The White House has redoubled this Monday the Western diplomatic front against the war in Ukraine through a telephone conference between President Joe Biden and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron; the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and the prime ministers of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, and Italy, Mario Draghi. The purpose of the call, which comes two days before Biden travels to Europe to address the situation with allies on the spot, was to “discuss coordinated responses to Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked attack on Ukraine.”
According to the statement released by the White House, “the leaders shared their deep concern about Russia’s brutal tactics in Ukraine, including its attacks on civilians. [Los cinco] They underscored their continued support for Ukraine, providing security assistance to the brave Ukrainians defending their country from Russian aggression and humanitarian aid to the millions who have fled violence. The leaders also reviewed recent diplomatic efforts in support of Ukraine’s effort to reach a ceasefire,” the text laconically explains.
In Brussels, Biden will participate this Thursday in an extraordinary NATO summit, in which all of them will coincide, as well as in the European Council. The only one who will not be present will be Johnson. The Democratic president, who is attending as a guest, will also attend a meeting of the G-7. On Friday and Saturday he will travel to Poland, where he will have a brief meeting with his counterpart, Andrzej Duda.
Since the start of the war almost a month ago, Biden has been in regular contact with European leaders several times a week. In addition to the aforementioned leaders, on some occasions the president of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, and the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, have joined the video calls.
As the conflict drags on – this Thursday will be a month after the invasion – among the concerns of the US and its allies is the unpredictable response from Moscow, which has found much more resistance in Ukraine than expected. For this reason, among the potential threats they contemplate, the possibility of a new barrage of cyberattacks to juggle basic infrastructure in the West stands out. Before speaking with European leaders, Biden warned on Monday that Moscow could redouble its cyberattacks against US strategic targets due to the “unprecedented economic cost that we have imposed on Russia,” he said, referring to the battery of sanctions adopted against the Kremlin.
Biden’s warning came as the White House recommended that companies providing essential services bolster their cyber defense “due to ongoing digital threats from Russia,” said Ane Neuberger, the White House’s chief cybersecurity officer. The US government has seen a “preparatory hacking activity [de Rusia] against numerous US companies”, although “he is not certain” that the attacks will take place. The potential threat is based on “updated intelligence data,” the official said. The Administration has recently given briefings to hundreds of companies that may be targeted by Russian hackers. The attacks against one of the largest oil pipelines in the country, last May, and an important meat processing plant, a month later, showed the vulnerability of critical infrastructures for the supply of energy and food in the country. Both were attributed to Russian hackers.
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