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Ukraine: Russia Just Made the First Move in New 'Hybrid War'

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Ukraine is framing a cyberattack that ravaged its government websites last week as Russia’s first volley against the former Soviet Union territory.

For weeks, Russia has been building up troops along its borders with Ukraine in what analysts have speculated could be an attack that might begin this month.

On Sunday, Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Development said Russia is threatening it on land and cyberspace.

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“All evidence indicates that Russia is behind the cyberattack. Moscow continues to wage a hybrid war and is actively building up its forces in the information and cyberspaces,” the ministry statement said, according to CNBC.

Microsoft said Saturday that in tandem with the Thursday attacks that defaced Ukrainian government websites, computer systems at Ukrainian government agencies were infected with malware.

Microsoft said the cyberattacks “span multiple government, non-profit and information technology organizations.”

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A message left by the hackers who defaced government websites warned Ukraine to “be afraid and expect the worst.”

The cyberattack comes as Russia has what The New York Times estimates as 100,000 troops on three sides of Ukraine, poised to invade when the command is given.

Within the Department of Defense, “five or six different options” for the extent of a Russian invasion are being examined, the Times quoted what it called “one senior official” it did not name.

Russian media has been airing claims of Ukrainian preparations to attack Russia, the Times reported, raising the possibility of a provocation being staged that could then justify a Russian invasion.

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Yevgeny Buzhinsky, a retired lieutenant general and a TV commentator, said Russia will copy American tactics to cripple Ukraine.

“There will be no columns of tanks,” he said. “They will just destroy all the Ukrainian infrastructure from the air, just like you do it.”

Some commentators fear that Russia is looking to do more than just gobble up one section of Ukraine — the Donbas region in the eastern part of Ukraine — that has long defied the central government in Kyiv.

“The Russian leadership is rather inventive,” said Andrey Kortunov, director-general of the Russian International Affairs Council. “It’s not necessarily only about Ukraine.”

Dmitry Suslov, an analyst in Moscow, said Russian leader Vladimir Putin has bigger fish to fry than that part of Ukraine, or even taking more than a small piece.

“A hypothetical Russian invasion of Ukraine would not undermine the security of the United States,” he said. “The overall logic of Russian actions is that it is the U.S. and NATO that must pay a high price.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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