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One of Ukraine’s top cyber officials said some cyber attacks on Ukraine’s critical and civilian infrastructure could amount to war crimes.

Viktor Zhora, chief digital transformation officer of Ukraine’s State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection (SSSCIP), argued that Russia launched cyberattacks in coordination with dynamic military strikes as part of its invasion of Ukraine. Digital warfare is part of what Kyiv considers war crimes committed against its citizens.

“When we observe the situation in cyberspace we see some coordination between kinetic strikes and cyber attacks, and since most kinetic attacks are conducted against civilians – being a direct act of a war crime – instrumental in cyber The actions could be considered war crimes,” Zora told POLITICO in an interview.

Zhora said Ukrainian authorities are gathering evidence of cyberattacks linked to military operations and sharing the information with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, in an effort to support possible prosecutions over Russia’s actions.

It would be the first to classify Russia’s digital attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure as part of war crimes. academician and researcher construction Case To that end, since the beginning of this year, the prosecutor’s office at the ICC has been asking to add cyberattacks to its investigation into the war in Ukraine.

Zhora, who leads cyber security operations at SSSCIP, Ukraine’s communications security authority, pointed to Russia’s attacks last July on DTEK, Ukraine’s largest private energy investor, as an example: “Their thermal power plant was shelledAnd also, they had a corporate network attacked, This is a directed and planned activity on the part of the Russians, both in the traditional domain and in the cyber domain.

Zhora has observed similar coordinated activity in Odessa, Lviv and Mykolaiv, where shelling supported with ” [cyber] Attacks on local authorities, websites, or local internet service providers,” he said. These attacks have a “direct impact” by disrupting data services, IT infrastructure, power grids, telecommunications and critical infrastructure, he said, adding that Ukrainian citizens “depend on the availability of these resources.”

Viktor Zhora argued that because most military attacks target civilians, cyberattacks carried out in coordination could be considered war crimes Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images

Russian state-backed groups have targeted Ukrainian infrastructure and tried to disrupt efforts by allies in Europe and the West to support Kyiv in the war. NATO officials have also indicated that cyberattacks could “spread” to NATO countries, potentially escalating the conflict.

About the war in the digital space, Zhora said, Moscow is not connected only with cyber attacks. Russia has launched efforts to sow panic through propaganda and disinformation, as well as attempts to penetrate networks and extract data that it can use to identify and target those most likely to be involved in its military offensive. There may be a danger to

Zhora said, “Russian troops often use filtration procedures on occupied territories to identify people who support Ukraine, who were engaged in public service or military service, so they capture them, then torture them.” Yes, kill.

The Ukrainian official said it was time the international community debated the impact of these attacks – cyber, disinformation and digital targeting – and how to respond. “We are discussing completely new terms and ideas on how to classify these attacks, which happened during the war, which have never happened before.”

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