Internet connectivity in Ukraine has been badly affected by the Russian invasion, particularly in the southern and eastern parts of the country where fighting has been heaviest, Internet blockage observatory NetBlocks said on Saturday.
Russian forces captured the southeastern Ukrainian city of Melitopol on Saturday, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported, as Moscow launched coordinated cruise missile and artillery strikes on several cities, including the capital Kyiv.
Connectivity to GigaTrans, Ukraine’s main internet provider, dropped to below 20 per cent of normal levels before returning to higher levels in the early hours of Friday morning, NetBlocks said.
“We currently observe national connectivity at 87 per cent of ordinary levels, a figure that reflects service disruptions as well as population flight and the shuttering of homes and businesses since the morning of the 24th,” Alp Toker, director of NetBlocks, told Reuters.
“While there is no nation-scale blackout, little is being heard from the worst affected regions, and for others there’s an ever-present fear that connectivity could worsen at any moment, cutting off friends and family,” Toker said. Disruptions to Ukraine’s telecommunications networks could affect civilian defence groups that have been mobilising to defend their cities, he added.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials released more information about an alleged Belarusian cyberespionage operation they said was targeting personal email accounts belonging to Kyiv’s forces.
In a Facebook post, Ukraine’s Computer Emergency Response Team said the hackers were targeting not just Ukrainians but also Poles, Russians, and Belarusians as well — including several Belarusian media organisations.
Emails sent to the Belarusian embassy in London were not returned.
A Russia-based cybercrime group, known for using ransomware to extort millions of dollars from US and European companies, vowed on Friday to attack enemies of the Kremlin if they respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In a blog post , the Conti group said it was announcing its “full support” for the government of Putin. On Thursday, the Russian military invaded Ukraine from the north, east and south, in the biggest attack on a European state since World War II.
Chernobyl unharmed: Scientists
The failed Chernobyl nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine as well as the nation’s 15 operating reactors are safe and secure amid Russia’s invasion, according to nuclear experts and the International Atomic Energy Agency, an arm of the UN that sets safety standards for the world’s nuclear reactors and inspects them for compliance.
“The only real issue is if a nearby target got hit and caused some collateral damage,” said Edwin Lyman, a reactor expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a private group in Cambridge, Mass. “I don’t see this as an imminent radiological threat. I don’t think Russia would deliberately target a plant.”
New York Times News Service