Websites of some of Ukraine’s government ministries appeared to be affected by a new round of cyberattacks Wednesday as the US reportedly warned Kyiv that a full-scale Russian invasion could begin within the next 48 hours.
Mykhailo Fedorov, head of Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation, revealed via Telegram that several government websites had been hit by a massive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack at around 4 p.m. local time.
Federov added that the attack had impacted some banks, but did not reveal further details.
The websites of Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry, Cabinet of Ministers, and Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) appeared offline when viewed by The Post at around 6:30 p.m. Kyiv time. The websites of the defense and interior ministry, which controls the police, were also subjected to interruptions or delays.
Responsibility for the attack has not been determined, but US and Western officials have warned that such hacks by Russian-backed actors could be a prelude to invasion.
Newsweek, citing a US intelligence official with direct knowledge of the situation, reported that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “has been warned Russia will highly likely begin an invasion within 48 hours based on US intelligence.”
“Additionally,” the official said, “reporting from aircraft observers indicates Russia violated Ukrainian airspace earlier today, flying possible reconnaissance aircraft for a short period over Ukraine.”
A source close to Zelensky told the outlet that the Ukrainian president had received the assessment and warning, but noted that it was unclear if the threat of an invasion was more serious than before.
If Moscow invades Ukraine in the coming days, the Pentagon anticipates it will include airstrikes, cruise missiles and a ground invasion, the US intelligence official said.
A second US official confirmed the assessment, adding that the invasion will involve attacks from pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donbas region as well as from regulars based in Belarus, where Moscow recently extended joint military exercises. Those forces are expected to push towards the capital of Kyiv, about a three-hour drive from the Belarus border.
Earlier this month, Zelensky declared a “Day of Unity” in Ukraine for Feb. 16, when he said he had been “told” Russia would invade.
“On this day, we will hoist national flags everywhere, and wear blue and yellow ribbons to show the entire world our unity,” he said at the time.
Russia forces did not invade Ukraine on Feb. 16, and Ukraine did not see increased military action on its soil until Feb. 17, when stepped-up shelling in Donbas began.
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to The Post’s inquiry about whether a Russian invasion within 48 hours is anticipated.
The latest assessment comes just two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the self-declared pro-Russia Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) as independent states and dispatched “peacekeeping” forces to the region.
On Tuesday, President Biden said the Russian action represented the “beginning” of an invasion of Ukraine.
“Russia’s long-previewed invasion of Ukraine has begun and so has our response,” Deputy National Security Advisor Daleep Singh told reporters during a White House press briefing.
“Let me be totally clear: No Russian financial institution is safe if the invasion proceeds,” Singh added. “We are ready to press a button to take action on the two largest Russian financial institutions, which collectively hold almost $750 billion in assets or more than half of the total in the Russian banking system.”
Western nations, including the US and UK, have begun to impose sanctions against Russia in response to Putin’s latest moves.