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US sanctions former Ukrainian official for helping Russian cyberspies

US Treasury

US Treasury

The U.S. Treasury Department announced today sanctions against Volodymyr Oliynyk, a former Ukrainian official, for collecting and sharing info on critical Ukrainian infrastructure with Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).

“In 2021, Oliynyk worked at the direction of the FSB to gather information about Ukrainian critical infrastructure,” the Treasury Department said.

“As in previous Russian incursions into Ukraine, repeated cyber operations against Ukraine’s critical infrastructure are part of Russia’s hybrid tactics to threaten Ukraine.

According to the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the information provided by Oliynyk would help Russian-backed state hackers target Ukraine’s critical infrastructure based on previously observed Russian hybrid war tactics.

“The overall strategy is designed to pull Ukraine into Russia’s orbit by thwarting Ukraine’s efforts at Western integration, especially with the European Union (E.U.) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO),” the Treasury added.

“As Russia has pursued broad cyber operations against critical infrastructure, it has focused on disrupting one critical infrastructure sector in particular: Ukraine’s energy sector. ”

For instance, during and following the Donbass conflict between Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces which started in mid-2014, Russian-backed hackers were believed to be behind several power outages across Ukraine experienced across several regions.

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Earlier this month, multiple Ukrainian government agencies and corporate entities were also the targets of coordinated cyberattacks that led to websites being defaced and data-wiping malware being deployed to corrupt data and brick Windows devices.

While Ukraine blames this month’s attacks on Russia, some security experts have attributed them to Ghostwriter, a state-sponsored hacking group linked to Belarus.

Oliynyk has a history of supporting Russia and shares the Russian’s regime anti-Western sentiments, according to OFAC. After fleeing Ukraine to seek refuge in Russia, he currently resides in Moscow, Russia.

“Oliynyk is being designated pursuant to E.O. 14024 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the Government of the Russian Federation,” the Treasury said.

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