A U.K. intelligence chief is warning that Russia is looking for cyber targets and bringing in mercenaries to shore up its stalled military campaign in Ukraine.
Jeremy Fleming, who heads the U.K.’s GCHQ electronic spy agency, said Russian President Vladimir Putin “massively misjudged” his chances for a swift military victory in Ukraine.
In a speech in Australia, Fleming praised Ukraine’s “information operation” for effectively countering Russia’s big disinformation campaign about the war.
While there were expectations that Russia would launch a major cyberattack as part of its military campaign, Fleming said such a move was never part of Moscow’s playbook.
But Fleming warns that Russia’s “cyber actors are looking for targets in the countries that oppose their actions.”
The U.S. has been warning various industries to remain vigilant and watch for evidence of imminent cyberattacks, such as probing of companies’ IP addresses.
Earlier this week, it was reported that a powerful cyberattack had disrupted a major Ukraine telecom firm’s services. A similar incident took place earlier this month with Triolan, a smaller Ukrainian telecom company, Forbes previously reported. That company suffered a hack that reset some internal systems, resulting in some local subscribers losing access.
Meanwhile, Moscow’s Moving
All this has been happening as nations including the U.S. are waiting to see if Russia is acting in earnest to reposition troops that had been closing in on the capital, Kyiv, and other priority regions, as it pledged to do earlier this week. There has been a high degree of skepticism about the Kremlin pledge, and indeed bombardments seemed to be continuing in many of the areas from which Russia had indicated it would back off.
The Pentagon said Wednesday that over the last 24 hours it has seen some Russian troops in the areas around Kyiv moving north toward or into Belarus.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the U.S. does not view this as a withdrawal, but as an attempt by Russia to resupply, refit and then reposition the troops.
“We don’t know exactly where these troops are going to go,” he said.
But he noted that Russia has talked about prioritizing the Donbas region in the eastern part of Ukraine, where there are large contingents of separatists aligning with Moscow. Kirby was speaking on CNN and Fox Business.
Kirby also said that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have continued to try to speak with their Russian counterparts but they have “not answered and they have not replied with a willingness to do so.”
Newsmax contributed to this report.