West Risks Direct Military Clash Over Cyberattacks, Says Russia

russia, kremlin, st basil's cathedral

Pot kettle black. Russia’s Foreign Ministry says cyber attacks against its infrastructure risks leading to direct military confrontation

Russia has warned the West on Thursday that cyberattacks against its infrastructure risked leading to direct military confrontation.

Reuters also reported Russia’s foreign ministry as saying that attempts to challenge Moscow in the cyber sphere would be met with targeted countermeasures.

It comes after the Russia government suffered another high profile cyberattack this week, after one of its ministry websites was compromised.

Russia’s Ministry of Construction, Housing and Utilities was hacked at the weekend, with an internet search for the site leading to a “Glory to Ukraine” sign written in Ukrainian.

Ukraine - Shutterstock - © Mykhaylo Palinchak

Russian warning

The foreign ministry said that Russia’s critical infrastructure and state institutions were being hit by cyberattacks and pointed to figures in the United States and Ukraine as being responsible.

“Rest assured, Russia will not leave aggressive actions unanswered,” it was quoted as saying. “All our steps will be measured, targeted, in accordance with our legislation and international law.”

The statement, issued by the ministry’s head of international information security, said Washington was “deliberately lowering the threshold for the combat use” of IT.

“The militarisation of the information space by the West, and attempts to turn it into an arena of interstate confrontation, have greatly increased the threat of a direct military clash with unpredictable consequences,” it said.

President Vladimir Putin said in May that the number of cyberattacks on Russia by foreign “state structures” had increased several times over and called on the country to bolster its IT security.

Other attacks

And it is fair to say that there has been many cyberattacks against Russia after it began its unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation on 24 February.

Indeed, such was the global outrage at Russia’s aggression, hacking groups such as Anonymous have been fighting back and conducting numerous cyberattacks against Russian targets, including Russian state TV channels and even the Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor.

And it should be noted that Russia has carried out a large number of cyberattacks against Ukraine targets as well – going as far back as 2014 (when it illegally invaded Crimea) and beyond.

Last month for example US and UK intelligence officials confirmed that Russia was responsible for the cyberattack on the US-based Viasat communication systems, which began an hour before Russia illegally invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022.

And hackers linked to the Russian state have been carrying out cyberattacks against Western infrastructure for a decade or more.

After Russia-linked hackers conducted a number of high profile cyberattacks against US targets in 2021, President Joe Biden raised the cyberattack issue with Vladimir Putin during a face to face meeting, and warned him that certain critical US infrastructure should be “off-limits” to cyberattacks.

Indeed, President Biden warned Putin of ‘retaliation’ and an ‘aggressive response’ if Russia attacks a list of 16 ‘critical’ industries in America.

Then in July 2021 President Biden underscored how serious the US is taking cyberattacks, when he admitted they could cause a ‘real shooting war’ with a ‘major power’.

Ever since 2011 the United States said it reserved the right to retaliate with military force against a cyberattack from a hostile state.

General Paul Nakasone

Last week the head of US Cyber Command, General Paul Nakasone, confirmed for the first time that US military hackers had conducted offensive operations in support of Ukraine, but did not disclosed details.