The Russian-Ukrainian war began even before the invasion of Russian troops on February 24 this year. Initially it was an information war, in which the Russians were busy targeting Ukraine online. For example through advertising.
Since the physical invasion of the Russians, Ukraine has not only been the victim of an information war, the Internet has also suffered. The attacks are perpetrated by hackers and artillery. In particular, vital infrastructure such as telecommunications service providers are a major target.
Due to the increasing digital transformation of the Ukrainian state and society, the Internet and telecommunications are one of the main objectives of the Russo-Ukrainian war. The control of the Internet has thus become one of the main objectives of Russia.
In the first days of the active invasion, the Ukrainian troops and the territorial defense of the civilians fought hard to stop the Russian advance. In my hometown of Irpin, in the Bucha district of the kyiv region, I experienced a powerful explosion that paralyzed the mobile connection of the largest Ukrainian operator, Kyivstar.
Fortunately, there was still Internet from the local ISP, so I immediately contacted Kyivstar representatives and reported the problem. I was informed that as a result of the destruction of the bridge at Irpin, the main cable had been damaged and communications had been lost as a result. Continuous attacks by the Russians prevented workers from reaching the site to carry out repairs.
For about a week, Kyivstar subscribers living in Irpin were without mobile communications. The city was surrounded and the supermarkets quickly sold out. Sometimes they attacked residents trying to get food. I know stories of compatriots who never returned and whose families still do not know if they are still alive.
Due to the loss of the Kyivstar network, payment terminals in stores stopped working. Also, some stores stopped accepting bank cards and ATMs and ATMs stopped accepting and spending money. At the same time, some entrepreneurs showed the most human side of him: a pet store owner sold me a large amount of pet food with the promise that I would transfer the money to his account at home via the Internet.
At the end of the first week without communication, Ukrainian mobile operators agreed to provide domestic roaming services so that subscribers of any of the affected networks could stay in touch.
The Internet quickly became the lifeline of a society divided by curfews, dark windows, and constant air raids. Every Ukrainian’s day began and ended with reading disturbing news in messages on his mobile phone.
The battle over the internet has become one of the main components of the Ukrainian resistance. ICT service provider repairmen are true heroes who day after day, at the risk of their own lives, repair damage to networks to keep systems running. This is the only way people can keep in touch and get information.
This article has been translated from English.
Andrii Maidanyk fled the Ukraine for the Netherlands in April. He was allowed to leave the country to take care of his family. Before fleeing Ukraine, Maidanyk worked as a web journalist and ICT news editor at InternetUA.com, part of one of the largest online publishers, Ukr.net. There he wrote on topics such as electronic commerce, electronic payments, protection of customer rights, government regulation, market statistics, and online fraud.