US withdraws personnel from Ukraine; DHS raises warnings of Russian cyberattacks on US electricity and communications network

US officials are warning that a Russian attack on Ukraine is likely within days and has withdrawn all US personnel from the country. Canada has pulled all of its military trainers from the region and urged Canadian families to leave immediately, leaving Ukraine now vulnerable. Most of those remaining allies are now in Poland.

The evacuation spells the end of “Operation Unifier”, a large Allied training mission in Ukraine, involving both the United Kingdom and the United States. Ukrainians are on their own again, as 100,000 Russian troops surround Ukraine along the vast border, and Ukrainians say parts of their country are already under Russian control.

But the battle ahead may be non-traditional and can be fought by non-combatant means – particularly cyberattacks, economic attacks and terrorist bomb threats, especially as the United States has warned Russia of sanctions. economic if President Vladimir Putin attacks Ukraine.

With the United States now under the leadership of a frail President, whose mental capacities are obviously diminished, Putin may have plans for cyberattacks against the United States, if our nation retaliates economically against Russia, as promised. President Joe Biden.

It may be too late for America’s power plants, power grids, internet, water treatment and other infrastructure to bolster the security of these economic cornerstones, if such an attack is launched.

“We believe that Russia would consider launching a cyberattack on the homeland if it perceived that a US or NATO response to a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine threatened its long-term national security,” according to a DHS intelligence and analysis bulletin sent to law enforcement. agencies on January 23.

The DHS bulletin also says a “range of offensive cyber tools it could use against US networks” are available to the Russians. According to, “Over the past few weeks, the Russian government has reportedly launched a handful of cyberattacks against Ukraine. Last month, hacker groups linked to Russian intelligence services were accused of having cyber attack which defaced dozens of Ukrainian government sites with a message warning the country “to be afraid and expect the worst”.

Such a similar attack on American infrastructure would be considered an act of war, and would have to be sweeping and carried out with an element of surprise, or American retaliation would cripple Russia’s own infrastructure.

The threat has continued to grow: In December, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued an urgent bulletin: “An Internet vulnerability, which is being widely exploited by a growing number of malicious actors, presents an urgent challenge to defenders of the network given its widespread use,” according to CISA Director Jen Easterly. “To be clear, this vulnerability poses a serious risk.”

Easterly was referring to a software component called “Log4j”, a utility that runs in the background of the vast majority of software applications in the United States. Even the Ministry of Defense uses Log4j.

What does this mean for Alaska? Alaskans can expect to see more activity around its military bases in the coming days, more outings and drills, and more base security.

For a state as remote as Alaska, the threat of being entirely dependent on shipping for fuel and food over long distances in harsh conditions, makes the threat of a cyberattack more concerning, especially for the Rural Alaska, where there are no roads. A communications system outage, such as the cellular network failing, or the jamming of computers that operate the Trans Alaska Pipeline System would necessitate a declaration of disaster or a state of emergency. A governor might need to call in the National Guard in such an emergency.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has already focused on increasing security, asking the Legislature for $25 million to increase food security in the state, and another $23 million to migrate all servers in the state. state to ‘the cloud’, in anticipation of major disruptions, such as the one that could occur with Russia and possibly North Korea.

But it would take years to effect the shift to greater food security in Alaska, as well as to prevent the state’s servers from being taken down by foreign hackers, even if Dunleavy could win the legislature’s approval.

Whether the legislature has the clarity to work on this issue is a question. To the extent that a cyberattack on the United States poses a threat of any magnitude to Alaska, the House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee will continue its investigation into the veterans group known as the name of Oath Keepers, with a presentation by Sam Jackson. , author of “Oath Keepers: Patriotism and the Edge of Violence in a Right-Wing Antigovernment Group,” and Matthew Kriner, Senior Fellow at the Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism, Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

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