UN publishes assessment on damage to Ukraine’s telecommunications infrastructure caused by Russia

Published at : 09 Jan 2023 02:35 PM (IST)

According to a report that was released by a United Nations agency on Friday, it is alleged that Russia “destroyed completely or seized” networks in certain regions of Ukraine. The report states that in order for Ukraine to restore its telecommunications sector to the levels it had before the war, it will require at least $1.79 billion.

The long-awaited and sensitive damage assessment conducted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Geneva was commissioned in April to determine the extent to which Ukraine’s communication networks were destroyed as a direct result of Russia’s invasion in February of this year. This assessment had been long anticipated.

According to the findings of the analysis, which span the first six months of the conflict, there was significant damage and destruction to the communications infrastructure in more than ten out of the 24 regions of Ukraine. According to the report, “Since the beginning of military attacks, with the purpose of using the facilities in its interests and for its own needs, the aggressor has either completely destroyed or seized the regular operation of public and private terrestrial telecommunication and critical infrastructure in the temporarily occupied and war-affected territories of Ukraine.” This information was included in the report.

In addition to this, it claims that there have been 1,123 cyber assaults directed against Ukraine and that Moscow unilaterally altered Ukrainian dialling codes that had been established by a United Nations body to Russian ones. An official working for the Russian diplomatic mission in Geneva has disputed the claims made in the report, claiming that they are an attempt to deflect attention away from “atrocities” perpetrated by Ukraine on land that is now controlled by the Russian Federation. A request for comment that was sent to the foreign ministry in Moscow was not immediately met with a response.

Since Russia’s takeover of Crimea in 2014, it has conducted cyberattacks on Ukraine on a consistent basis. These assaults, which were carried out against government and financial websites, ramped up prior to Russia’s deployment of soldiers into Ukraine in the previous year. Russia has denied involvement in such strikes as well as previous attacks.
Late in December, the report from the United Nations, which contains information and statistics up to August, was discreetly uploaded in a section of the website for the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). On Friday afternoon, in response to questions that had been asked, a spokeswoman for Reuters brought it to the news organization’s notice. Western diplomats have been heard venting their irritation in private about the prolonged delay in the disclosure of the report.

According to a letter that was reviewed by Reuters, the European Union sent a letter to China’s Houlin Zhao, who was serving as Secretary-General of the ITU at the time, requesting the document’s release in September. A few days later, Zhao sent a response in which he said that the damage assessment was still in progress, as shown by the answer.

The ITU has not made any statements in the public domain on the findings. When questioned by Reuters about the length of time that passed between the end of the reporting period and the publishing of the report, ITU said that the report was made public on December 23 “when it was pronounced complete by the management.” The ITU said that the findings of its evaluation will contribute to the coordination of technical support for Ukraine. The organisation, which has its headquarters in Geneva and was established in 1865, is responsible for allocating radio airwaves and satellite orbits on a worldwide scale as well as establishing standards for artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies.

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