Ukraine’s fate is still uncertain as the U.S. and NATO say Russia continues to build up troops on Ukraine’s northern, southern and eastern borders, not withdraw them. The country also faced multiple cyberattacks Tuesday.
In a speech also on Tuesday, U.S. President Joe Biden addressed the citizens of Russia: “The United States and NATO are not a threat to Russia. Ukraine is not a threat to Russia. Neither the US nor NATO have missiles in Ukraine. We do not — do not — have plans to put them there, as well. We’re not targeting the people of Russia. We do not seek to destabilize Russia. To the citizens of Russia: you are not our enemy.”
Biden’s remarks come as the U.S. and Europe continue to try to bring Russia to the negotiating table to prevent what seems like an imminent invasion of Ukraine.
Biden warned, “If Russia attacks Ukraine, it will be met with overwhelming international condemnation. The world will not forget that Russia chose needless death and destruction.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has long demanded the West keep Ukraine and other former Soviet nations out of the NATO alliance, halt weapons deployment near Russian borders and roll back forces from Eastern Europe.
When asked at a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz if there could be war in Europe, Putin stated Russia doesn’t want it, but Ukraine’s bid to join NATO posed a major security threat to the country.
“They are telling us it won’t happen tomorrow,” he said. “Well, when will it happen? The day after tomorrow? What does it change for us in the historic perspective? Nothing.”
On Tuesday, Scholz met with Putin in Moscow in a diplomatic attempt to avert a Russian invasion of Ukraine. “The diplomatic possibilities are far from being exhausted,” Scholz said at a joint news conference.
Scholz, who has drawn criticism at home and abroad for mixed signals on Ukraine and not speaking out against Russia, also said while NATO and the European Union did not agree with Russia’s demands, there were some points worth discussing.
While the two leaders met in Moscow and the Russian defense ministry published footage to demonstrate it was pulling some troops back to bases after exercises, Ukraine faced a series of cyber attacks on its defense, foreign and culture ministries and two largest state banks. Their websites were overwhelmed in what is called a distributed denial-of-service. The maneuver works when hackers flood a network with unusually high volumes of data traffic to paralyze it.
Victor Zhora, a top Ukrainian cyber defense official said that there was no information of other disruptive actions which could be hidden behind the DDoS attacks. Emergency response teams were working to cut off the attackers and recover services, he added.
Though it’s too early to say who was behind the attack, the ministry statement pointed to Russian involvement. “It is possible that the aggressor resorted to tactics of petty mischief, because the aggressive plans aren’t working overall,” the Ukrainian statement said.
Ukraine has suffered numerous cyberattacks since 2014, including power grid knockouts during the winters of 2015 and 2016 and targeted attacks on companies doing business with Ukraine with the NotPetya virus. Tuesday’s cyberattack is considered to be one of the most devastating, costing around $10 billion in damages. The attacks are attributed to Russia’s military intelligence agency GRU.