Within hours of agreeing to cease-fires late last week that would have permitted civilians to evacuate areas of active fighting, Russian forces resumed shelling the evacuation routes they'd agreed to protect. The attacks have been particularly severe and indiscriminate around the southern port city of Mariupol, where Ukrainian resistance continues. Russia today declared new humanitarian cease-fires in areas with heavy refugee traffic, but it seems unlikely that these will be any more reliable than the earlier guarantees.
Russian influence operations fail as few support Russia's war of aggression.
The "de-militarization and de-nazification" of Ukraine remain Russia's non-negotiable war aims. In a call with Turkey's President Erdogan, President Putin said that suspension of hostilities would only be possible "if Kyiv stops military operations and carries out well-known Russian demands." Russia would negotiate, Mr. Putin said, but it would not stand for protracted negotiations designed simply to draw the fighting out.
The Daily Beast has an account of how the Russian line is playing out over state media. Essentially, "Nazi" has become a very expansive and inclusive term. NATO? Nazis. The EU? Nazis. The German government? Nazis. The US? Both Republicans and Democrats are Nazis. And so on. The war is a defensive one, forced on Russia by "NATO's [Nazi] fist." Demonstrations around the world this Sunday ran strongly against Russia, the Washington Post reports, with governments disputing Russian government propaganda in social media.
The one front on which Russian disinformation may be enjoying some traction is the home front. The New York Times reports that Ukrainians are finding that some of their Russian relatives are buying into the Kremlin's line that it's not really a war, but a defensive operation with fundamentally humanitarian aims. Russophone Ukrainians have not, generally speaking, greeted the Russian army as liberators and rescuers (some of the bitterest resistance has been in the largely Russian city of Kharkiv) and the Telegram believes that this reception surprised President Putin, who'd counted on the support of ethnic Russians.
Ukraine will become a "contributing participant" in NATO's CCDCOE.
The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) announced Friday that Ukraine will become a "contributing participant" in the CCDCOE. The twenty-seven members of the CCDCOE voted unanimously to extend membership, which Ukraine has accepted. Participation in the CCDCOE isn't necessarily restricted to NATO members—Austria, Finland, and Ireland are members who don't belong to the Atlantic Alliance—and participation doesn't constitute NATO membership.
Ukrainian cyberattacks, and the marshaling of hacktivists.
Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, relatively easy to mount, lend themselves to the sort of hacktivism that's surged with sympathy for Ukraine. BleepingComputer reports that Russia's National Coordination Center for Computer Incidents (NKTsKI), a service established by the FSB, has distributed a list of 17,576 IP addresses said to be used in the DDoS campaign and a second list of referring domains involved in the operation. The NKTsKI also recommended measures organizations should take to defend themselves.
In some respects the hacktivist enthusiasm represents, WIRED says, "pandemonium." The New York Times, while reporting that Ukraine has been deliberate and intentional in its recruitment of hackers, quotes Matt Olney, director of threat intelligence at Cisco Talos: “It is crazy, it is bonkers, it is unprecedented. This is not going to be solely a conflict among nations. There are going to be participants that are not under the strict control of any government.”
Russian cyberattacks have been surprisingly limited since the outbreak of President Putin's war against Ukraine, but they haven't been absent. Ukraine's State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection (SSSCIP) tweeted Saturday, "Russian hackers keep on attacking Ukrainian information resources nonstop.... Despite all the involved enemy’s resources, the sites of the central governmental bodies are available. The only thing the occupants managed to do was to substitute the front pages at the sites of some local authorities."
The CyberWire's continuing coverage of the unfolding crisis in Ukraine may be found here.