Negotiations between the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers began in Turkey yesterday, but without much result.
Prebunking an information operation.
Western intelligence services, particularly in the US and UK, have been unusually open and forthcoming in their discussion of Russian actions against Ukraine. Much of that openness has been devoted to what some journalists have called "prebunking," hitting the credibility of disinformation before it's found its legs and gained traction. Yesterday's warning by the White House that Russia may be planning to use chemical weapons seems to be another case of prebunking a building provocation the Kremlin may be preparing. Russian sources have claimed that Ukraine (probably with American assistance) has been preparing biological weapons, and those claims have been seconded and amplified by Chinese media.
Western sources see this as an incipient provocation. The Atlantic Council describes the early stages of an information operation, as the Russian Foreign Ministry claims that Ukraine had intended to use the nuclear plants at Chernobyl and Zaporizhia for "nuclear provocations." That same Ministry "confirmed" that it had proof that Ukraine, with US support, had tried to destroy evidence of Ukraine's ongoing biological warfare program.
White House Press Secretary Psaki tweeted a US response to Russian allegations, denying that any such biological or chemical weapons programs existed, and pointing out Russia's use of its Novichok nerve agent in the attempted assassination of a GRU defector and its support of the Assad regime's use of chemical agents against internal enemies in Syria. She also noted that the disinformation fits Moscow's style of provocation: "Also, Russia has a track record of accusing the West of the very violations that Russia itself is perpetrating. In December, Russia falsely accused the U.S. of deploying contractors with chemical weapons in Ukraine."
The current state of the cyber phases of a hybrid war.
Fox News, citing sources in the US Intelligence Community, reports that cyberattacks against US companies active in the liquified natural gas (LNG) sector conducted two weeks before the invasion of Ukraine may have been battlespace preparation. CISA, the report says, is presently working to confirm that this is indeed what the attacks represented. Researchers at Resecurity had earlier made a similar claim.
Chinese cyberespionage operations have lately taken a close interest in European foreign ministries and aid organizations working to bring assistance to Ukraine. There are signs that this activity may be coordinated with Russia's campaign. Google researchers identify three state actors particularly engaged in collecting against Ukraine and governments sympathetic to Kyiv: Fancy Bear (Russia's GRU), Ghostwriter (a Belarusian outfit), and Mustang Panda (a Chinese operator).
Google also notes that nuisance-level distributed denial-of-service attacks have continued to affect Ukrainian government sites.
Hacktivists who identify themselves with the Anonymous collective, and who've taken up Ukraine's cause, are tweeting, Security Affairs reports, about various website defacements and text campaigns they're operating in the hope of degrading Russian morals. HS Today writes that Anonymous claims to now control over four-hundred Russian camera feeds. It's using the compromised feeds to distribute "anti-propaganda to open the eyes of Russian civilians."
The CyberWire's continuing coverage of the unfolding crisis in Ukraine may be found here.