KYIV/MOSCOW (Reuters) -Ukraine was hit by a massive cyberattack warning its citizens to “be afraid and expect the worst”, and Russia, which has massed more than 100,000 troops on its neighbour’s frontier, released TV pictures on Friday of more forces deploying in a drill.
The developments unfolded hours after talks wrapped up with no breakthrough between Russia and Western states, which fear Moscow could launch a new attack on a country it invaded in 2014.
“The drumbeat of war is sounding loud,” Michael Carpenter, U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said at the close of talks on Thursday.
Russia denies plans to attack Ukraine but says it could take unspecified military action unless demands are met, including a promise by the NATO alliance never to admit Kyiv.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday Russia hoped security talks with the United States would resume, but this would depend on Washington’s response to Moscow’s proposals.
“We categorically will not accept the appearance of NATO right on our borders, especially so given the current course of the Ukrainian leadership,” he said.
Asked what Moscow meant by threatening this week to take “military-technical action” if talks fail, Lavrov said: “Measures to deploy military hardware, that is obvious. When we take decisions with military hardware we understand what we mean and what we are preparing for.”
Russian Defence Ministry footage released by RIA news agency showed armoured vehicles and other military hardware being loaded onto trains in Russia’s far east, in what Moscow called an inspection drill to practice deploying over a long distance.
“This is likely cover for the units being moved towards Ukraine,” said Rob Lee, a military analyst and a fellow at the U.S.-based Foreign Policy Research Institute.