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‘Be afraid’: Ukraine hit by cyberattack as Russia moves more troops

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A laptop screen displays a warning message in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish, that appeared on the official website of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry after a massive cyberattack, in this illustration taken January 14, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/Illustration

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  • Kyiv says around 70 government sites hit by cyberattack
  • «Drumbeat of war is sounding loud» says U.S. diplomat
  • Moscow says it could take military action unless demands met
  • NATO says it will sign cyber cooperation pact with Kyiv

KYIV/MOSCOW, Jan 14 (Reuters) – Ukraine was hit by a cyberattack splashing a warning across government websites to «be afraid and expect the worst», while Russia, which has massed 100,000 troops on its neighbour’s frontier, released pictures of more of its forces on the move.

The cyber attack unfolded hours after talks wrapped up with no breakthrough between Russia and Western allies, which fear Moscow could launch a new military assault on a country it invaded in 2014.

«The drumbeat of war is sounding loud,» Michael Carpenter, U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said at the close of talks on Thursday. read more

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Russia denies plans to attack Ukraine but says it could take unspecified military action unless its demands are met, including a promise by the NATO alliance never to admit Kyiv.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that Russia hoped security talks with the United States would resume but that this would depend on Washington’s response to Moscow’s proposals.

«We categorically will not accept the appearance of NATO right on our borders, especially so given the current course of the Ukrainian leadership,» he said.

Asked what Moscow meant by threatening this week to take «military-technical action» if talks fail, Lavrov said: «Measures to deploy military hardware, that is obvious. When we take decisions with military hardware we understand what we mean and what we are preparing for.»

Russian Defence Ministry footage released by RIA news agency showed armoured vehicles and other military hardware being loaded onto trains in Russia’s far east, in what Moscow called an inspection drill to practice long-range deployments.

«This is likely cover for the units being moved towards Ukraine,» said Rob Lee, a military analyst and a fellow at the U.S.-based Foreign Policy Research Institute.

«EXPECT THE WORST»

Ukrainian officials were investigating the huge cyberattack, which they said hit around 70 internet sites of government bodies including the ministry of foreign affairs, cabinet of ministers, and security and defence council.

Though they avoided directly accusing Moscow, they made clear they suspected Russia. Russia did not comment but has previously denied being behind cyber attacks, including against Ukraine.

«Ukrainian! All your personal data was uploaded to the public network. All data on the computer is destroyed, it is impossible to restore it,» said a message visible on hacked government websites, written in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish.

«All information about you has become public, be afraid and expect the worst. This is for your past, present and future.»

NATO responded by announcing that it would sign a new agreement within days with Kyiv on closer cooperation in cyber defence, including giving Ukraine access to the Western military alliance’s system for sharing information on malicious software.

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement that NATO cyber experts were already working with the Ukrainian authorities to respond to the attack, both remotely from Brussels headquarters and on the ground in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry spokesperson told Reuters it was too early to say who could be behind the attack but Russia had been behind similar strikes in the past.

The Ukrainian government said it had restored most of the affected sites and no personal data had been stolen.

Ukraine’s military intelligence also accused Moscow of preparing «provocations» against Russian troops based in a breakaway region of neighbouring Moldova, which could be used as a pretext to invade Ukraine on a new front to the west.

The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, condemned the cyber attack and said the EU’s political and security committee and cyber units would meet to see how to help Kyiv: «I can’t blame anybody as I have no proof, but we can imagine.»

The message left by the cyberattack was peppered with references that echoed long-running Russian state allegations, rejected by Kyiv, that Ukraine is in the thrall of far-right nationalist groups. It also referred to the sites of killings carried out in Nazi German-occupied Poland by Ukrainian insurgents, a point of contention between Poland and Ukraine.

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Additional reporting by Matthias Williams in Kyiv, Anton Kolodyazhnyy, Tom Balmforth and Andrew Osborn in Moscow, Sabine Siebold and John Irish in Brest, France; Writing by Mark Trevelyan and Peter Graff; Editing by Alison Williams and Hugh Lawson

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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Actress Regina King’s son Ian Alexander Jr. has died at 26: «Our family is devastated at the deepest level»

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Regina King’s 26-year-old son, Ian Alexander Jr., has died, a spokesperson for the actor confirmed Saturday morning. 

«Our family is devastated at the deepest level by the loss of Ian,» the statement read. «He is such a bright light who cared so deeply about the happiness of others. Our family asks for respectful consideration during this private time.»

Alexander Jr. — King’s only child, whom she shared with ex-husband Ian Alexander Sr. — died by suicide, a spokesperson confirmed to The Associated Press.

The two were very close, with Alexander Jr. often accompanying his mother on the red carpet. They even had matching tattoos reading «unconditional love» in Aramaic, the AP reported.

Last year, Alexander Jr. posted a tribute to his mother on her birthday, writing, «To be able to watch you take this lifetime by its neck and make it yours is something i will forever be grateful for. But to have you as my mother is the greatest gift I could ask for. To be all that you are while always having the time to be there, love and support me unconditionally is truly remarkable.»

Alexander Jr. was a DJ who went by desduné. He had just recently released a song called «Green Eyes,» which King posted about on her Instagram last week. According to Alexander Jr.’s Instagram, he had a show scheduled for January 28 in Los Angeles.

King is known for her roles in the movie «If Beale Street Could Talk» and on the television show «Watchmen.» She also directed the 2020 film «One Night in Miami…» She has won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, four Primetime Emmy Awards and two NAACP Image Awards over the course of her more than 30-year career.





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German navy chief resigns over Putin comments

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Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht visits the navy base in Warnemuende, Germany, December 17, 2021. Bernd Wuestneck/Pool via REUTERS

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BERLIN, Jan 22 (Reuters) – Germany’s navy chief stepped down on Saturday after drawing criticism for saying Russian President Vladimir Putin deserved respect and that Kyiv would never win back annexed Crimea from Moscow.

«I have asked Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht to relieve me from my duties with immediate effect,» Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schoenbach said in a statement. «The minister has accepted my request.»

Schoenbach made the remarks to a think-tank discussion in India on Friday, and video was published on social media. The comments came at a sensitive time as Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops on Ukraine’s borders.

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Diplomatic efforts are focused on preventing an escalation. Russia denies it is planning to invade Ukraine.

In New Delhi, Schoenbach, speaking in English, said Putin seeks to be treated as an equal by the West.

«What he (Putin) really wants is respect,» Schoenbach said.

«And my God, giving someone respect is low cost, even no cost… It is easy to give him the respect he really demands – and probably also deserves,» Schoenbach said, calling Russia an old and important country.

Schoenbach conceded Russia’s actions in Ukraine needed to be addressed. But he added that «the Crimea peninsula is gone, it will never come back, this is a fact,» contradicting the joint Western position that Moscow’s annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 cannot be accepted and must be reversed.

Prior to Schoenbach’s resignation, the defence ministry publicly criticised his remarks, saying they did not reflect Germany’s position in either content or wording.

Schoenbach apologized for his comments.

«My rash remarks in India … are increasingly putting a strain on my office,» he said. «I consider this step (the resignation) necessary to avert further damage to the German navy, the German forces, and, in particular, the Federal Republic of Germany.»

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry had called on Germany to publicly reject the navy chief’s comments. Schoenbach’s comments could impair Western efforts to de-escalate the situation, Ukraine said in a statement.

«Ukraine is grateful to Germany for the support it has already provided since 2014, as well as for the diplomatic efforts to resolve the Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict. But Germany’s current statements are disappointing and run counter to that support and effort,» Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said separately in tweet.

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Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Editing by Catherine Evans and Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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Butler announces retirement

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Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler announced his retirement on Saturday evening in a statement released by the team.

«It is an emotional day as I announce I am retiring from my football coaching career,» said Butler. «I have spent every year since 1990 as a coach in the NFL and the NCAA, but the time is right for me to walk away after a successful career both playing and coaching the game I love.

«I want to thank the Rooney Family, Bill Cowher, Mike Tomlin and all the coaches and players that I have been involved with over my entire coaching career. I look forward to spending more time with my family, whom have been so supportive of me throughout the years. I wish nothing but the best to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and I will be cheering them on during my retirement.»

Butler served as the team’s defensive coordinator since being promoted to that role in January 2015. He had previously served as the team’s linebackers coach for 12 seasons from 2003-14. Butler was a part of two Super Bowl winning teams with the Steelers (Super Bowl XL and Super Bowl XLIII).

The Steelers lead, or tied for the lead, in overall sacks for the last five years under Butler, setting an NFL record in 2020 when they did it a league-high four years in a row.

In 2020 the Steelers broke an NFL record with a streak of 70 games with at least one sack, breaking the record set by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 69 straight games with at least one sack (1999-2003). The team extended the streak to 75 games, which is still the NFL record.

He came to the Steelers after an NFL coaching career that began with the Cleveland Browns (1999-2002) and before that in the college ranks at Arkansas State (1998) and Memphis (1990-97).

Butler played in the NFL for 10 seasons (1978-87) for the Seattle Seahawks.

Butler was a three-year starter at inside linebacker for the University of Memphis, leading the team in tackles his junior and senior seasons and being named as Associated Press All-American in 1977.



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