State Department to double cyberdefense aid to Ukraine

The State Department will double the aid to $10 million.
(Flickr user eltpics)

The State Department will double the cyberdefense aid it pledged to Ukraine last year to $10 million in an effort to bolster the security of an ally in the crosshairs of alleged Russian hackers, according to department spokesperson.

Wess Mitchell, the assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, made the announcement Wednesday after meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

“The threat from Russia is real,” Nauert tweeted. “Our commitment to Ukraine is unbending.”

A different department spokesperson declined to comment when CyberScoop asked how the new money will be used.


The two countries held their first bilateral cybersecurity dialogue in Kiev in September, at which the United States announced $5 million in new cybersecurity assistance to “strengthen Ukraine’s ability to prevent, mitigate, and respond to cyberattacks.”

The Ukrainian power grid has been a ripe target for hackers, who carried out advanced attacks there in 2015 and 2016. The first attack cut power for 225,000 people, while the second used malware to de-energize a Ukrainian substation. Ukrainian officials blamed Russian hackers for both attacks.

After the 2015 cyberattack, an interagency group of U.S. officials traveled to Ukraine to study the attack’s forensics with their Ukrainian counterparts.

Against the backdrop of those seismic cyberattacks, Congress is trying to help secure Ukrainian critical infrastructure. In February, the House of Representatives passed a bill tasking the State Department with providing any support needed to secure Ukrainian government computers, “particularly such networks that defend the critical infrastructure of Ukraine.”

Separately, the U.S. Army’s Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative is trying to make Ukrainian military networks more resilient by setting up a sophisticated cyber-operations center in Ukraine’s defense ministry.


In December, Pennsylvania-based IT provider Black Box Corp., announced it had won an additional $10.4 million to provide hardware and software under the program.

Sean Lyngaas

Written by Sean Lyngaas

Sean Lyngaas is CyberScoop’s Senior Reporter covering the Department of Homeland Security and Congress. He was previously a freelance journalist in West Africa, where he covered everything from a presidential election in Ghana to military mutinies in Ivory Coast for The New York Times. Lyngaas’ reporting also has appeared in The Washington Post, The Economist and the BBC, among other outlets. His investigation of cybersecurity issues in the nuclear sector, backed by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, won plaudits from industrial security experts. He was previously a reporter with Federal Computer Week and, before that, with Smart Grid Today. Sean earned a B.A. in public policy from Duke University and an M.A. in International Relations from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Latest Podcasts