If the ongoing tensions between Ukraine and Russia worsen — or possibly break into outright battle early in the new year — Western countries, including Canada, should prepare for more cyber and ransomware attacks.
Experts say Moscow would probably use its extensive cyber and disinformation skills to sow uncertainty and discord among Ukraine’s closest supporters and partners during a crisis, even if it would not authorise direct, attributable strikes against NATO members.
Matthew Schmidt of the University of New Haven in Connecticut stated that “Whether or not Putin moves into Ukraine, I believe they may expect significant cyberattacks just short of Article 5, just short of war.”
Schmidt thinks that because of their Russian-speaking majorities, the Baltic countries, which are NATO members, will be singled out. In Latvia, Canada heads the Western military alliance’s forward presence fighting groups, and it has previously been the target of Russian cyber and misinformation attacks.
The US and its partners are clearly worried about the possibility of Moscow launching cyberattacks against Ukraine. The New York Times stated last week that the United States and the United Kingdom had dispatched cyberwarfare teams to Ukraine to help strengthen its defenses and prevent attacks like the one that knocked out a large chunk of the country’s power infrastructure in 2015.
Former US military leaders have been warning for more than a month, ever since Russia began massing up to 100,000 forces on the Ukrainian border, that destabilising cyberattacks would be the first volley in any battle.
While the Biden administration has ruled out sending soldiers to Ukraine to defend the country, it has stated that it is willing to deploy weaponry and maybe enhance training activities. There are 200 Canadian troops training Ukrainian forces in the finer details of the battle, and Canada’s senior military commander has stated that whether or not they evacuate will be determined by the ground situation at the time.
Military leaders have warned that disrupting such backing and distracting Western leaders during a crisis would be a key strategic goal of the Kremlin.
Source: CBC News