European Union cyber defense team deploys to help Ukraine

WASHINGTON — Several European Union member states are activating a team of specialists to help Ukraine ward off Russian cyberattacks, which previously accompanied Moscow-ordered kinetic combat.

Lithuania’s Defense Ministry – the lead nation of the Cyber ​​Rapid Response Team project – announced the move on Tuesday, saying the Ukrainian government had requested the help. Croatia, Estonia, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania are also part of the project, sponsored by the EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation initiative in defense and security.

In line with its mission statement, the project provides cyber defense capabilities to EU organizations and “partners”. Teams are equipped with “commonly developed deployable IT toolkits designed to detect, recognize and mitigate cyber threats,” according to the project’s website.

On Tuesday, officials were still evaluating a Ukrainian defense scenario in which the team would operate, including “on-site and remote support,” a defense official at the Lithuanian Embassy in Washington told Defense News.

The Online Rapid Response Teams include eight to twelve cybersecurity experts from all project member states. Specific skills include incident response, forensics and vulnerability assessments, according to the official. Romania has operational control of the teams this year, work that alternates between participants on a rotating basis.

“We also work on cyber with Ukraine on a bilateral basis and are in constant contact and have Ukrainian representatives in our Regional Cyber ​​Defense Center in Lithuania,” the official said.

Ukraine also receives cyber assistance from NATO, although the sponsoring nations of the Estonia-based Cooperative Cyber ​​Defense Center of Excellence last fall declined a Ukrainian request to become a more formal “contributing participant”. .

In that vote, which must be unanimous, Hungary vetoed Ukraine’s candidacy the only time, the Kyiv Post reported earlier this month, quoting Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council. .

Sebastian Sprenger is Europe Editor for Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, as well as US-European cooperation and multinational investments in defense and global security. He was previously editor of Defense News.

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