The White House believes Russia is the source of the numerous cyber attacks against the Ukrainian government in recent weeks, deputy national security adviser Anne Neuberger confirmed Friday.
Ukraine has faced severe cyber attacks as Russian troops have massed on its border in recent months, but President Joe Biden’s administration had not previously confirmed the attacks were coming from Russia. Neuberger warned during a press briefing at the White House that the attacks from Russia this week were in part an effort to prepare more severe cyber attacks that could accompany a potential military invasion. (RELATED: Biden Approves More Troops For Deployment Amid Russia-Ukraine Tensions)
“We believe that the Russian government is responsible for widescale cyberattacks on Ukrainian banks this week,” Neuberger told reporters. “We have technical information that links the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, as known GRU infrastructure was seen transmitting high volumes of communication to Ukraine-based IP addresses and domains.”
“Earlier this week we saw a kind of cyber attack known as a DDoS attack that overloads online services at the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and state-owned banks. There were also text messages sent to bank customers telling them that ATM services were unavailable,” she added.
A reporter then pressed Neuberger for more details on how the U.S. confirmed Russia as the source of the attacks, as well as how extensive the attacks were. Neuberger stated that the U.S. made the assessment faster than usual in an effort to hold Russia accountable for its actions.
Neuberger argued the Russian attacks had “limited” impact, thanks to Ukrainian cyber defense getting banks and other affected networks back online in short order.
Biden and other U.S. officials continue to warn that the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine remains “very high.” Reporters pressed Biden on whether he personally believes Russian President Vladimir Putin will choose to invade on Thursday.
“Yes, I do,” Biden responded. “Not — my sense is this will happen in the next several days.”
State Department officials have echoed Biden’s statement, highlighting that reports of a Wednesday invasion were sourced to unnamed military officials and did not come from an official U.S. announcement.
“If something doesn’t come to pass, it doesn’t necessarily mean that what we’ve been warning of is wrong,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said Wednesday. “In the best-case scenario, the Russians will have changed their calculus.”
Biden will deliver an address updating the country on the Ukraine situation later Friday.