The head of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine (FISU), Yegor Bozhok, discussed Russia’s plans for Ukraine in 2019 in his interview with Ukrinform. According to Bozhok, Russian secret services and military forces are determined “to resolve the Ukrainian problem” in 2019. The precise meanings are open for interpretation, but ostensibly “resolve” means to return Ukraine into the orbit of Russian influence and to ensure that “color revolutions” in Ukraine do not happen in the future. This is, as it happens, a possibility the Bolsheviks were looking to preempt in 1919 as well.
Mr. Bozhok claims that Russia has allocated $350 million to its intelligence services to finance interference in Ukraine’s elections. According to him, the money will be spent on the production of fake news, bribery, cyberattacks, and the organization of provocations and protests.
The reliability of the FISU sources was confirmed by Serhiy Demedyuk, the head of Ukraine’s cyber police. In his exclusive interview with Reuters, he emphasized that since the end of 2018, Russian hackers have been emailing virus-infected greeting cards, shopping invitations, software updates, and other “phishing” materials intended to steal the passwords and personal information of Ukraine’s election workers. Concentrating on civil servants who keep the election commission’s equipment running, “the virus-laden New Year’s greetings on behalf of government bodies or the governments have become so widespread that they are just overwhelming,” Demedyuk said. According to the reporting, the spam contains malware designed to infiltrate and control the election officials’ computers.
The glaring geopolitical nature of such cyberattacks aside, the Russian intelligence services remain the primary suspects of this attack. Hackers were reportedly also buying personal details of election officials and paying in cryptocurrency that in many cases used the same wallets that financed previous cyberattacks in Ukraine. In Demeduyk’s opinion, blame for these attacks falls squarely on the same hacker organizations that are under the control of Russian special agencies.