Russia invades Ukraine and starts war – live updates
The major attacks were carried out between 23 February – the day before Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine – and 8 April, the tech giant said in its report today.
In the 37 attacks, the hackers had destroyed files of dozens of Ukrainian organisations. More than 40 per cent of those attacks were aimed at organisations that provide critical infrastructure.
While Russia‘s invasion has been viewed as poorly planned and executed, Microsoft researchers describe the cyber campaign as having often coincided with Putin’s military plans. For example, the tech company’s timeline shows that on 1 March – the same day a Russian missile was fired at Kyiv’s TV tower – media companies in the Ukrainian capital were targeted by destructive hacks and cyberespionage.
A total of 237 cyber attacks were carried out by Kremlin-affiliated hackers that had been positioning themselves to target Ukraine as early as March 2021, Microsoft also said.
Brittney Griner is US’s ‘top priority’ for release from Russia
WNBA player Brittney Griner, who was detained in Russia in February and faces up to 10 years in prison in the country on drug charges, remains a “top priority”, a US State Department spokesman said.
The comment was made after former US Marine Trevor Reed was released by Russia today after three years behind bars.
His release was part of a prisoner swap between the US and Russia, which took place in Turkey.
UN secretary-general arrives in Ukraine to meet Zelensky
Antonio Guterres has arrived in Ukraine after visiting Vladimir Putin in Russia.
Tomorrow, the UN secretary-general will hold talks with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba.
“I have arrived in Ukraine after visiting Moscow,” Mr Guterres tweeted.
He also said: “We will continue our work to expand humanitarian support & secure the evacuation of civilians from conflict zones.
“The sooner this war ends, the better – for the sake of Ukraine, Russia, and the world.”
Kharkiv place names linked to Russia ‘to be changed’
All Russia-related place names in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv could be changed after the war.
Kharkiv mayor Ihor Terekhov vowed to ask local deputies to change all Russian names, such as Moscow Avenue – the longest street in the city.
Mr Terekhov wrote on Telegram: “There can be no toponyms associated with the aggressor country in Kharkiv.
“The defenders of Kharkiv and Ukraine should be immortalised on the map of our city – both individual heroes and entire military units.
“I am sure that the new street names will always remind us and our children of what Ukraine has done and what contribution Kharkiv has made to the struggle for our honor and dignity, for the country’s independence, for the right to exist of the Ukrainian people.”
A dedicated section will be created on Kharkiv city council’s website where residents can suggest new names, he also said.
Russia ‘carried out 37 major cyber attacks against Ukraine’
Russian government hackers have carried out 37 destructive cyber attacks against Ukraine, according to Microsoft.
The attacks between 23 February – the day before Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine – and 8 April appeared to support Moscow’s military attacks and online propaganda campaigns, Microsoft said in a report today.
The tech company’s timeline shows that on 1 March – the same day a Russian missile was fired at Kyiv’s TV tower – media companies in the Ukrainian capital were targeted by destructive hacks and cyberespionage.
“Suspected Russian actors” had been lurking on Ukrainian critical infrastructure in the northeast city of Sumy, two weeks before widespread electricity shortages were reported in the area on 3 March, according to Microsoft.
The next day, Microsoft said, Russian hackers broke into a government network in the central Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia. Two days later, missiles leveled the city’s airport.
UK MPs say it’s ‘badge of honour’ to be blacklisted by Russia
British MPs have taken Russia’s sanctioning of almost 300 of them today as a point of pride.
The Kremlin banned 287 British MPs from entering Russia, and accused them of “whipping up Russophobic hysteria”.
Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, a Labour MP, was added to the blacklist. He was one of many MPs – of all stripes – that said they will “wear that as a badge of honour”.
Labour MP Chris Bryant raised a point of order in British parliament, saying: “I’m absolutely distressed that I’m not on the list.”
The list of 287 British MPs’ names included current and former ministers as well as several people who are no longer MPs. One former MP, Dominic Grieve, appears twice on the list.
The UK is one of many Western countries that has imposed sanctions on Russian individuals – including 386 members of Russia’s lower house of parliament – and entities, in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
Chinese drone firm withdraws from Russia and Ukraine
Drone company DJI Technology has temporarily its suspended business activities in Russia and Ukraine.
The move is a rare case of a Chinese company withdrawing from Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
The company said it was ceasing operations for the foreseeable future in an attempt to stop its drones being used in the conflict, as both nations are thought to be using DJI drones in combat.
The company has maintained that its products are intended for civilian use only.
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Decision marks a rare case of a Chinese firm pulling out of Russia due to its war in Ukraine
US and Russia swap prisoners in Turkey
The US and Russia swapped prisoners today, with former US Marine Trevor Reed released in exchange for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko.
“Today, we welcome home Trevor Reed and celebrate his return to the family that missed him dearly,” president Joe Biden said in a statement, noting their concerns about the 30-year-old’s health.
Mr Reed, from Texas, was on his way to be reunited with his family in the US, senior Biden administration officials said, after the exchange that took place in Turkey.
In 2019, Mr Reed was convicted in Russia of endangering the lives of two police officers while drunk on a visit to Moscow. The US has called his trial a “theater of the absurd.”
US officials said Mr Biden commuted the sentence of Mr Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot who was arrested by American special forces in Liberia in 2010 and convicted for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the US.
Russia had proposed a prisoner swap for Yaroshenko in July 2019 in exchange for the release of any American.
Kazakhstan may punish Russian TV host over Ukraine comments
Kazakhstan may declare a prominent Russian television host persona non grata after he said the Central Asian nation could meet the same fate as Ukraine if it did not side decisively with Russia, a Kazakh official said.
Although it has not condemned Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine, Kazakhstan, an oil-rich former Soviet republic, has called for the crisis to be resolved in line with the United Nations charter, has sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and has said it will abide by Western sanctions against Moscow.
Tigran Keosayan – married to Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the Kremlin-backed media outlet RT – said on his YouTube show that Kazakhstan was being “ungrateful” and “sly” by failing to show its support for Russia.
Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aibek Smadiyarov said Keosayan’s comments were “insulting” and lacked objectivity.
“Perhaps his statement reflects the views of some parts of the Russian public and political establishment, but it goes against the spirit and essence of the cooperation between our countries and the existing agreements between our leaders,” he added.
“I expect he will be included in the list of people who are not welcome in Kazakhstan.”
Putin tells his MPs that sanctions aren’t damaging Russia
Vladimir Putin told his MPs today that the Russian rouble, banking system, transport sector and economy have largely withstood international sanctions imposed against Moscow.
The Kremlin is expecting GDP to shrink by between 8.8 and 12.4 per cent this year, according to a document seen by Reuters – which reported that this could show that sanctions are hitting the Russian economy.
Addressing MPs in St Petersburg, Putin also vowed to come up with a response to attempts of other countries to make Russia a global pariah over its invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian president said all decisions on how Moscow would react in that situation have already been taken, and accused the West of pushing Ukraine into conflict with Russia.
Russian forces use tear gas and stun grenades to break up pro-Ukraine rally in Kherson
Russian forces used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse a pro-Ukraine rally in the occupied city of Kherson today, Ukraine‘s Prosecutor General said, as Moscow tightened its grip over the southern Ukrainian region.
Local authorities say Russia appointed its own mayor of Kherson on Tuesday after its troops took over the administration headquarters in the regional capital, which was the first big urban centre to be seized after the Feb. 24 invasion.
Some residents have staged occasional anti-occupation rallies in Kherson and crowds gathered in the city centre again on Wednesday, the date Kyiv had said Russia planned to stage a referendum to create a breakaway region like those in eastern Ukraine.
“During a peaceful pro-Ukrainian rally on Freedom Square in the city of Kherson, servicemen of the Russian armed forces used tear gas and stun grenades against the civilian population,” the office of Ukraine‘s Prosecutor General said in a statement.
It said it was investigating the incident, and that at least four people were wounded.