Ukraine faces hack attack, government websites down

A number of government websites in Ukraine were down on Friday after a massive hacking attack, Ukrainian officials said.

While it was not immediately clear who was behind the attacks, they come amid heightened tensions with Russia and after talks between Moscow and the West failed to make any significant progress this week.

“As a result of a massive hacking attack, the websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a number of other government agencies are temporarily down. Our specialists are already restoring the work of IT systems,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko wrote on Facebook on Friday.

Nikolenko told The Associated Press it was too early to say who was behind the attacks. “It is too early to draw conclusions as the investigation is still ongoing, but there is a long history of Russian cyber attacks on Ukraine in the past,” he said.

Moscow had previously denied involvement in cyber attacks on Ukraine.

Websites of the cabinet, seven ministries, the Treasury, the National Emergency Service and the state website, where Ukrainians’ electronic passports and vaccination certificates are stored, were unavailable on Friday as a result of the hack.

The websites contain a message in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish stating that Ukrainians’ personal data has been leaked into the public domain. “Be afraid and expect the worst. This is for your past, present and future,” the message read in part.

The Ukrainian State Service for Communications and Information Protection has said no personal data has been leaked.

The US estimates that Russia has amassed about 100,000 troops near Ukraine, an accumulation that has fueled fears of invasion. Moscow says it has no plans to attack and rejects Washington’s demand to withdraw its troops, saying it has the right to deploy them where necessary.

The Kremlin has demanded security guarantees from the West to prevent NATO expansion eastward.

Last month, Moscow submitted draft security documents demanding that NATO deny membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet countries and reverse the alliance’s military deployment in Central and Eastern Europe. Washington and its allies have declined to make such commitments, but said they are ready for talks.

Spicy talks this week between Moscow and the US, followed by a meeting of representatives from Russia and NATO and a meeting at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, have yielded no immediate progress.

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