Major Russian Bank Faces ‘Unprecedented’ Cyber Attack; Russian Airfield Hit in Suspected Drone Strike

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Ukraine faced continuing missile attacks on Tuesday morning, a day after it faced a heavy barrage of missiles from Russia.

The city of Zaporizhzhia in the south is experiencing a particularly intense attack once again, with critical infrastructure facilities and residential buildings damaged, according to a regional official.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Monday that 70 Russian missiles had been fired at Ukraine during attacks yesterday and that most of them were shot down.

The wave of missile attacks came after blasts at two separate air bases in Russia. Three people were killed in one of the incidents and several people were injured in both. Russia blamed Kyiv for the attacks but Ukraine has not publicly commented on the incidents.

On Tuesday morning, the governor of Russia’s Kursk region, which borders Ukraine, said there was a “drone attack” near an airfield in the region. Kyiv has not yet commented on this latest possible attack.

The claimed Kursk attack followed other, similar blasts at Russian bases, some of which have been located hundreds of miles within Russia, well beyond the range of any prior Ukrainian attacks.

Meanwhile, Russian state-owned bank VTB, the country’s second-largest lender, says it was hit by the largest cyberattack it has ever experienced, describing it in a statement as “unprecedented.”

U.S. approves potential sale $3.75 billion of M1A1 Abrams tanks to Poland

The U.S. State Department has approved a potential sale of 116 General Dynamics made M1A1 Abrams tanks, other vehicles and munitions to Poland in a deal valued at up to $3.75 billion, the Pentagon said.

The sale comes just months after Poland was authorized to buy 250 M1A2 tanks by the same maker. With this new option, Poland could elect to buy a mix of the two tank versions as it seeks to modernize its military and adjust to new geopolitical realities following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The package would include vehicles to recover disabled tanks, eight assault bridges and other vehicles. It would also provide thousands of rounds of advanced munitions including armor-piercing rounds, spares and technical support, the Pentagon said.

The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of the possible sale on Tuesday.

Despite approval by the State Department, the notification does not indicate that a contract has been signed or that negotiations have concluded.

Blinken says U.S. neither encourages nor enables Ukraine to strike inside Russia

The United States has neither encouraged nor enabled the Ukrainians to strike inside of Russia, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, but repeated Washington’s determination to make sure Kyiv has the equipment it needs to defend itself.

A third Russian airfield was ablaze from a drone strike, a day after Ukraine demonstrated an apparent new ability to penetrate hundreds of miles (km) deep into Russian airspace with attacks on two Russian air bases. Kyiv did not directly claim responsibility for the strikes, but nonetheless celebrated them.

At U.N., U.S., Russia accuse each other of no interest in Ukraine talks

The United States and Russia accused each other of not being interested in Ukraine peace talks as calls grow at the United Nations for a ceasefire and diplomacy to end the war started by Moscow’s invasion nine months ago.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told a U.N. Security Council meeting on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine that Moscow had noted “interest from a significant majority” of U.N. member states in a diplomatic settlement.

“We are reacting to this very seriously. We confirm our willingness to conduct negotiations,” he said, but added that the aim would be to “eradicate the root causes that forced us to start our special military operation (SMO).” 

Poland says it will accept German Patriot air defense system

Poland’s defense minister said that his country will accept a Patriot missile defense system which Germany offered to deploy to Poland last month.

The German offer was made after an errant missile fell in Poland near the border with Ukraine, killing two Polish men. Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak had initially said he accepted the offer with “satisfaction.” 

But he and other Polish officials later said they felt the Patriot system should be placed in Ukraine, something Germany was unwilling to do.

NSA director outlines key lessons from the stealth U.S. cyber defense of Ukraine

More than two months before the Russian invasion, the United States sent a stealth team of cyber warriors from the National Security Agency into Ukraine to shore up the nation’s cyber defenses, NSA Director Paul Nakasone told CNBC anchor Morgan Brennan at the Reagan National Defense Forum.

“One year ago, on this day, we sent a hunt forward team into Kyiv, Ukraine,” said Nakasone. “They stayed there for 74 days before the war began, they came back, and they hardened networks in Ukraine.”

One of the lessons gleaned from the mission was that “presence matters,” Nakasone said. Another was the “tremendous role of the private sector,” he said.

“We see now that adversaries are going to use both cyber capabilities and military capabilities. And so [war] isn’t necessarily one or the other, I think it’s going to be a combined effort. So being able to take down communications while tanks roll through an area, that’s the future,” he added.

Ukraine’s successful defense of the majority of its cyber infrastructure from sophisticated Russian hackers is widely regarded as a key element of its successes so far on the battlefield.