Russian invasion intensifies over Ukraine border: are ports and cyberattacks on Europe and US next?
- There have been reports of Russian Federation-initiated attacks on key military bases, civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.
- The Department of Homeland Security has set up a page warning of cyberattacks emanating from Russia, and both the SEC and Finra echoed those concerns in notices to the public.
- Crude oil prices reach $100 per barrel.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has declared martial law across the country and will take a defensive stance on further military action taken inside its borders.
- Ukraine has reported that it has shot down 5 Russian planes as defensive measure.
- There are live reports of Ukrainians leaving Kyiv following the Russian military attacks.
- Russians rush to leave Russia as they fear the country revert back to its Iron Curtain days
- Britain and the US will want to avoid on-the-ground military action and could likely defend Ukraine and any other nations impacted by Russian-led attacks, through cyber-capabilities and defense equipment in a bid to get the Kremlin to back down.
- Cybersecurity contractors could be called in to protect key military and financial assets in Ukraine, the US, EU and UK.
- The Ukrainian ambassador to the US claims that Russian forces have already used a thermobaric weapon – what people call a “vacuum bomb”, which sucks in oxygen to generate a high-temperature explosion. Analysts say it is probably only a matter of time before they are used more widely.
Given Ukraine’s abundant natural resources and vital exports ranging from grain to gas, its ports have been on the Russian Federation’s radar to wreak further economic havoc, following a reported cyberattack on Ukraine’s baking system last week.
The Odessa Sea Port is the largest Ukrainian seaport and one of the largest ports in the Black Sea basin, with a total annual traffic capacity of 40 million tonnes.
There are already reports of international students that have died in crossfire when attempting to leave bomb shelters to get food.
JEF meeting statements
The Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), a group of nations with a common focus on security and stability in the High North, North Atlantic and Baltic Sea region met at Belvoir Castle in England this week to discuss the escalated military stance of the Russian Federation on the Ukraine border. The JEF is designed to be complementary to NATO’s Deterrence and Defence posture.
In a Ministry of Defence statement, the JEF expressed the following:
Never has the JEF been more important and relevant than it is today. During the course of our meeting the Russian Federation has recognised Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions as independent states, breaching Minsk agreements and international law. All ten Defence Ministers are united in our condemnation of that unjustified act, the build-up of Russian forces on the border with Ukraine, and further incursion in the Donbas region.
The JEF also said that it condemns the “instrumentalization of migration flows and other hybrid activity towards Latvia, Lithuania and Poland by the Belarussian regime.”
Since the meeting took place, Russian forces have been reported to have crossed into the Ukraine border and carried out military attacks on Ukrainian military bases, including assets surrounding the capital city of Kyiv.
Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford has been driving around in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol to report on the current situation in the early days of the invasion:
Ukraine takes defensive stance
On Wednesday, hours before Russia initiated an attack, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made an emotional address to his nation, not as its president but as one of its citizens.
“Today I initiated a phone call with the president of the Russian Federation. The result was silence. Though the silence should be in Donbas. That’s why I want to address today the people of Russia. I am addressing you not as a president, I am addressing you as a citizen of Ukraine.
“More than 2,000km of the common border is dividing us. Along this border your troops are stationed, almost 200,000 soldiers, thousands of military vehicles. Your leaders approved them to make a step forward, to the territory of another country. And this step can be the beginning of a big war on the European continent.
“We know for sure that we don’t need the war. Not a Cold War, not a hot war. Not a hybrid one. But if we’ll be attacked by the [enemy] troops, if they try to take our country away from us, our freedom, our lives, the lives of our children, we will defend ourselves. Not attack, but defend ourselves. And when you will be attacking us, you will see our faces, not our backs, but our faces.”
Financial implications already taking hold
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine will decimate global stockmarkets,” says Antonia Medlicott, Finance Editor at the financial comparison website, InvestingReviews.co.uk.
Medlicott’s comments may seem panic-stricken, but there are already signs of market shifts to safe-haven assets.
“Unsurprisingly, investors stampeded into safe-haven assets, with bond yields collapsing and precious metals, such as gold and silver, soaring,” she says.
She continues: “It’s no overstatement to say Europe has just entered its most dangerous period since WW2. Market volatility will be extreme in the short-term.
“The people of Ukraine are rightly front of mind and the call to arms is something few thought they would see in their lifetime.
“Domestically, with the oil price rising above $100, the cost of living crisis is set to deepen for UK households.
“For people globally, it’s hard to compute what they are seeing on their TV screens. Putin has crossed the Rubicon.”