No sign of de-escalation from Russia so far: NATO chief

New Delhi: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has said that it has not seen any sign of de-escalation on the ground from the Russian side with regard to Ukraine.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels, “We haven’t seen any de-escalation so far by Russia on the borders with Ukraine,” BBC reported.

But, he added, “signs” coming from Moscow about diplomatic efforts give “some reason for cautious optimism”.

Stoltenberg says a real de-escalation would mean a substantial withdrawal of Russian troops and military equipment from the border areas with Ukraine, the report said.

“Russia has amassed a fighting force in and around Ukraine, which is unprecedented since the Cold War. Everything is now in place for a new attack,” he said.

“But Russia still has time to step back from the brink, stop preparing for war and start working for a peaceful solution,” Stoltenberg added.

He added that there are signs from Moscow that diplomacy should continue. This gives grounds for cautious optimism. But so far we have not seen any sign of de-escalation on the ground from the Russian side,” BBC reported.

Stoltenberg spoke to reporters ahead of a two-day meeting of the alliance’s defense ministers in Brussels. He said they will address the need to further “increase our defensive posture”.

Indians asked to leave Ukraine

India has asked its nationals in Ukraine, especially students, to consider leaving and to avoid non-essential travel within the eastern European country amid persisting tensions over the build-up of Russian troops on the border and fears of an imminent invasion.

There are more than 20,000 Indians in Ukraine, including professionals, businessmen, and some 18,000 students. Some students have expressed concern about the uncertainty prevailing in Ukraine during recent interactions with Indian TV news channels.

An advisory issued by the Indian embassy in Kyiv said: “In view of the uncertainties of the current situation in Ukraine, Indian nationals in Ukraine, particularly students whose stay is not essential, may consider leaving temporarily.”

It added, “Indian nationals are also advised to avoid all non-essential travel to and within Ukraine”.

Ukrainian Ambassador to India Igor Polikha said the situation in Ukraine is difficult but not critical, and there is no immediate reason for mass evacuation of Indian students in the country

Cyberattack hits Ukrainian govt sites, major banks

A cyberattack hit the websites of Ukrainian government agencies and major banks on February 15, Ukrainian authorities said.

At least 10 Ukrainian websites stopped working due to DDOS attacks, including those of the Defence Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Culture Ministry, and Ukraine’s two largest state banks.

The Ukrainian Information Ministry suggested Russia could be behind the incident without providing details. “It is possible that the aggressor resorted to tactics of petty mischief because his aggressive plans aren’t working overall,” the statement said.

Russia launched one of the most devastating cyberattacks ever on Ukraine in 2017 with the NotPetya virus, causing over $10 billion in damage worldwide. The virus, also disguised as ransomware, was a so-called “wiper” that scrubbed entire networks.

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