When you have to explain or disclaim it, you’re not being sarcastic. “Only a DDoS attack” might be a major problem but it’s not the kind of attack that might precede a major military ground attack… yet. An electronic attack on all major infrastructure might be the greater sign that the now more unlikely Russian invasion has begun. Look for an attack on the Ukraine power grid.
The war between Russia and Ukraine was supposed to start today, or maybe it was yesterday. Actually, the Ukrainian leader says Wednesday.
Or does he?
Monday afternoon, American news outlets startled markets when they reported that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video, “We are told that February 16 will be the day of the attack.” His spokesperson later clarified that he had been merely referencing other public media reports, and many journalists noted that Zelensky, a former comedian, was being sarcastic.
The mid-afternoon misunderstanding was the messiest episode in a string of frantic forecasts and much quieter walk-backs, as American and European officials try to surmise the next steps in a possible war — a war that may or may not happen.
Russia has gathered some 130,000 troops on the border with Ukraine and demanded certain concessions from the West to deescalate. Moscow has denied intentions to invade, but diplomatic talks between Russia and the United States and its allies — including a phone call Saturday between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin — have not yet yielded any solutions. Against this backdrop, the world is reading between every line along the way.
Ukraine tension continues, waiting for a withdrawal, Biden: "plenty of room for diplomacy"
In a speech at the White House, Biden said to Russian citizens that the US and its allies are not a threat to them and that there's "plenty" of room for diplomacy with Russia to avoid a conflict in Europe.
"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 said.
The President told Russians he did not believe they wanted "a bloody destructive war against Ukraine, a country and the people with whom you share such deep ties of family history and culture."
He harkened back to World War II, pointing out that Americans and Russians had "fought and sacrificed side by side in the worst war in history."
"World War II was a war of necessity, but if Russia attacks Ukraine, it would be a war of choice -- a war without cause or reason," he said, adding that he was not trying to "provoke," but instead wanted to "speak the truth."
A huge distributed denial of service attack has taken down Ukrainian defense military websites and at least two of the nation's biggest banks on Tuesday.
Ukraine's Ministry of Defense website is still down at time of publication, although it reports "Technical works on restoration of regular functioning," are on the way after it was "probably attacked by DDoS: an excessive number of requests per second was recorded." Other military sites are also apparently suffering problems.
In what appears to have been a coordinated attack, Ukraine's biggest commercial banking operation PrivatBank and big-three financial institution Oschadbank were also hit around the same time, knocking out some online transactions and ATMs across the nation. Oschadbank is now back up and running, albeit in a limited way, but PrivatBank's website is still down for the moment.
"As of 1930h, the work of banking web resources has been resumed.," said the Ukraine government's Centre for Strategic Communications on Facebook. "PrivatBank has suffered a DDoS attack. For one hour during the attack, some services (ATM, TSO) were not working. Starting at 1630 these services have been restored."
"Oshchadbank also suffered a Ddos attack. Work is currently underway to restore the system. She is already working in stable mode. There is only a slow entry to the Oshchad24/7 system due to an additional load on the communication channels."
While such attacks are of limited immediate effect, the events will set off a Chinese military parade of red flags in the mind of security engineers. DDoS attacks are frequently used as a distraction (or maskirovka in Russian) for more advanced intrusion techniques to be carried out or tested, and these are high-profile targets.
Incidentally, Russian state-media org Tass reports Russia is pulling back some troops from the border after "scheduled drills."
And Fox News continues to pay back for the First Trump Impeachment, as the war’s outcome remains focused on economic matters like energy policy.
Tucker Carlson claims Ukraine's democratically-elected president is a dictator and again asks why the US isn't on Russia's side…
In the basement of an abandoned eastern Ukrainian house — converted into a military headquarters — Oleksander showed off his “command center.” He insisted that no photo or video cameras enter this space, the heart of his battalion’s operation.
He pointed to a row of three desks labeled with acronyms from the Latin alphabet. First was the spot for “S2,” or reconnaissance. Next was “ADA,” or air defense artillery. Then “FSO” for the fire support officer.
“It’s simple, like in the United States,” Oleksander said.
At another desk across the room, miniature Ukrainian and U.S. flags were posted beside each other in a V shape. Upstairs, one room was labeled “S1” to denote a sort of administration office. Kyiv’s push to reform its army starts with the small details, such as the adoption of U.S. military jargon.
“One step closer to NATO,” Oleksander said, then added: “I hope.”
Geopolitical tensions intensified over the weekend as a call between President Biden and Vladimir Putin didn't lead to any diplomacy breakthrough regarding Ukraine. Per the White House, President Biden reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. President Biden made clear that the United States would respond swiftly and decisively, together with its allies and partners, to any further Russian aggression against Ukraine. In a statement, the G7 Finance Ministers shared "the ongoing Russian military build-up at Ukraine's borders is a cause for grave concern. We, the G7 Finance Ministers, underline our readiness to act swiftly and decisively to support the Ukrainian economy, while also supporting the ongoing efforts to urgently identify a diplomatic path towards de-escalation.”
At a White House briefing, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan shared a Russian invasion of Ukraine could start "this week" with airstrikes, but he is still hoping for a diplomatic resolution. Over the weekend, Kyiv warned Russia already started a "hybrid war," which includes cyberattacks, economic pressure, and false bomb threats, and might seek a pretext to send its army deeper into Ukraine.
That escalating uncertainty is weighing on global equities this morning but also juicing energy prices. European gas prices soared as much as 14% while crude oil continued its climb toward $100 per barrel. With scant corporate earnings and economic data coming today, geopolitical tensions will be the primary driver of trading as investors wait for tomorrow’s January Producer Price Index (PPI). Following last week’s hotter than expected January Consumer Price Index, the PPI report has come into focus as investors will use it to gauge how quickly the Federal Reserve could boost interest rates in the coming year. Weekend comments by San Francisco Federal Reserve President Mary Daly reiterated the view that it’s critical for the Fed to be measured and data-dependent as it starts lifting U.S. interest rates lest the Fed risk destabilizing the growth and price stability it is trying to achieve. To us, this means closely listening to what the Fed heads have to say after the January PPI report to detect any near-term shift in the Fed’s thinking.