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Ukraine crisis. News in brief. Wednesday 21 December. [Ukrainian sources]

on Wed Dec 21, 2016 8:41 am
WEDNESDAY

Please scroll to view news items added during the day.

NEWS:
Kremlin Lashes Out At U.S. Over 'Destructive' Sanctions. Russia vows retaliation against new U.S. sanctions.  Two Ukrainian soldiers killed, four wounded, four shell-shocked yesterday.  U.S. Ambassador: Russia's hybrid war against Ukraine ongoing for 25 years. Two Chechen battalions to be deployed in Syrial.  Dutch Senate poised to ratify Ukraine deal. Kremlin Lashes Out At U.S. Over 'Destructive' Sanctions.  Donbas rebels suffer massive losses.  Lavrov calls Russia-US talks on Syria ‘fruitless get-together’.

WEATHER:
0c 32f HI | RealFeel® -3c / 24f
Precipitation 6%
Patchy low clouds and fog this morning followed by clouds and occasional sunshine
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U.S. Ambassador: Russia's hybrid war against Ukraine ongoing for 25 years

on Wed Dec 21, 2016 8:44 am
U.S. Ambassador: Russia's hybrid war against Ukraine ongoing for 25 years

Ambassador of the United States to Ukraine Marie L. Yovanovitch has said that the so-called "hybrid war" of the Russian Federation against Ukraine began even before this term emerged.

At a Kyiv presentation of the Foreign Policy Audit study, Yovanovitch said that over the 25 years since Ukraine had gained independence, the country remained in a state of a hybrid war with Russia, according to Europeiska Pravda.

Propaganda is among the tools Russia has been exploiting, she noted.......

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Russia vows retaliation against new U.S. sanctions

on Wed Dec 21, 2016 8:46 am
Russia vows retaliation against new U.S. sanctions

Russia will take ‘adequate measures' in response to the new U.S. sanctions, the Kremlin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday, December 21.

Mr. Peskov said Moscow ‘laments' the fact that Washington continues its ‘destructive line' by expanding the restrictions.

‘We still disagree with such a line, we think it cripples our bilateral relations', Peskov told journalists...........

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Kremlin Lashes Out At U.S. Over 'Destructive' Sanctions

on Wed Dec 21, 2016 8:48 am
Kremlin Lashes Out At U.S. Over 'Destructive' Sanctions

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman has criticized the United States for targeting additional individuals and organizations with sanctions over Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine and suggested the Kremlin would respond in kind.

Speaking on December 21, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov expressed "regret" over what he called the "destructive obstinacy on the part of our American colleagues."

He said that the U.S. policy of imposing sanctions "does serious damage to our bilateral relations" and that Russia "will take adequate measures" in response.

The U.S. Treasury Department issued an updated list on December 20 that includes seven Russians and more than three dozen companies in Russia and Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014.

"These targeted sanctions aim to maintain pressure on Russia by sustaining the costs of its occupation of Crimea and disrupting the activities of those who support the violence and instability in Ukraine," John Smith, acting director of the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in a statement............

Access complete text of the editorial:  rferl.org In English


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Two Ukrainian soldiers killed, four wounded, four shell-shocked yesterday

on Wed Dec 21, 2016 8:50 am
Two Ukrainian soldiers killed, four wounded, four shell-shocked yesterday

Two Ukrainian military were killed, four injured, and four shell-shocked in the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) in the east of Ukraine on Dec. 20.

This was announced by Defense Ministry speaker on ATO matters Andrii Lysenko at a briefing on Wednesday, Censor.NET reports.

"Over the past 24-hour period, two Ukrainian fighters were killed in combat, four received injuries, and four got shell-shocked," he said.

According to Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, 10,000 Ukrainians have been killed and more than 20,000 wounded since the beginning of the anti-terrorist operation in the Donbas in 2014. As reported by the U.N., the total death toll of the conflict in Ukraine from mid-April 2014 to Dec.1, 2016 is 9,758, with another 22,779 people wounded.

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U.S. and UK fully adhere to Budapest memo – Yovanovitch

on Wed Dec 21, 2016 8:51 am
U.S. and UK fully adhere to Budapest memo – Yovanovitch

Both Washington and London fulfill their commitments to Kyiv in accordance with the Budapest memorandum, U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch said in an interview with local news agency RBC.

‘I think the U.S. and the UK fully adhere to the Budapest memorandum. I will remind you, that the participants of the Budapest treaty confirmed their readiness to respect territorial integrity of Ukraine and refrain from using force or threatening to do so', the ambassador said........

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Dutch Senate poised to ratify Ukraine deal

on Wed Dec 21, 2016 8:54 am
Dutch Senate poised to ratify Ukraine deal

Rutte still needs to convince opposition parties to support the treaty despite the Dutch No vote

The upper house of the Dutch parliament is ready to support the bill on ratification of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, local Telegraaf media outlet reported late on December 20, referring to insider sources.

According to Telegraaf, the lower chamber of parliament – the House of Representatives – is opposed to the government's declaration on Ukraine, but the situation is different in the upper house – the Senate.

Insiders say legislators of the centre-right Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), the second largest party in the Senate, will support the motion.

Earlier the opposition GroenLinks and D66 parties said they would support the deal.

But even with the support of VVD, PvdA, D66, GroenLinks and OSF, the government still has to secure two CDA voters to get the treaty through the Senate.............

Access complete text of the editorial:  uatoday.tv In English


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Gulen movement behind Russian envoy murder, Turkish FM says - Anadolu

on Wed Dec 21, 2016 8:55 am
Gulen movement behind Russian envoy murder, Turkish FM says - Anadolu

Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen and his movement considered terrorist organization in Turkey

An Islamic religious and social movement, led by Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, was behind the assassination of Russian ambassador Andrey Karlov in Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told U.S. State Secretary John Kerry on the phone on Tuesday, Anadolu news agency reported citing diplomatic sources.

The Gulen movement is considered a terrorist organization in Turkey under the name of FETO. In the past Ankara has accused Gulen, who lives in the United States, of being the mastermind behind the summer failed coup attempt...............

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Two Chechen battalions to be deployed in Syria

on Wed Dec 21, 2016 8:57 am
Two Chechen battalions to be deployed in Syria

Russian authorities have ordered the Chechen leaders to form two new combat battalions to be deployed in Syria for Russia's boots-on-the-ground operation, the Novaya Gazeta outlet has learned, according to Ukraine Today.

The authorities of the Russia's autonomous republic of Chechnya will form two battalions of 600 persons, the newspaper says, referring to its sources. The first special companies are undergoing an intensive physical and combat training, Ukraine Today reports citing Novaya Gazeta. The divisions are recruited with volunteering fighters and the same special forces companies have been created throughout the region for several months. Adam Delimkhanov, the Russian State Duma representative for Chechnya, is reported as responsible for creating new battalions.

Also, the Chechen commander Apti Bolotkhanov may get ahead of one of the combat formation, the newspaper informs. He is widely known for high-ranking participation in Donbas war on the Russian-sponsored forces side. Bolotkhanov was often photographed together with Donbas Russian collaborator chief Alexander Zakharchenko...........

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The Kremlin said the dialogue with the US on sanctions are frozen

on Wed Dec 21, 2016 8:07 pm
The Kremlin said the dialogue with the US on sanctions are frozen

Peskov said that Russia is hardly communicates with the US on the lifting of sanctions

A spokesman for Russian President Dmitry Peskov said that all levels of the dialogue of Russia with the United States on the lifting of sanctions are frozen.

He said this in an interview with the Russian TV channel "Myr24."

Speaking about the expectations from the newly elected US president, Donald Trump, Peskov said that Russia is hardly communicates with the US on the lifting of sanctions.

"As you know, the United States almost all levels of dialogue are frozen. We do not communicate with each other. Or do is minimal, "- he said.

Also, a spokesman for Putin said that Russia does not ask request of lifting the sanctions.

"We have not initiated dialogue on sanctions and will not initiate the lifting of sanctions," - he said.

As reported by Reuters, State Department spokesman John Kirby said that dialogue between the US and Russia on key issues did not stop.

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German Ambassador: I do not agree with those who ask "Marshall Plan" for Ukraine

on Wed Dec 21, 2016 8:19 pm
German Ambassador: I do not agree with those who ask "Marshall Plan" for Ukraine

US, EU countries, Canada will be very difficult to explain to taxpayers why their money from the pockets should give Ukraine

Speaking of "Marshall Plan" for Ukraine should be very careful. Said Ernst Reichel, Ambassador of Germany to Ukraine, while foreign forum, organized by the Institute of World Politics.

"One of the components criticized the lack of a strategic approach to the EU and Germany on Ukraine leitmotif is:" we want more money. " I disagree with those who ask "Marshall Plan" for Ukraine on very simple reasons. At the global level there is a lot of capital with low interest rate. How to attract this capital? If Ukraine will offer appropriate conditions (good and reliable), it will not be anything magical is that international capital will come to Ukraine and will use the available opportunities,"- said Ambassador Reichel.

The German diplomat stressed that Ukraine can become a self-sufficient country for doing business. "When do you need, you no longer need international assistance from taxpayers in other countries in order to support Ukraine", - said Reichel.

He noted that the US, EU countries, Canada will be very difficult to explain to taxpayers why their money from the pockets should be given to Ukraine where there is no guarantee that the money will be used to implement the stated goals.

"So be careful when you talk about the" Marshall Plan. " You can still talk a lot, but I'm against it", - concluded Reichel.

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Government approved Stepanova candidacy as chairman of the Odessa regional administration, replacing Saakashvili

on Wed Dec 21, 2016 9:06 pm
Government approved Stepanova candidacy as chairman of the Odessa regional administration, replacing Saakashvili

The official purpose Stepanova Head of Odessa Regional State Administration must pass at least another two weeks

The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved the appointment of the chairman Odessa Regional State Administration Maxim Stepanov.

"On the appointment of Maxim Stepanov V. head of the Odessa regional administration by competitive selection" - announced First Deputy Prime Minister Stephen cubes.

After that, members of the government approved the appointment of a new head of RSA.

Recall, December 20, it became known the name of the winner in the contest for the vacant position of head of the Odessa Regional State Administration. He was director of manufacturing of securities Maxim Stepanov.

Zanachymo that the official appointment Stepanova governor of Odessa region must pass at least another two weeks, so that those who lost the contest, had the opportunity to appeal the decision of the tender committee and the president officially confirmed its order new head of the Odessa Regional State Administration.

Recall, November 7, at a press conference convened by Mikheil Saakashvili said that he decided to resign. November 9, President Petro Poroshenko dismissed the head of the Odessa Regional State Administration Mikheil Saakashvili from his position .

30 November President announced a competition to occupy the vacant post of head of the Odessa Regional State Administration.

After the second round of the contest to head the Odessa Regional State Administration, which on Tuesday, December 20, conducted by the National Agency for Civil Service, the final went 5 of 31 candidates registered .

It was later declared the winner . He was Maxim Stepanov, who has worked as director of the state enterprise "Printing Plant" Ukraine".

Recall Yevgeny Chervonenko, who once had two years steer Zaporizhzhya region and headed the Ministry of Transport and Communications under President Viktor Yushchenko, failed to pass the selection.

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Kremlin new attack of hysteria, a week after the court ruling "Scythian gold" protested again

on Wed Dec 21, 2016 9:14 pm
Kremlin new attack of hysteria, a week after the court ruling "Scythian gold" protested again



Zakharov talks about Netherlands injustice

The court in Amsterdam on "Scythian gold" is unfair and unjust and puts an end to the Netherlands plans to establish itself as the legal capital of the world. This was stated by spokesman of Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova, writes TASS .

Zakharov listed a series of actions the Netherlands in recent years, including the military and foreign policy, which "are on a par with many unfriendly attacks the Dutch government towards Russia aimed at whipping up anti-Russian public consciousness in hysteria."

"The same logic is subject to unfair and unjust decision of the District Court of Amsterdam on the transfer of exhibits" of Crimea - gold and secrets of the Black Sea. "Ukraine, not Crimea's museum, which, in our opinion, puts an end to the coveted Hague ambitions to establish itself as the legal capital of the world "- she said.

Recall, December 14 Amsterdam Court issued a decision that the "Scythian gold" belongs to Ukraine and must be returned to Kyiv. On appeal given three months. "Minister of Culture" annexed Crimea Orin Novoselskaya said that the Crimean museum's appeal against this decision .

The Ministry of Culture has already expressed its indignation. Russian MPs and cultural figures hysterically reacted to the court ruling "Scythian gold".

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The UN headquarters will create the courts to prepare for war crimes in Syria

on Wed Dec 21, 2016 9:40 pm
The UN headquarters will create the courts to prepare for war crimes in Syria

Russia voted against the creation of staff

The UN General Assembly decided to organize an independent team that will deal with the collection and analysis of evidence of crimes committed in Syria by armed conflict all the time, reports Reuters.

The structure of the new body and his responsibilities will be determined later.

News by topic: The Syrian opposition has denied involvement in the murder of the Russian ambassador
The resolution, which should simplify criminal proceedings in national and international courts, were Liechtenstein and Qatar. Just taking appropriate document voted 105 states voted against 15 countries, including Russia, Venezuela, China, Cuba, Iran and Syria, has 52 international delegations from voting refused.

Thus the UN Special Commission failed to establish that who is guilty in the attack on a humanitarian convoy in Aleppo, which occurred on the night of September 20, 2016. Commission experts stressed that the attack could commit warplanes Syria, Russia and the US-led coalition.

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The suspect in the terrorist attack in Berlin spent 4 years in prison in Italy

on Wed Dec 21, 2016 9:45 pm
The suspect in the terrorist attack in Berlin spent 4 years in prison in Italy

Amri was sentenced in absentia to five years' imprisonment at home



Citizen Tunisia Anis Amry suspected in the case of a terrorist attack in Berlin, which killed 12 people, spent four years in prison in Italy, the radio station Mosaique FM , referring to the father of the suspect.

According to him, Amri went from Africa seven years ago. He later committed a robbery and set fire to school in Italy, and therefore was convicted and sent to prison for four years. Immediately after leaving the prison Amri moved to Germany and lived there for over a year.

News by topic: UN Commission failed to name the culprit in attacks on Aleppo humkonvoy
Also, the suspect's father said that because of the crime in Italy Amri was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison at home.

Recall that on Tuesday, police released the suspect native of Pakistan who was detained in hot pursuit. Today it became known about the new suspect - tunystse.

The attack on a Christmas fair visitors in Berlin on 19 December. Truck hit a crowd of people on the square near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and traveled to the fair about 50-80 meters. 12 people died, 48 were injured. It is likely that among the dead are Ukrainian , but the information is not officially confirmed.

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The Syrian opposition has denied involvement in the murder of the Russian ambassador

on Wed Dec 21, 2016 9:53 pm
The Syrian opposition has denied involvement in the murder of the Russian ambassador
Two Syrian opposition groups said they were not related to the death of Russian Ambassador Charles



Syrian factions "Dzheysh Al-Fatah" and "Dzhebhat Fatah al-Sham" claimed that they took responsibility for the murder of the Russian ambassador in Turkey Andrew Charles. This was reported by the monitoring organization SITE Intelligence Group.

Allegedly, the two circulated armed Syrian opposition groups reported involvement in the attack on Charles were fabricated, reports SITE.

Today, Iraqi television Al Sumaria relayed the message that the coalition troops "Dzheysh Al-Fatah" ( "The army gains") claimed responsibility for the murder of Charles.

News on: Erdogan called killer Ambassador follower of Gulen
Recall December 19 Andrew Charles was killed by 22-year-old Mevlüt Altыntashem, who is suspected of having links with the preacher Gulen and involvement in coup attempts in July.

The murder happened during the opening of the exhibition "Russia through the eyes of the Turks" in Ankara, Altыntash shot Andrew Charles with the words: "Remember Aleppo, Syria remember. We will not leave you alone. Only death will stop me. We die in Aleppo you will die here. " Dressed in a formal suit and tie Altыntash diplomat shot in the back, probably eight times. Turkish police killed him as a result of the raid, while wounding three others.

Reuters, citing sources reported that the shooter was an employee of the Turkish police. This Haberturk reported that he was fired because of the investigation into the attempted coup in Turkey.

Russia and Turkey unanimously called the murder a provocation aimed at destroying the relations between the two countries and intend to prevent this.

Vladimir Putin awarded the title of Hero of Russia killed Ambassador Andrew Charles.

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Putin during a "transitional period" in the US will seek regime change in Ukraine - MP

on Wed Dec 21, 2016 10:02 pm
Putin during a "transitional period" in the US will seek regime change in Ukraine - MP

"For him, the first phase - to undermine the current Ukrainian government, then move on to other stages through early elections," - said Aryan

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a "transitional period" in the American administration will try to change power in Ukraine. This opinion was in the "evening prime" to "112 Ukraine "expressed MP Vladimir Aryan.

"I think that now, in the transition in the US administration and until reaching upheavals in France and Germany, many key players in the world today have problems, then I think it will be an attempt to destabilize Ukraine and this aggravation in the east - only one part of the plan. During this time, I think Putin will try as much as possible to achieve change of power in Ukraine, that one way or another began to clear the way for a loyal Russian regime. as in Ukraine it will be difficult to do at once, it is likely to be chosen path similar to Georgia, when the rate on parties that are not openly hostile to Russia. for him, the first phase - to undermine the current Ukrainian government, then move on to other stages through early elections", - said the deputy.

"For Bellingcat, many of their data were the conclusions of the Commission on downed" Boeing. "I will take these findings with a PACE in January and will show colleagues and giving away" - he said.

Earlier, the US State Department condemned the attacks by Russian militants Debaltsevo.

December 18, according to ATO headquarters, militants attempted to workaround strongholds of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Lugansk area of ​​settlement (approximately 4 km from Svetlodarsk) to knock advanced units ATO forces from their positions and change the line side collision. As a result of the battle, the latest figures, killed five soldiers, wounded another 10 and 6 - injury and concussion.

Losses fighters are estimated at least 25 people dead and 30 wounded.

December 20 in the Defense Ministry said that during Svetlodarsk militants again tried to break through the defense of the Armed Forces.

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Washington does not consider dialogue with Moscow "frozen" - State Department

on Wed Dec 21, 2016 10:08 pm
Washington does not consider dialogue with Moscow "frozen" - State Department

US have "substantial differences" Moscow "by some well-known issues", but said that the break of communication was not noted in the State Department

The dialogue between Russia and the US on key issues of cooperation remains and did not stop. This was announced during a press conference, State Department spokesman John Kirby, reports Reuters.

At the request of journalists to comment on the words of the press secretary of Russian President Dmitry Peskov a "frozen" almost all levels of dialogue with the US, Kirby said he was "difficult to say what is meant by this comment, but diplomatic cooperation with Russia goes on a wide range issues."

State Department spokesman also stressed that the United States has "significant differences" Moscow "by some well-known issues," but assured that the interruption of communication was not . He added that regular contact maintained at the level of embassies.

"We have an embassy there in Russia, and our ambassador talking to (Russian partners on a daily basis," - said Kirby.

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Went out for a walk: Pope Francis caught in an unusual place

on Wed Dec 21, 2016 10:33 pm
Went out for a walk: Pope Francis caught in an unusual place

After lunch on Tuesday, December 20, Pope Francis was seen in one of the Roman shoe stores.



The store, located near the Vatican Gelsomino Street, he said, "as a regular customer", bought a pair of shoes.



Without warning, Francis went to the store, what surprised many vendors and visitors who were there. They immediately set about photographing the head of the Vatican to existing devices.

Eyewitnesses events posted photos and videos to Facebook, they commented: "We prefer not to say anything. We can only say that it was perfect."

Before leaving, the Pope was photographed with all comers, and blessed the cross that hung on the wall of the store.

Recall, for centuries the Vatican there was a fixed "dress code" for the pope, the same attributes were red shoes. Pope Francis first broke it, preferring not fashionable shoes and comfortable black shoes.

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Bellingcat has proof of Russia shelling Ukraine from its territory

on Wed Dec 21, 2016 11:08 pm
Bellingcat has proof of Russia shelling Ukraine from its territory

Bellingcat, a group of international investigators, has come up with a report stating that Russia shelled Ukraine’s territory in 2014 in an act of war.

In its report published on Dec. 21, Bellingcat says Russia deliberately delivered thousands of artillery and mortar attacks in the first months of the war in Donbas, something Moscow has denied. 

The Russian shelling was crucial in fanning the war in Donbas. Its aim was to prevent Ukraine from establishing control over its territory.
The shelling cannot be attributed to the mistakes of the Russian command or some unit COs, Bellingcat says.

 “Our evidence clearly indicates that the shelling was a deliberate attempt by the Russian army to destroy the Ukrainian troops along the border with Russia in 2014. It was actually an act of war against Ukraine, one of Bellingcat’s researchers, Sin Case, says.

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Russia Blasts Netherlands Over Arms Buildup, Ruling On Crimean Treasures

on Wed Dec 21, 2016 11:45 pm
Russia Blasts Netherlands Over Arms Buildup, Ruling On Crimean Treasures

Russia blasted the Netherlands for allowing the United States to begin stocking tanks there, and for a court ruling that ordered Crimean treasures on loan to a Dutch museum to be returned to Ukraine rather than Russia.

"It looks like the Dutch authorities have started to get a taste for deliberately destroying relations with Russia," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on December 21.

Zakharova said the court order that Crimean gold artefacts should be returned to Ukraine instead of Russia - which annexed the territory in 2014 - was unjust and would end the ambitions of The Hague, home to the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice, to become the world's legal capital.

Russia is appealing the ruling.......

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Moscow’s cyber warriors in Ukraine linked to US election

on Thu Dec 22, 2016 12:25 am
Moscow’s cyber warriors in Ukraine linked to US election

Security firm accuses Russian intelligence’s ‘Fancy Bear’ hackers

CrowdStrike, a cyber security firm, has found evidence of alleged Russian government hacking in Ukraine that boosts its confidence that Russia orchestrated the hacking of Democratic National Committee servers in the US before the presidential election.

The firm, which was hired by the DNC to rebuild its cyber defences after the attack, said Fancy Bear — a code name it assigned to hackers that it believes are associated with Russian military intelligence, the GRU — had implanted malware in an Android mobile phone application used by anti-Russian forces operating in eastern Ukraine.

Dmitri Alperovitch, the co-founder and chief technology officer of CrowdStrike, said it had concluded that the hackers who installed the malware were the same perpetrators of the hack that siphoned the DNC emails and penetrated the personal email account of John Podesta, who was the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton.

Identifying the perpetrators of cyber intrusions is notoriously difficult as sophisticated attackers can conceal their identity or make it appear that other parties are behind the activity. But Mr Alperovitch said his confidence level that the DNC hack was the work of the GRU had risen from “medium” to “high” because of the actions that appeared to occur in eastern Ukraine from 2014 to 2016.

According to CrowdStrike, the hackers installed malware in an Android-based mobile phone application, which a Ukrainian officer had developed to improve the targeting of Soviet-era D-30 Howitzer artillery guns. The firm said the deployment of the Fancy Bear malware may have helped reconnaissance against Ukrainian forces. .........

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