How the international media covered the Russo-Ukrainian war, July 12

Sasha Sverdlova

Wired writes about Russian “hacktivist groups” and explores their connections to Kremlin. One of the groups – Killnet, has declared “war” against 10 Ukrainian ally countries, including Lithuania. Starting June 20th and over the next ten days, the hackers DDoSed more than 130 Lithuanian government and business websites. Overall, in recent months the Killnet targeted Germany, Italy, Romania, Norway, and the United States. The attacks usually happen following a case of support for Ukraine or measures against Russia. Killnet emerged in January this year as a DDoS tool and later evolved into a Telegram channel, where it is gaining significant popularity in Russia. Another “hacktivist group,” XakNet, committed attacks on major Ukrainian energy company DTEK. The Trickbot cybercriminal group was spotted by IBM targeting Ukraine for the first time last week. While Russia has consistently denied launching cyberattacks worldwide, there is evidence that these groups are connected to Kremlin. XakNet and Killnet have had access to Russian state-owned media, they are helping advance Russian interests in the world. According to Emily Harding, a deputy director of the international security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Moscow’s security services keep relations with Russian hacktivist groups deliberately ambiguous, using some forms of leverage when needed.

The New York Times talked to a Ukrainian paramedic Yulia Paievska aka Taira, who spent three months as a war prisoner in Russia. Paievska is a well-known volunteer medic who gathered an all-female medic group back during the earlier phase of the war in the Donbas area. Since 2014 Paievska has trained more than 8000 people in tactical medicine. Taira was captured on March 16 while evacuating a group from Mariupol. The Russians knew who she was, and they threw her into solitary confinement and later into a small cell with 21 other women. During the detention, she was deprived of her medication and suffered physical and psychological pressure. Taira and other prisoners were even forced to sing the Russian anthem and other pro-Russian songs and slogans. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, they are holding 6.000 Ukrainian prisoners of war as of the end of June, the number which can’t be verified.

A foreign affairs expert Walter Russel Mead wrote an op-ed on the Wall Street Journal exploring how Russia and China are using the West’s wokeness in their own interests. While Ukraine continues demonstrating innovative tactics and higher morale on the battlefield and has started to exercise advantages of western high-tech arms, Putin achieves successes in economy and politics – the domains West thought to be its’ most substantial powers. As Germany fears a dark, cold winter following the Russian gas embargo, and countries around the globe led by China are choosing to trade with Russia over solidarity with Ukraine and its’ allies, the West must recalibrate its approach, writes Mead. He outlines three particular vulnerabilities in the Western system that must be addressed. First, protectionism in Europe and US, that reduces economic attraction for developing countries. Second, “the values-based” component in American and European foreign policy states that European values are universal and shall be supported by everyone who cares about the global future. Third, it is failing “woke” values plan that is rather dividing than uniting. LGBTQ rights, abortion on demand, and freedom of speech are understood as allowing unchecked Internet pornography to offend and confuse billions of people around the globe and, based on recent developments, even in the West. This moral and political confusion is used as a tool by Russia and China, who have been successfully using “Western decadence” for more than a decade. Therefore, Mead concludes that Western survival and global peace require a change deeper than Biden or his European colleagues currently think of.