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Estonian PM: cyberspace is Ukraine war frontline

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas declares cyberspace a critical “frontline” in the Ukraine-Russia war, calling for global collaboration to counter cyber threats and affirming that democratic values, aided by technology, must be upheld.
Kaja Kallas
Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during their meeting in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, on 24 April 2023. Credit: President’s Office of Ukraine.
Estonian PM: cyberspace is Ukraine war frontline

Speaking at the Open Government Partnership Global Summit on Tuesday, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas urged the international community to recognize cyberspace as a critical battlefield in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

“Cyberspace is not a sideshow, but a frontline,” Kallas emphatically stated. Her comments come in the wake of several major cyberattacks on Ukraine, including the January 2022 incident when over 90 Ukrainian government websites were compromised. According to Yurii Shchyhol, head of the State Service of Special Communications responsible for defending Ukraine’s cyberspace, about 20 of these websites were defaced and lost data.

Kallas called for collective action among Ukraine’s allies to “mitigate the threats” posed by Moscow. “Democracies can use technology to win every time, but there is a crucial fourth ingredient, and that is collaboration,” she added. The Estonian leader emphasized that cooperation in defensive fronts like NATO and the European Union is imperative for supporting Ukraine “until victory with weapons financing and know-how” is achieved.

Kallas framed the struggle in Ukraine as a battle for democracy and pointed to threats against democratic governance from digital technologies like AI and Deep Fakes. “There are many prophets of doom telling us that the digital era will accelerate the decline [of democratic societies],” she noted. “Openness is our greatest weapon,” citing open-source investigations such as those conducted by Bellingcat that have been instrumental in highlighting alleged Russian war crimes.

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