Ukraine’s president accuses Russia of launching cyberattack against election commission

Ukrainians go to the polls on March 31; analysts have warned that Moscow could attempt to interfere.
Petro Poroshenko speaks during an Atlantic Council event (Flickr/Atlantic Council/ImageLink Photography/Dennis Kan).

Weeks before Ukraine’s presidential election, the country’s president has accused the Russian government of conducting distributed denial-of-service attacks on Ukraine’s election commission, according to local media reports.

The DDoS attacks took place Sunday and Monday on the Central Election Commission, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Tuesday in Kiev, the Interfax-Ukraine News Agency reported.

Ukrainian national security and law enforcement authorities “developed protection mechanisms” against the attacks in coordination with “our American partners,” Poroshenko is quoted as saying. Few specific details about the attack were available.

The Russian Embassy in Washington could not immediately be reached for comment.


Ukrainians are scheduled to vote on March 31 in what is expected to be boisterous presidential election. Ukraine’s infrastructure has repeatedly been targeted by suspected Russian hackers in recent years, and outside analysts and Ukrainian officials have warned that Moscow could try to intervene in the election.

“The available information indicates that Russia intends to use the entire arsenal, including cybernetic means, to influence the democratic will of the Ukrainian people,” Oleksandr Turchynov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said recently.

Ukraine would be working with the European Union on exercises in which “different scenarios of cyber interference will be modeled and models of response to cyberthreats will be developed,” Turchynov added.

The U.S. also has tried to help Ukraine raise its cyberdefenses. The State Department last May announced it would double the cybersecurity aid it had pledged to Ukraine the previous year to $10 million.

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.

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