Ukraine said Friday that it believes Russian-linked hackers were responsible for hacking the Ukrainian navy's website and publishing a series of fake reports about its ongoing Sea Breeze military drills taking place in the Black Sea.
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the “entire Kremlin propaganda machine” was involved in the alleged hacking, though Russia’s foreign ministry has yet to publicly comment on the incident, according to Reuters.
The statement added that the “threats have been eliminated” and that “the work of the Navy website will be restored in short time.”
“The authorized divisions are working to update resources on the Internet at the proper level of protection," the defense ministry said, according to Reuters.
The reported cyberattack by Russia-linked actors comes as the Kremlin has called on Ukraine to cancel the annual Black Sea military exercises it is hosting with the United States and more than two dozen other countries, including several other NATO allies.
The exercises, which began on June 28 and are set to run through Saturday, have included drills on “multiple warfare areas including amphibious warfare, land maneuver warfare, diving operations, maritime interdiction operations, air defense, special operations integration, anti-submarine warfare, and search and rescue operations,” the U.S. Navy said in a press release last month.
Russia has said that it is monitoring the actions of the drills, and late last month tested its air defense system in Crimea, which Russia has claimed as its own since 2014, though much of the international community views the annexation as an illegal occupation.
Just days ahead of the start to the Sea Breeze drills last month, Russia’s defense ministry said it had fired warning shots toward a British Royal Navy destroyer as it neared Crimea in the Black Sea.
However, the British Ministry of Defense quickly denied this report, instead saying that the Royal Navy ship was “conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law,” and that “no shots were directed at HMS Defender.”
“We do not recognise the claim that bombs were dropped in her path,” the British defense agency said at the time.
Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinPutin's party wins big majority in Russian parliamentary elections Putin's party expected to keep control of lower house amid fraud complaints Clinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' MORE later claimed that a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft was present with the British ship at the time of the alleged warning shot incident.
Wendy L. Snyder, the head of public affairs at the U.S. Navy's European Command, told The Hill at the time that while it "did have aircraft in operations" in the Black Sea region, "the claims by Russia about any incident are false" and represent "disinformation."
Snyder at the time also defended the Sea Breeze operations, citing them as part of the U.S. military’s “ongoing continued support to security and stability in the region.”