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White House cybersecurity official warns of Russian hacks

Anne Neuberger

(Reuters) — Russia could use cyberattacks as part of its efforts to destabilize and further invade Ukraine, a White House cyber official visiting her European counterparts said Wednesday.

Anne Neuberger, U.S. deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technology, was meeting European Union and NATO officials in Brussels to discuss the threat of cyberattacks against Ukraine by Russia.

“We've been warning for weeks and months, both publicly and privately” of potential attacks, Ms. Neuberger told a virtual news conference.

“The Russians have used cyber as a key component of their force projection over the last decade, including previously in Ukraine,” Ms. Neuberger said.

Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops along the border with Ukraine, spurring fears of war. Although Russia denies it is planning an invasion, it is demanding sweeping security guarantees including a promise NATO never admit Ukraine.

Ms. Neuberger's visit comes after a massive cyberattack warning Ukrainians to “be afraid and expect the worst” hit government websites in mid-January, leaving some pages inaccessible and prompting Kyiv to open an investigation.