Lithuania is hit by cyberattack and says Russia is ‘probably’ to blame – days after Kaliningrad fury | #cybersecurity | #cyberattack


Lithuania was today hit by an ‘intense’ cyberattack that targeted the country’s public and private websites, which Russia was ‘probably’ behind, said Jonas Skardinskas, the head of the National Cybersecurity Center. 

Russian hacker group Killnet claimed responsibility on Monday for at least some of the distributed-denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks on Lithuania, which targeted a secure national network.

Lithuania’s tax authority said in a statement it had halted all activities due to an unusually large number of attempts to connect to its systems, although all data was safe.

‘The main targets are state institutions, transport institutions, media websites,’ deputy Defence Minister Margiris Abukevicius said, in another sign of deteriorating relations between Baltic NATO country Lithuania and neighbouring Russia because of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Russian hacker group Killnet claimed responsibility for the cyberattack and said it was in response to Lithuania’s decision to block EU-sanctioned goods from reaching the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

‘The attack will continue until Lithuania lifts the blockade,’ a spokesperson for the Killnet group said. ‘We have demolished 1,652 web resources. And that’s just so far.

The incident came a week after Moscow vowed to retaliate against Lithuania with measures that ‘will have a serious negative impact on the Lithuanian population’ after the country blocked the transit of goods to Kaliningrad. 

Lithuania has been hit by a cyberattack that temporarily knocked out public and private websites in the country, with officials saying Russia is ‘probably’ to blame 

Vladimir Putin 's allies have threatened Lithuania after the NATO country blocked EU-sanctioned goods from reaching the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad

Vladimir Putin ‘s allies have threatened Lithuania after the NATO country blocked EU-sanctioned goods from reaching the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad

Russian hacker group Killnet claimed responsibility on Monday for the distributed-denial-of-service (DDOS) attack on Lithuania, which targeted a secure national network (file image)

Russian hacker group Killnet claimed responsibility on Monday for the distributed-denial-of-service (DDOS) attack on Lithuania, which targeted a secure national network (file image)

History of Kaliningrad 

The latest diplomatic crisis between Moscow and the West is over the Russian territory of Kaliningrad, a port on the Baltic Sea that is home to nearly a million Russians and connected to the rest of Russia by a rail link through EU- and NATO-member Lithuania. 

Kaliningrad was formerly the German port city of Koenigsberg, capital of East Prussia, after being founded in 1255.

For centuries, it remained a German city and eventually came under the control of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

But the city was captured from the Nazis by the Red Army in April 1945 and ceded to the Soviet Union after the Second World War.

The Soviet Union renamed the city Kaliningrad in 1946. The city was rebuilt and became a major industrial and commercial centre. 

The German population of Kaliningrad was evicted from the city in 1947 and settled in what was then East and West Germany.

Thousands of people from Russia and Belarus moved to the city, which was designated as a ‘closed military zone’ by the communist authorities. This meant that the city was closed to foreigners until 1991. 

In order to increase investment in Kaliningrad, the Soviet Union created a special economic zone that exempts most imported and exported goods from customs duties. It meant that trade could easily be moved from Kaliningrad to Russia via Lithuania and Belarus.  

The State Tax Inspectorate and Migration Department were among the public agencies forced to suspend online services for several hours due to the cyber attack. They came online again later the same day.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence said that it was ‘likely that similar attacks will continue in the coming days, especially in the transport, energy and financial sectors.’

It added that the ‘most severe attacks’ have been managed and services restored. 

Lithuania had begun to see signs of an attack as early as June 21, Abukevicius said.

The ban on goods under European Union sanctions was announced by Lithuanian authorities earlier this month and prompted a flurry of angry retorts from Moscow, with the Kremlin denouncing the move as unprecedented and unlawful.

The Kremlin said on Wednesday that the EU sanctions that led Lithuania to block the transit of some goods to Kaliningrad were ‘absolutely unacceptable’, and that Moscow was working on retaliatory measures.

Moscow has accused Lithuania and the EU of violating international agreements, threatening a ‘non-diplomatic’ response. Local authorities in Lithuania had warned that cyberattacks were likely to follow.

Lithuania has shut the route to steel and other ferrous metals, which it says it is required to do under EU sanctions that took effect on Saturday, imposed in response to Russia’s decision to send its armed forces into Ukraine.

Kaliningrad is connected to the rest of Russia by a rail link through Lithuania, a member of the EU and NATO.

‘We are convinced that the illegal sanctions adopted by the European Union are absolutely unacceptable in this situation,’ Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in a call with reporters, adding that countermeasures were being prepared.

Earlier on Wednesday, foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Russia’s retaliation would not be exclusively diplomatic but also practical. She also did not elaborate.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said on Tuesday: ‘Russia will certainly respond to such hostile actions. Relevant measures are being worked out in the interdepartmental format and will be taken in the near future.’

‘Their consequences will have a serious negative impact on the population of Lithuania,’ Patrushev, a former KGB spy, added.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov meanwhile warned that all trust has now evaporated between the West and Moscow.

‘Relations between Russia and the West will not be back to the previous level, because Moscow will never again trust such ‘partners’,’ he told MSNBC. ‘It will be a lengthy crisis, but we will never trust the West again.’

Freight cars stand on the railroad tracks of the freight station in Kaliningrad on Tuesday

Freight cars stand on the railroad tracks of the freight station in Kaliningrad on Tuesday

The Lithuanian government stressed in a written statement Tuesday that ‘the transit of passengers and non-sanctioned goods to and from the Kaliningrad region through Lithuania continues uninterrupted,’ and that the ban on transit of sanctioned goods was merely part the fourth package of EU sanctions against Russia.

Top Lithuanian officials decried Russia’s reaction to the measure as an attempt by the Kremlin to wind up a propaganda campaign trying to create an image of a ‘blockade’ mainly for internal consumption.

‘It’s ironic to hear rhetoric about alleged violations of international treaties from a country which has violated possibly every single international treaty,’ Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte told reporters.

‘There is no Kaliningrad blockade,’ Simonyte said. ‘Lithuania is implementing EU sanctions.’



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