With Russian forces pounding Ukraine by air, land and sea in its unjustified invasion of the neighboring country, closing in on the capital city of Kyiv, the seriously outmatched Ukrainian military is reportedly putting up stiffer resistance than Russian President Vladimir Putin may have expected.
The world has widely condemned the unprovoked attack with United States President Joe Biden and Western leaders initiating sanctions in an attempt to isolate Putin and the Russian economy — Biden has yet to initiate the most severe sanctions at his disposal, including targeting oil and gas flows and cutting Russia off from the SWIFT banking system — and it appears they have an unlikely ally in the fight.
The international hacking collective known as Anonymous took to social media to effectively declare war on Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine.
“[Anonymous] is currently involved in operations against the Russian Federation. Our operations are targeting the Russian government. There is an inevitability that the private sector will most likely be affected too,” read a tweet from the group with a history of launching cyberattacks against governments and corporations. “While this account cannot claim to speak for the whole of the Anonymous collective, we can in fact report the truths of Anonymous’ collective actions against the Russian Federation. We want the Russian people to understand that we know it’s hard for them to speak out against their dictator for fear of reprisals.”
of the Anonymous collective, we can in fact report the truths of Anonymous’ collective actions against the Russian Federation. We want the Russian people to understand that we know it’s hard for them to speak out against their dictator for fear of reprisals. (cont)
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) February 24, 2022
Explaining that any interruption to internet access that may occur is directed at Moscow, Anonymous called on the Russian people “to stand together and say ‘NO’ to Vladimir Putin’s war.”
“We, as a collective want only peace in the world. We want a future for all of humanity. So, while people around the globe smash your internet providers to bits, understand that it’s entirely directed at the actions of the Russian government and Putin,” the statement continued. “Put yourselves in the shoes of the Ukrainians being bombed right now. Together we can change the world, we can stand up against anything. It is time for the Russian people to stand together and say “NO” to Vladimir Putin’s war. We are Anonymous. We are Legion. Expect us.”
Put yourselves in the shoes of the Ukrainians being bombed right now. Together we can change the world, we can stand up against anything. It is time for the Russian people to stand together and say “NO” to Vladimir Putin’s war.
We are Anonymous.
We are Legion
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) February 24, 2022
The Russian government-funded media outlet RT.com, which the State Department describes as a critical element in “Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem,” said it was targeted in what appears to be a widespread denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, according to Fox News — a DDoS attack is a coordinated effort that floods a website with traffic, causing the site to crash.
Fox News also reported that websites for the Kremlin and State Duma lower house of parliament were intermittently unavailable on Thursday, possibly due to DDoS attacks.
In a related matter, the U.S. government is reportedly bracing for Putin to engage in possible cyberattacks on U.S. financial institutions.
There have been signs of internal protests in Russia, along with reports of large crowds taking to the streets on Moscow and St. Petersburg, among other cities. Russian authorities have been quick to crack down on the war protests.
A view of the protest in central Moscow this evening. Thousands across the country are risking serious repercussions to protest Putin’s attack on Ukraine. More than 850 people detained so far. pic.twitter.com/KHog0Acbir
— Matthew Luxmoore (@mjluxmoore) February 24, 2022
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) February 24, 2022
“In Moscow and other cities, they moved swiftly to crack down on critical voices,” the Associated Press reported. “OVD-Info, a rights group that tracks political arrests, reported that 1,745 people in 54 cities had been detained by Thursday evening, at least 957 of them in Moscow.”
The news agency said Russia’s Investigative Committee warned Russians Thursday afternoon that unauthorized protests are against the law.
“This is the most shameful and terrible day in my life. I even was not able to go to work. My country is an aggressor. I hate Putin. What else should be done to make people open their eyes?” one protester in St. Petersburg told the AP.
Russia’s interior ministry cited “coronavirus restrictions” in a television broadcast as the reason for the crackdown:
Russia’s interior ministry tells TV viewers to “refrain from unsanctioned protests” & or they’ll be “arrested & brought to responsibility.”
That’s because there are “coronavirus restrictions, including on public events.”
Not because of calls to protest the war or anything pic.twitter.com/fuKDsso2eQ
— Alec Luhn (@ASLuhn) February 24, 2022
With Putin threatening “such consequences that you have never encountered in your history” to nations that interfere with his military campaign in Ukraine, concerns over the conflict escalating into a world war grow.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed that America would uphold its commitment to NATO’s Article 5, amid fear that Putin may set his sights on other countries in the region — the Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia are all NATO members, having joined in 2014.
“It’s been very clear that we are committed Article 5, we’re committed to defending our NATO allies, and if it comes to that, we’ll do it,” Blinken told ABC News’ David Muir on Thursday evening. “But right now, our focus is on Ukraine, our focus is on trying to prevent President Putin from going even further. But it looks like he’s going for everything he can get.”
“Is it a possibility that Putin goes beyond Ukraine? Sure, it’s a possibility, but there’s something very powerful standing in the way of that — that’s something we call Article 5 of NATO,” he added. “That means an attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all members of NATO. The president’s been very clear that we will defend every inch of NATO territory.”
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