Kamala Harris goes to Munich Conference as artillery fired in Ukraine amid fears of Russian invasion

Kamala Harris goes to Munich Conference as artillery fired in Ukraine amid fears of Russian invasion

 Showing no sign he will allow tensions to subside, Vladimir Putin demanded on Thursday that the U.S. remove all of its forces from Eastern and Central Europe and expelled U.S. Deputy Ambassador Bartle Gorman from Russia.

Kamala Harris left for the Munich Conference on Thursday morning to take the spotlight in Europe as artillery rang out in Ukraine and the Pentagon warned there is still no sign Putin has pulled back his troops.

A senior administration official said that the vice president will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky this weekend while at the conference. She’s expected to lay out the economic sanctions that are prepped for Russia if Vladimir Putin stages an invasion and other diplomatic paths to de-escalation.  

President Biden tapped Harris with handling the high-stakes meetings last week. 

‘Her reason for going to Munich is to meet with what we think is over three dozen heads of state who will be there. She will hold these highest-level meetings to consult with them,’ the official said.  

After Putin claimed he would withdraw forces from the Ukraine border earlier this week, Biden officials said they actually saw evidence to the contrary. 

‘We see them add to the more than 150,000 troops they already have,’ Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin. ‘Even in the last couple days.’ 

‘We see some of those troops edge closer to that border. We see them fly in more combat and support air craft. We see them sharpen their readiness in the Black Sea. We even see them stocking up their blood supplies,’ Austin said. 

‘You don’t do these things for no reason. You certainly don’t do them if you’re getting ready to pack up and go home,’ the secretary said. 

On Friday Harris is set to meet with NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg and have a multilateral meeting with the leaders of the Baltic nations – Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.  

‘(In) both of these meetings, she will discuss the latest developments related to Russia’s buildup on Ukraine’s border, our work together on deterrence and diplomacy, our force posture, and our readiness to further reinforce NATO allies on the eastern flank,’ the senior administration official said.

The VP will also hold a separate meeting with members of Congress who are attending the trip. 

Kamala Harris left for the Munich Conference on Thursday morning to take the spotlight in Europe as artillery rang out in Ukraine and the Pentagon warned there is still no sign Vladimir Putin has pulled back his troops

Kamala Harris left for the Munich Conference on Thursday morning to take the spotlight in Europe as artillery rang out in Ukraine and the Pentagon warned there is still no sign Vladimir Putin has pulled back his troops

President Biden tapped Harris with handling the high-stakes meetings last week

President Biden tapped Harris with handling the high-stakes meetings last week

Meanwhile, Sec. of State Antony Blinken switched up his plans to travel to Munich so that he could address the United Nations Security Council meeting Thursday before heading to the conference. 

‘Our goal is to convey the gravity of the situation. The evidence on the ground is that Russia is moving toward an imminent invasion. This is a crucial moment. Today’s Council meeting should not distract us from that. It should focus on what is happening right now in Ukraine,’ UN Amb. Linda Thomas-Greenfield wrote on Twitter, announcing she’d asked Blinken to make the stop in New York. 

Artillery fire rang out in eastern Ukraine Thursday as Kiev’s forces and Moscow-backed rebels each blamed the other for the shooting, as NATO warned Russia is trying to stage a pretext for the invasion of Ukraine. 

A kindergarten in the village of Stanytsia Luhanska was struck first – around 9am local time – with Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba saying rebels shelled the building which is located close to the frontline on Kiev’s side. The military said two civilians were hurt and half the settlement left without electricity. 

Around an hour later Ukraine reported more shelling at Popasna – around 50 miles from Stanytsia Luhanska – saying that a school and a two nearby houses were hit. No injuries were immediately reported.

But Russian rebels attempted to flip the script, claiming Ukrainian troops had actually fired at them as pro-Kremlin social media accounts claimed the kindergarten was on their side of the frontline. 

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and UK defence secretary Liz Tuss both spoke out to accuse Moscow of trying to stage a false flag operation to justify an invasion – fears that worsened as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov issued a statement blaming Ukraine for the attacks and calling for Kiev to step back. 

‘This is a matter of very deep concern,’ Peskov said on Thursday morning. ‘We hope that our opponents from Western capitals, from Washington, from NATO, will use all their influence to warn the Kiev authorities against further escalation.’

Meanwhile video emerged purporting to show a thick column of smoke rising from the Russian embassy in Kiev, raising fears that sensitive documents are being burned before diplomats evacuate.

Elsewhere satellite images showed a new pontoon bridge has been built hundreds of miles away across the Pripyat River in Belarus, close to Chernobyl and around 80 miles north of Kiev amid fears it could be used as an invasion route. It is located close to where Russian tanks and artillery units have been taking part in training drills.

Artillery has opened fire in eastern Ukraine as pictures of a partially-destroyed kindergarten building emerged, with both Kiev's forces and Russia-backed rebels accusing the other of destroying it

Artillery has opened fire in eastern Ukraine as pictures of a partially-destroyed kindergarten building emerged, with both Kiev’s forces and Russia-backed rebels accusing the other of destroying it

Ukraine's armed forces issued this image of the kindergarten before it was struck by artillery early on Thursday

Ukraine’s armed forces issued this image of the kindergarten before it was struck by artillery early on Thursday

Ukraine's ministry of defence issued images of the damaged building early Thursday, saying it is located in Stanytsia Luhanska and was hit by shells fired by Russian rebels. Pro-Moscow accounts then picked up the same images, but claimed the building is actually on their side of the frontline and was hit by Kiev's men

Ukraine’s ministry of defence issued images of the damaged building early Thursday, saying it is located in Stanytsia Luhanska and was hit by shells fired by Russian rebels. Pro-Moscow accounts then picked up the same images, but claimed the building is actually on their side of the frontline and was hit by Kiev’s men

Around an hour after the kindergarten was shelled, Ukraine reported another attack which hit a school in Popasna along with two nearby houses and a water pipe

Around an hour after the kindergarten was shelled, Ukraine reported another attack which hit a school in Popasna along with two nearby houses and a water pipe

Above wreckage from the Popasna attack is pictured

Above wreckage from the Popasna attack is pictured 

But Russian rebels attempted to flip the script, claiming Ukrainian troops had actually fired at them as pro-Kremlin social media accounts claimed the kindergarten was on their side of the frontline

But Russian rebels attempted to flip the script, claiming Ukrainian troops had actually fired at them as pro-Kremlin social media accounts claimed the kindergarten was on their side of the frontline

From Ukrainian Security Services: Today at about 9 am, the Russian forces fired on the village of Luhansk, one of the shells hit a kindergarten, and at that time there were children in it.According to preliminary data, no children were injured, but two teachers of the institution suffered minor injuries.

From Ukrainian Security Services: Today at about 9 am, the Russian forces fired on the village of Luhansk, one of the shells hit a kindergarten, and at that time there were children in it.According to preliminary data, no children were injured, but two teachers of the institution suffered minor injuries. 

Kamala Harris goes to Munich Conference as artillery fired in Ukraine amid fears of Russian invasion A view shows helicopters during the "Allied Resolve" military exercises held by the armed forces of Russia and Belarus at the Osipovichsky training ground in the Mogilev region, Belarus

A view shows helicopters during the “Allied Resolve” military exercises held by the armed forces of Russia and Belarus at the Osipovichsky training ground in the Mogilev region, Belarus

A view shows helicopters during the "Allied Resolve" military exercises on Feb. 17

A view shows helicopters during the “Allied Resolve” military exercises on Feb. 17 

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko attends the "Allied Resolve" military exercises held by the armed forces of Russia and Belarus at the Osipovichsky training ground

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko attends the “Allied Resolve” military exercises held by the armed forces of Russia and Belarus at the Osipovichsky training ground

Troops movement in the areas close to Ukrainian border spotted by local residents. Belgorod region. Troops movement in the areas close to Ukrainian border spotted by local residents. Kursk region

Footage uploaded to Russian social media accounts shows tanks and other armoured vehicles on the move in Belgorod (left) and Kursk (right), both located in Russia but close to Ukrainian territory

A Russian attack helicopter is pictured landing in Belgorod, around 20 miles north of the Ukraine border

A Russian attack helicopter is pictured landing in Belgorod, around 20 miles north of the Ukraine border

A satellite image reveals that a new pontoon bridge has been constructed across the Pripyat River in Belarus (left), around 80 miles north of Kiev amid fears it could be used to provide an attack route to the capital

A satellite image reveals that a new pontoon bridge has been constructed across the Pripyat River in Belarus (left), around 80 miles north of Kiev amid fears it could be used to provide an attack route to the capital 

Kamala Harris goes to Munich Conference as artillery fired in Ukraine amid fears of Russian invasion Kamala Harris goes to Munich Conference as artillery fired in Ukraine amid fears of Russian invasion

Before and after images show how the bridge has been constructed in recent days, providing a route for Russian tanks to cross the river and advance south towards Kiev

Other images revealed a huge movement of forces across Belarus, Russia and occupied Crimea. Some showed camps once full of Russian tanks have emptied, others showed new build-ups of attack helicopters and vehicles, while more showed tanks and artillery pieces formed up in convoy and getting ready to move.

It comes amid warnings from NATO and Washington that Putin is not withdrawing troops from Ukraine’s borders as he has claimed, but is instead moving forces closer and continuing to build up troop numbers, with an extra 7,000 arriving yesterday and today.

There are now thought to be around 150,000 troops backed by tanks, artillery, attack helicopters and fighter jets stationed near Ukraine – more than half of Russia’s total ground forces – which are at a high level of readiness and could invade at short notice, according to Western allies. 

Around 20 Russian warships started drills in the Caspian Sea on Thursday, Russia’s defence ministry said, part of broader war games involving most of its army and navy.  

Putin claimed earlier this week that ‘genocide’ is underway against Russians in Donbas, an unsubstantiated claim that was immediately followed by reports in state media outlets of the discovery of ‘mass graves’ dating back to 2014 when Moscow last invaded.

Kamala Harris goes to Munich Conference as artillery fired in Ukraine amid fears of Russian invasion

The White House has been warning for weeks that such claims could be used to justify a Russian attack, with State Department spokesman Ned Price saying: ‘Over the past several weeks, we’ve also seen Russian officials plant numerous stories in the press, any one of which could be elevated to serve as a pretext for an invasion.’

Those claims, which have spread on social media, include genocide, mass graves and the potential of the Ukrainian government to use chemical weapons against the people of Donbass. 

‘There is no basis of truth to any of these allegations,’ Price said. ‘These are false narratives that Russia is developing for use as a pretext for military action against Ukraine.’

It comes after Russia’s rubber-stamp Duma parliament passed a resolution earlier this week calling on Putin to officially recognise the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states and take measures to help them defend themselves.

The Kremlin has, for now, resisted the calls – saying it would violate the ceasefire agreements currently in place in the region. But there are fears it opens the door for Putin to quickly change his mind and move troops in. 

Satellite images released overnight show Russia has moved some of its military equipment that was deployed near Ukraine, but other hardware has arrived and Moscow still has a lot of forces and equipment in the region. 

In Crimea, from where Russia has shown videos of it pulling out tanks and military equipment, Maxar pointed to armoured vehicles positioned at the Yevpatoria railyard that could be preparing to depart.

Troops and equipment remained deployed, however, at other sites on the peninsula that Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014, including the Opuk training area, and sites at Lake Donuzlav and Novoozernoye, it said.

In Belarus, where Russia is holding exercises, Maxar pointed to a new military pontoon bridge over the Pripyat river less than six kilometres from the border with Ukraine, and a large new field hospital at one training site.

At an airfield in Belarus, a new unit of nearly 20 attack helicopters had been deployed, but significant troop and ground forces units recently deployed there had departed and were unaccounted for, Maxar said. 

Smoke billows from Russian embassy in Kyiv: are they destroying documents?

Smoke billows from Russian embassy in Kyiv: are they destroying documents?

Another satellite showed the construction of a large field hospital (brown tents, centre of the image) at the Osipovichi training area in Belarus, raising fears an invasion could be imminent

Another satellite showed the construction of a large field hospital (brown tents, centre of the image) at the Osipovichi training area in Belarus, raising fears an invasion could be imminent 

Russian vehicles formed up in convoy are shown driving down a highway in Belarus (top), heading west and further into the country despite Vladimir Putin's claims to be pulling troops back

Russian vehicles formed up in convoy are shown driving down a highway in Belarus (top), heading west and further into the country despite Vladimir Putin’s claims to be pulling troops back

Newly-deployed attack helicopters are seen at Zyabrovka airfield near Gomel in Belarus, a short distance from Ukraine

Newly-deployed attack helicopters are seen at Zyabrovka airfield near Gomel in Belarus, a short distance from Ukraine

Russian artillery remains deployed near Brest, Belarus, despite dictator Alexander Lukashenko saying that all Russian military units would leave when training drills were over

Russian artillery remains deployed near Brest, Belarus, despite dictator Alexander Lukashenko saying that all Russian military units would leave when training drills were over

Russian artillery units are shown loaded on to a train near Brest, Belarus, amid a huge movement of forces along the Ukraine border - with Putin claiming he is withdrawing by the West saying he is actually moving troops closer

Russian artillery units are shown loaded on to a train near Brest, Belarus, amid a huge movement of forces along the Ukraine border – with Putin claiming he is withdrawing by the West saying he is actually moving troops closer

Russian state media has been pushing claims that civilian 'mass graves' have been uncovered in Donbas dating back to the last time Russia invaded, in 2014, which

Russian state media has been pushing claims that civilian ‘mass graves’ have been uncovered in Donbas dating back to the last time Russia invaded, in 2014, which 

An image put out by Russian state media purporting to show bodies of civilians exhumed from a mass grave in Donbas being reburied in what the US warns could be a false flag to justify an invasion

An image put out by Russian state media purporting to show bodies of civilians exhumed from a mass grave in Donbas being reburied in what the US warns could be a false flag to justify an invasion

Troops and armoured equipment were still deployed at other sites and were training. Most of the equipment and troop housing area that had been present near Rechitsa in southeast Belarus has departed and was unaccounted for, it said, adding that a military convoy was seen heading west.

Speaking Thursday morning, UK  Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said that intelligence he has seen over the last 48 hours indicates Russia is continuing to build its forces near Ukraine. 

‘You saw overnight that the US administration has briefed out that a further 7,000 are moving towards the border,’ he told the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme.

‘Those aren’t necessarily numbers that we’ve been able to verify for ourselves, but certainly the trend is that more is moving towards Ukraine rather than away from it, and we’re concerned that that’s the case.’ 

Asked on Times Radio whether Moscow was ‘lying’ about withdrawing from the area around the border, he added: ‘I would offer that we have seen intelligence – open source intelligence – over the last few days that clearly shows the build-up of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border continues.

‘That there are more moving to the area than people moving away, and that the key combat enablers that we saw moved towards the Ukrainian border over the last few days now include bridges having been built and a number of other things, suggest the final preparations are being made for them to invade.’

Asked whether he was saying Moscow was ‘ramping up’ preparations for an incursion rather than moving back, Mr Heappey replied: ‘That’s exactly what I believe to be happening, yes.’

A senior U.S. administration official said some forces arrived only recently and that there had been a marked increase in false claims by Russians that the Kremlin might use as pretext for an invasion. 

The official said those claims included reports of unmarked graves of civilians allegedly killed by Ukrainian forces, assertions that the U.S. and Ukraine are developing biological or chemical weapons, and claims that the West is funneling in guerrillas to kill Ukrainians.

The official was not authorized to speak publicly about sensitive operations and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The official did not provide underlying evidence for the assertions.

‘We haven’t seen a pullback,’ U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told ABC News. Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘can pull the trigger. He can pull it today. He can pull it tomorrow. He can pull it next week. The forces are there if he wants to renew aggression against Ukraine.’

Asked why Russians would claim to be withdrawing when government intelligence, commercial satellite photos and social media videos showed no evidence of that, State Department spokesman Ned Price said: ‘This is the Russian playbook, to paint a picture publicly . while they do the opposite.’

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace also said there had been an increase of up to 7,000 troops in recent days.

‘We have seen the opposite of some of the statements,’ he said in Brussels. ‘We’re going to judge Russia by their actions and at the moment the troop buildup continues.’

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also said the alliance had not seen ‘any withdrawal of Russian forces.’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy similarly dismissed the Russian claims.

‘What is this? Rotations, withdrawal, returning back again,’ he said on a visit to the southeastern city of Mariupol. ‘It’s too early to rejoice.’

The Ukrainian leader, who has repeatedly sought to project calm and strength during the crisis, declared Wednesday a day of ‘national unity’ – a day that had been floated as a possibility for the start of an invasion.

Ukrainian protesters scuffle with law enforcement officers as entrepreneurs and small business owners demonstrate against fiscal cash registers and to demand government support in front of the parliament in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 17, 2022

Ukrainian protesters scuffle with law enforcement officers as entrepreneurs and small business owners demonstrate against fiscal cash registers and to demand government support in front of the parliament in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 17, 2022

Ukrainian protesters scuffle with law enforcement officers as entrepreneurs and small business owners demonstrate against fiscal cash registers and to demand government support in front of the parliament in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 17, 2022

Ukrainian protesters scuffle with law enforcement officers as entrepreneurs and small business owners demonstrate against fiscal cash registers and to demand government support in front of the parliament in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 17, 2022

Protesters demonstrate outside the Ukrainian parliament against high government taxes in small business in Kyiv on February 17

Protesters demonstrate outside the Ukrainian parliament against high government taxes in small business in Kyiv on February 17

Ukrainian riot police tussle with protesters during demonstration outside the Ukrainian parliament against high government taxes in small business in Kyiv on February 17, 2022

Ukrainian riot police tussle with protesters during demonstration outside the Ukrainian parliament against high government taxes in small business in Kyiv on February 17, 2022

Russian armoured vehicles are shown formed up in convoy at the Yevpatoria garrison in occupied Crimea, amid a huge movement of Putin's forces which he claims is a withdrawal but the West says is a build-up

Russian armoured vehicles are shown formed up in convoy at the Yevpatoria garrison in occupied Crimea, amid a huge movement of Putin’s forces which he claims is a withdrawal but the West says is a build-up

A satellite image shows a Russian military base on the shores of Lake Donuzlav, Crimea, with vehicles formed up in convoy as if preparing to move - though their destination is unclear

A satellite image shows a Russian military base on the shores of Lake Donuzlav, Crimea, with vehicles formed up in convoy as if preparing to move – though their destination is unclear

This satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows an overview of a battlion sized unit in convoy at the Filativka training area, in Crimea

This satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows an overview of a battlion sized unit in convoy at the Filativka training area, in Crimea

Across the country, Ukrainians of all ages waved flags in the streets and from apartment windows.

Hundreds unfolded a 200-meter (650-foot) flag at Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium, while another was draped in the center of a shopping mall in the capital.

In the government-controlled part of Ukraine’s eastern region of Luhansk, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian troops since 2014, residents stretched another huge flag across a street.

‘This event, this number of people united around the Ukrainian flag will show that we stand for united Ukraine,’ resident Olena Tkachova said.

A 2015 deal brokered by France and Germany helped end the worst of the fighting in eastern Ukraine, but implementation has stalled. The deal, known as the Minsk agreement, would offer broad self-rule to the separatist territories and thus is resented by many in Ukraine.

A Ukrainian government official said in a television interview that Zelenskyy would consider holding a referendum on the Minsk agreement ‘if there are no other options or instruments.’ But Vice Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said she was unaware that such an idea was under serious discussion.

The U.N. Security Council is scheduled to hold its annual meeting on the Minsk agreement on Thursday. Russia, which holds the rotating council presidency this month, will chair the meeting. At last year’s council meeting, Russia clashed with the U.S. and its Western allies over the conflict in eastern Ukraine and a similar confrontation is expected this year.

Putin has signaled that he wants a peaceful path out of the crisis. His country has repeatedly complained that the U.S. and NATO have not responded satisfactorily in writing to its security concerns. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Russia is in the final phase of preparing its formal response to the West.

‘After that, a schedule of further steps will be developed,’ she said on state television.

It appeared to be another indication that the Kremlin is determined to keep up the pressure for a while.

Defiant Ukrainians sing and wave flags on their ‘Unity Day’ even as threat of Russian invasion hangs over them, writes IAN BIRRELL

Ukraine celebrated the hastily-declared Unity Day yesterday with passionate words from the president, patriotic events across the land and more than 50 MPs singing the national anthem outside parliament in defiance of the Russian troops massed at their border.

President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded the combative display of patriotism late on Monday to mark the day that Western intelligence had warned might be chosen by the Kremlin to launch an invasion of his country.

Yet the response was muted from his beleaguered fellow citizens – who woke up fearing the worst, waved a few flags and carried on with their lives, trapped wearily in the midst of a destructive geo-political struggle that has gripped them for years.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrives to watch Ukrainian troops take part in a military drill outside the city of Rivne, northern Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrives to watch Ukrainian troops take part in a military drill outside the city of Rivne, northern Ukraine

Ukrainian army soldiers pose for a photo as they gather in Odessa, Ukraine, to celebrate Unity Day on Wednesday

Ukrainian army soldiers pose for a photo as they gather in Odessa, Ukraine, to celebrate Unity Day on Wednesday

The former comedian’s demand led to flags appearing on streets and in windows, school pupils singing the anthem clad in traditional embroidered clothes, special prayers at St Sophia’s Cathedral in Kyiv and Ukrainian films shown in cinemas.

‘We are all different but we are united by one desire – to live in peace, happily, as one family – and we have a right to it because we are at home, we are in Ukraine,’ said Zelensky, during five hours on television showing celebrities and politicians discussing Ukrainian unity in face of the destabilising Russian aggression.

The president, wearing a blue shirt, also published a selfie on Instagram alongside his wife Olena clad in a yellow jersey to reflect Ukraine’s national colours – then asked everyone to post similarly-patriotic pictures on social media.

Some of the country’s best-known football players – including Andriy Yarmolenko of West Ham and Everton’s costly new signing Vitaliy Mykolenko – responded with a video in which they told of their pride in Ukraine.

British ambassador Melinda Simmons tweeted: ‘The UK and Ukraine share fundamental values of peace, freedom, democracy and respect. Our continued support for Ukraine is unwavering.’

Later Zelensky flew to Mariupol – the major port seen as a key possible target for Putin – where he met soldiers on the frontline facing Moscow-backed separatists. ‘It’s a great honour to be a president of such people, of such a state,’ he said.

Lasers and pixel lights shine from five factory chimneys in Ukraine as citizens across the country celebrate the hastily-declared Unity Day

Lasers and pixel lights shine from five factory chimneys in Ukraine as citizens across the country celebrate the hastily-declared Unity Day

A long Ukrainian flag is unfolded at the Olympiyskiy stadium in Kiev after President Volodymyr Zelensky called for a Day of Unity

A long Ukrainian flag is unfolded at the Olympiyskiy stadium in Kiev after President Volodymyr Zelensky called for a Day of Unity

Further along the frontline in Severodonetsk, a town in the government-controlled part of Luhansk region, residents stretched a 650ft blue-and-yellow flag across the street as they marched along in a display of their loyalties.

Zelensky only announced the celebratory day on Monday. But there was no public holiday, dampening the support, while some people said they had not heard about the plan and others had mixed reactions.

‘I don’t see the point of creating this show to please Western politicians,’ said one pensioner in Kyiv.

Others were more enthusiastic. ‘Unity Day helps unite the people,’ said Vladyslav, 19, serving in the National Guard.

Liydmyla, a 48-year-old housewife who said she is avoiding watching the news on television since it made her too ’emotional’, felt her nation needed such events. ‘It’s the right thing to do – we are being attacked, so we need to stay strong and united.’

Earlier the government said the cyber-attack that hit the ministry of defence, armed forces and several major banks on Tuesday was the biggest in Ukraine’s history. It was traced to sources in Russia, China, Czech Republic and Uzbekistan.

The shutdown, which lasted five hours, was backed by a foreign security service, said Ukraine’s cyber-security chief. Russia has denied any responsibility.

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