Russia accused of using WhatsApp bot to ask Ukrainian army to surrender

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Ukrainian intelligence has accused Russia of creating and running a robot farm that sent 5,000 text messages to Ukrainian military and law enforcement agencies asking them to defect and “refuse to support nationalism”.

In a word

On Thursday, the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced via Facebook that the Ukrainian Security Service had shut down a robot farm, also known as a “special information operation” created to “destabilize the moral and psychological state of the Ukrainian security forces”.

According to the service, the message sent said: “The outcome of events is predetermined! Be careful and refuse to support nationalism and the discredited leaders of the country who have already fled the capital!!! This message was sent to 5,000 WhatsApp accounts, Business Insider reported.

The agency added that the robot farm was run from an apartment in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk, but was “remotely controlled from Russia”.

WhatsApp has yet to release a statement on the incident.

Previous cyberattacks

Russia was also found responsible for a cyberattack on US satellite communications company Viasat on the first day of its invasion of Ukraine. On February 24, the same day Russian forces entered Ukrainian territory, anyone using a router made by Viasat was taken offline.

In response, Viasat said: “Although most users were not affected by the incident, the cyberattack affected several thousand customers located in Ukraine and tens of thousands of other fixed broadband customers in across Europe”.

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