The Cyber Dimension of the Crisis in Ukraine: An Expert Panel Discussion
From Katie Gentilello
This panel brings together experts on the cyber dimension of the conflict in Ukraine to explore its geopolitical context and potential trajectories. The Russian military intervention in Ukraine has taken an ominous turn recently with the buildup of Russian military forces on the Ukrainian border. This represents an escalation in a long-running conflict that began in the wake of the Euromaidan demonstrations in Kyiv in late 2013, resulting in the Russian occupation of the Crimea and military stalemate in the Donbass region. Ukraine also became one of the most active cyber battlefields in the world. Russia has conducted continuous espionage, disinformation, and subversion campaigns. Its operations have caused electrical blackouts in 2014 and 2015 and triggered the NotPetya infection in 2017. Indeed, Ukraine has become the paradigmatic example of cyber conflict in the “gray zone” between peace and war.
What are we to make of the current buildup? While no one can predict the future of a dangerous and dynamic crisis like this, our panelists can provide some political and strategic context. We focus in particular on the role of cyber warfare and information operations in the current phase of this crisis. Will the future resemble the past? Should we expect cyber operations to be used as complement to or substitute for military operations? Will cyber attacks make military escalation more or less likely? How might information and disinformation operations shape the Ukrainian or NATO responses to Russian acts? And how should the United States respond?