling something, he said. We were not ready for such serious aggression.

                          Anastasia Aboliesheva, the coordinator of the exhibition, also said she had not expected the exhibition to provoke such a reaction.

                          We were ready for a lack of understanding, criticism, and indignation, Aboliesheva told the Kyiv Post. But we certainly did not expect physical aggression damage to the posters and threats to the safety of passengers or visitors to the exhibition. For that reason, we decided to close the exhibition early.

                          The exhibition was to have run from Feb. 10 to March 10.

                          Two of the posters, one depicting Shevchenko as Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and another as Master Yoda, a character from the Star Wars movie franchise, had been stolen by Feb. 12.
                          https://www.kyivpost.com/lifestyle/t...by-vandal.html


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                          • Vox Populi with Irynka Hromotska: How did Ukraine change in 5 years after EuroMaidan?
                            KYIV POST Irynka Hromotska Feb. 21 at 9:51 pm

                            Oleksandr Frolov
                            movie director
                            Ukraine has definitely changed for the better. We as a nation changed completely, all of us. Someone started to see the country in a different light, someone started to treat people better. Some people are happy with what they already have. However, there is no white or black its all in between.

                            Kateryna Ray
                            TV and radio host, art curator
                            There are both positive and negative moments. People got more opportunities to travel, to develop ideas, they got more financial opportunities for the creative class and for the development of culture. It feels like people finally understood that their voice has the power, but only if its loud and clear enough. People started to be interested in their own heritage and culture. Its like we finally understood why we are a separate nation and now we can clearly explain it to others. On the other side, freedom comes with responsibility. Sadly, I also see a bit of division in society there are people who are willing to change and those who are still living in the old system. Those two groups dont usually get along well. Everything is still too raw and unstructured. So for us, the main goal right now should be to form a strategic plan of how every person can contribute to the development of the country.

                            Artur Gasparyan
                            philology student
                            I think that all of the events on Maidan contributed to unity in society. It seems like people finally understood why we have to belong to one sovereign country, and not be divided for east and west. We became more patriotic, so I believe that the future would be brighter.

                            Yana Kuchmus
                            animation director
                            Im from Crimea, so EuroMaidan events really made an impact on my family. I live in Kyiv and my family is still in Crimea. We usually talk on Skype, but now it is not the same. My family members are too afraid that our Skype calls can be eavesdropped and that fear really affect the sincerity of the conversations and so our relationship. Our family doesnt feel like a close family anymore. From the other side, I feel like society became much more conscious and responsible. I dont measure things in good-or-bad categories. This is the life thats happening and I like it. I think that all of those events that shaped modern Ukraine are healthy. However, I doubt that even the Maidan can change the rooted culture of some people.

                            Yegor Sarahov
                            product designer
                            Maidan was one of the main reasons why we finally saw our future way clearer than before. For years, we had to choose the focus of our development. And now it finally feels like we are on the right track towards modern values.
                            https://www.kyivpost.com/article/opi...uromaidan.html

                            The article was published as a part of the Journalist Exchange Program by Media Development Foundation with the support from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Content is independent of the donor.


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                            • How Ukraine became a test bed for cyberweaponry
                              As Russian hackers face down Western spies, the country has become a live-fire space for hackers.
                              POLITICO Laurens Cerulus 2/20/19, 4:13 AM CET

                              https://g8fip1kplyr33r3krz5b97d1-wpe...-1160x1160.jpg

                              KIEV To see the warfare of the future, head to the top floor of a nondescript office tower on a potholed street on the scruffy outskirts of Ukraine's capital. There, next to a darkened conference room, engineers sit at dark gray monitors, waging war with lines of code.

                              Attacks are happening every day, says Oleh Derevianko, founder of the Ukrainian cybersecurity firm that employs them, Information Systems Security Partners. "We never thought we were going to be the front line of cyber and hybrid war."

                              There may be no better place to witness cyber conflict in action than Ukraine today. Open warfare with Russia, a highly skilled, computer-literate pool of talent and a uniquely vulnerable political, economic and IT environment have made the country the perfect sandbox for those looking to test new cyberweapons, tactics and tools.

                              "Ukraine is live-fire space," says Kenneth Geers, a veteran cybersecurity expert and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who advises NATO's Tallinn cyber center and spent time on the ground in Ukraine to study the countrys cyber conflict. Much like global powers fought proxy wars in the Middle East or Africa during the Cold War, Ukraine has become a battleground in a cyberwar arms race for global influence.

                              Derevianko's outfit works closely with the Ukrainian government and its U.S. and European allies to fend off onslaughts against the countrys networks. On the other side of the virtual front line: Not just sophisticated Russian-affiliated hacker groups like Fancy Bear, Cozy Bear and Sandworm the group behind NotPetya, the most devastating cyberattack to date but also hosts of other governmental, nongovernmental and criminal players testing out their capabilities on the countrys networks.

                              Theyre not only testing destruction but also testing your reflexes" Oleh Derevianko, founder of Information Systems Security Partners

                              Activity has spiked ahead of presidential elections in March, says Derevianko. Since November, hacker groups have been shelling Ukrainian magistrates, government officials, attorneys and others with emails that contain attachments with malware and viruses sometimes disguised as Christmas greetings, or as messages from the prime ministers office in what Derevianko describes as mass phishing.

                              Russian hacker groups are repeatedly attempting to get into the countrys systems, Ukraines national security service told POLITICO. Critical infrastructure and election systems are under constant stress, it said.

                              Theyre not only testing destruction but also testing your reflexes, says Derevianko.

                              Russia's playground

                              The war in eastern Ukraine has given Russian-affiliated hackers the opportunity to perfect their ability to launch cyberattacks with a series of major intrusions in Ukraine over the past few years.

                              The annexation of Crimea and war in Donbas, it has created a volatile political environment," says Merle Maigre, the former head of NATOs cyberdefense center in Tallinn who is now executive vice president at the Estonian cybersecurity firm CybExer.

                              Even as Russian tanks crossed the physical border into eastern Ukraine in the spring of 2014, Russian-affiliated hackers were sending malicious code onto Ukraines IT systems, providing political chaos as a smokescreen.
                              Large-scale attacks followed the next year, and again in 2016. The targets, this time, were companies running Ukraines power grid. In 2015, hackers used so-called BlackEnergy malware, dropped on companies networks using spear phishing attacks that tricked employees into downloading from mock emails. So-called KillDisk malware later destroyed parts of the grid.

                              The resulting blackouts the worlds first known successful cyberattack on an energy company at scale affected about 230,000 Ukrainians for up to six hours. A year later, in December 2016, hackers relied on even more sophisticated tools to successfully turn off the lights in large parts of the Ukrainian capital yet again.
                              But the widest-reaching attack and the worlds most financially damaging to date took place in 2017, when hackers combined code tested in the power grid attacks with malware known as Petya and a security vulnerability initially discovered by the U.S. National Security Agency called EternalBlue.

                              Three days before the presidential election in May 2014, hackers broke into Ukraines Central Election Commission and disabled parts of the network using advanced cyberespionage malware, according to a report by the International Foundation of Electoral Systems funded by the U.S. and U.K. and seen by POLITICO. The Central Election Commission was hit again later that year, when hackers took down its website ahead of a parliamentary vote in October.


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                              • How Ukraine became a test bed for cyberweaponry Pt 2
                                The resulting malware "NotPetya compromised the software of a small tech firm called Linkos Group, providing it access to the computers of utility companies, banks, airports and government agencies in Ukraine. It also crippled multinationals like the Danish shipping giant Maersk, logistics giant FedEx, pharma company Merck and other major corporations.

                                The NotPetya attack which cost an estimated $10 billion to clean up was as close to cyberwar as weve come, says Geers. This was the most damaging attack in history, of a scale and cost that would far exceed a missile fired from the Donbas into Kiev."
                                Cyber sandbox

                                The free-for-all environment of a country at war has turned Ukraine into a magnet for players of all types looking to test their cyber capabilities. In addition to hostile Russian hackers, the country has attracted cybersecurity firms looking to get close to the action, Western intelligence agencies seeking to understand the nature of modern conflict and criminals looking to make a buck.

                                Donbas is basically lit up with malware. Thats intelligence services trying to figure out what Russia is going to do next in Donbas, trying to figure out what [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is up to, says Geers, the Atlantic Councils cybersecurity expert. The U.S., China, Russia, Israel, Turkey, Iran its coming from everywhere.

                                In addition to the ongoing military conflict, Ukraine offers a tempting target because so many of the countrys computers run pirated software, which doesnt receive standard security patches. And, because it is well integrated with Western European internet networks, the country offers a backdoor to hack the rest of Europe.

                                Constant attempted attacks by hacker groups such as Fancy Bear, Cozy Bear and Turla are putting critical infrastructure and election systems under constant stress, Ukraines national security told POLITICO.

                                The goal, say experts, is to test the Wests defenses. The U.S. and other intelligence agencies have responded by moving into the Ukrainian networks to pick up the signals.

                                Getting intelligence ahead of time is important, says Dymtro Shymkiv, the former head of Microsoft in Ukraine and President Petro Poroshenkos chief adviser on cyber between 2014 and 2018. Some of the viruses and malware in the energy blackouts in Ukraine were later found in the U.S. and Israel.

                                Ukrainian authorities, he says, exchange cyber intel for help in fending off the hackers.

                                Whenever we identified malware, we uploaded it to special services where manufacturers of anti-virus could analyze it, says Shymkiv. His cyber team sometimes worked with expert communities on platforms like Hybrid Analysis or ANY.RUN, a technique known as cloud-based sandboxing, where researchers can access the data and get in touch with those affected by malware, he says.

                                "U.S. counterparts, they are requesting a lot of information and interacting very productively" Roman Boyarchuk, head of Ukraines State Cyber Protection Center

                                Washington has invested heavily in cyber resilience in Ukraine since 2014. USAID alone freed up a pot of $10 million (8.9 million) for cybersecurity defenses, and a sizeable part of its much larger budget to support Ukraine goes to securing IT systems in the country.

                                U.S. companies, such as tech giant Microsoft, have also beefed up their presence in the country. Hardware leader Cisco has a strong foothold that includes its renowned cyberintelligence unit Talos. And U.S. cyber firm CrowdStrike, known for bullishly calling out state-sponsored hacks, is also active in the country, as are many others.

                                The U.S. and Europe are also investing in seminars and training for Ukrainian cybersecurity staff, and are involved in day-to-day assistance via the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), an international organization backed by democracies worldwide to help out with holding elections, and other channels.

                                "U.S. counterparts, they are requesting a lot of information and interacting very productively," says Roman Boyarchuk, the head of Ukraines State Cyber Protection Center, the authority tasked with fending off attackers from government networks. American and European cybersecurity authorities regularly ask for more details about his agencys analysis of major threats, he says.

                                Activity has increased ahead of Ukraines national election in March, experts say, as smaller groups and individual hackers and criminals look for financial gain.

                                "They're scanning the networks and sending a lot of malware in order to find the breaches, the vulnerabilities, says Boyarchuck, of the national cyber emergency team. They are taking control, recording this control, putting it into databases and selling it.

                                The hackers then find buyers for these credentials or access into confidential networks. Large data sets are sold on dark web marketplaces to anyone willing to pay the price.

                                "Everyone is buying it," says Boyarchuk. "Corporate competitors, state actors, anybody."
                                Fears of contagion

                                For Kievs cyber helpers, the goal is not just to help out a developing country under pressure. As Ukraine becomes ever more integrated with the West, theres a strong fear of contagion. A successful cyberattack in Kiev, they fear, can easily slip the countrys borders and infect computers across the globe.

                                Thats become especially true following Ukraine's shift toward the West, which triggered Russias aggression. The countrys 2014 Association Agreement with the EU came with a "deep and comprehensive free-trade agreement" in place since 2016 that has strengthened economic ties. And with the increase in trade has come added data flows and interactions in its internet networks.

                                The 2017 NotPetya attack was a painful example of the risks that come with this kind of entanglement: An attack starting in a small tech firm in Ukraine spread to companies and government agencies across the world, grinding the business of international heavy-hitters to a halt.

                                "We provided them with political support, we've supported Ukraine in providing guns and ammo. Now we're moving to cyber" Edvinas Kerza, Lithuania's vice minister of national defense

                                NotPetya "was when everybody realized how vulnerable we are when Ukraine gets hit," says Maigre, the former head of NATOs cyberdefense center. "It easily blows over to Europe and beyond."

                                For the EU, in particular, the attack underlined the urgency of beefing up Ukraines cyberdefenses.

                                Since then, European countries have set up bilateral assistance deals. Estonia, for example, is heavily involved in helping Ukrainian authorities set up a secure electoral IT system. Lithuania is also active, according to Edvinas Kerza, the country's vice minister of national defense.

                                "We provided them with political support, we've supported Ukraine in providing guns and ammo," says Kerza. "Now we're moving to cyber."

                                The EU's eye is now on securing the upcoming presidential election at the end of March.

                                We strongly expect Russia will try to influence the course of Ukraines presidential and parliamentary elections in 2019, Ukraines security service said in an email, adding that the greatest threat comes from special services launching purposeful, long-term cyberattacks with state interests in mind.

                                Above all, the March vote could provide valuable insight for the EU, as it braces for cyberattacks on its European election at the end of May. That vote in which voters in 27 countries will choose a new European Parliament and by extension decide who sits at the helm of the EUs top institutions is uniquely vulnerable to interference.

                                What happens in Kiev today could easily happen in Berlin, Rome or Amsterdam tomorrow, experts say. Ukraine "is sort of like a litmus test," says Maigre. The stream of phishing emails, the data sold on the dark web, the new types of malware all of it can popup west of Ukraine at any time. "That's why it is interesting to see how it all plays out in the elections," she says.https://www.politico.eu/article/ukra...lware-attacks/






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                                Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp

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