When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the Kremlin’s aggression was not only kinetic, but also digital. In coordination with armed forces moving into Ukraine’s sovereign territory, a cyberattack targeted broadband internet access, disabling modems that communicate with global internet provider Viasat’s satellite network and disrupting Ukrainian command and control during the invasion. The consequences of these actions extended far beyond military objectives, impacting civilian infrastructure in European countries including the disruption of emergency health services in France, and disturbance of wind turbines in Germany. Since then, the cyber domain has been an active battleground in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Before Russia’s renewed aggression against Ukraine, the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein to the United Nations published a ground-breaking report on the application of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to cyberwarfare with support from 10 other ICC States Parties and contributions from a Council of Advisors. The Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley School of Law is building off of this report by putting theory into practice as it documents and investigates cyber hostilities between Russia and Ukraine.
This event will highlight the importance of closely scrutinizing offensive cyber operations in the Russia-Ukraine context. The first panel will focus on the application of the Rome Statute to cyberwarfare and the findings reflected in Liechtenstein’s Council of Advisors’ report. The second panel will focus on the facts on the ground, bringing attention to what is taking place in the cyber domain. As the first armed conflict in which all five domains of warfare–land, sea, air, outer space and cyberspace–are being exploited to the fullest by both parties, the conflict in Ukraine presents a unique opportunity for the ICC Prosecutor, as well as for other prosecuting authorities with jurisdiction over war crimes committed in Ukraine, to assess the application of international law to cyber operations during armed conflict.