Kyiv Cyberattack Amid Zelensky’s U.S. Plea for War Assistance


KYIV — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, gearing up to meet U.S. lawmakers and President Biden in Washington on Tuesday for a crucial plea to secure around $60 billion in vital U.S. aid, faced a significant cyberattack in the Ukrainian capital. The attack targeted Kyivstar, a major mobile phone and internet provider, along with at least one bank.

This cyber assault highlighted the ongoing threat to Ukraine’s statehood. The political discord between Democrats and Republicans in Washington raised concerns about potential disruptions in aid to Ukraine from its key ally.

The White House noted on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin remains committed to conquering Ukraine, despite significant human costs incurred by Moscow’s troops in their efforts to advance into Ukrainian-held territory.

According to the National Security Council’s latest intelligence, Russia’s military has suffered over 13,000 casualties and lost more than 220 combat vehicles since launching an offensive in eastern Ukraine in October. The Council emphasized Russia’s belief that a winter military deadlock could weaken Western support for Ukraine, giving Russia an advantage despite its own losses and shortages.

In anticipation of meetings with Congress and the White House, Zelensky underscored the stakes in social media posts. He reiterated his commitment to stopping Russia’s global war on freedom, urging reliance on Ukraine and emphasizing the need for U.S. support.

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Zelensky acknowledged frustrations over the stalled counteroffensive, attributing delays to Ukraine’s requirement for additional weapons and training from Western supporters, especially the United States.

The war in Ukraine combines trench warfare reminiscent of World War I with 21st-century high-tech weaponry, including explosive drones. Russia’s efforts to disrupt internet service in Ukraine have forced reliance on Starlink, operated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

On the morning of Zelensky’s meetings in Washington, a massive hacking attack targeted Kyivstar, the country’s largest mobile provider. The attack temporarily disabled communication and internet services for its 24 million subscribers. Ukrainian authorities are investigating, with suspicions pointing toward the special services of the Russian Federation.

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Zelensky’s frustration with U.S. lawmakers’ hesitance to approve additional aid was evident in his comments at the National Defense University. Disagreements over aid have stalled progress, leading to doubts about further approvals this year. Zelensky aims to secure U.S. commitment to assistance in January.

While the European Union seeks emergency financial support for Kyiv, Hungary’s potential veto poses a challenge. Tensions between Zelensky and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban reflect broader concerns about Western support for Ukraine.

The uncertainty over Western commitment raises anxiety in Kyiv, recognizing the immediate threat posed by decreased assistance. Ukrainian forces currently lack the necessary weapons to defend and advance, potentially leading to territorial concessions. Putin’s annexation of Ukrainian territories further heightens the urgency for sustained international support.

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