Pro-Russian hackers: We took down Merkel’s site

Pro-Russian hackers in Ukraine have claimed responsibility for an attack that crashed the website of Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday.

Pro-Russian hackers: We took down Merkel's site
Angela Merkel and Arseniy Yatsenyuk meet in Ukraine, 2014. Photo: DPA

A group calling itself CyberBerkut said it had blocked the sites of the chancellor and the German parliament as a message to Germany to stop supporting what it called the “criminal regime in Kiev”.

The hackers successfully overloaded the servers of the two official websites, keeping them offline for several hours.

The cyber-attack coincides with the visit to Berlin of the Ukrainian prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. He is due to meet on Wednesday afternoon with President Joachim Gauck before convening on Thursday with Chancellor Merkel. 

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said: “I can confirm that sites operated by the Federal Press Office have only occasionally been reachable since 10am.”

The sites of the parliament and the chancellor were hardest hit by what Seibert described as “a serious attack”.

The Federal Office of Information Security had been informed of the attack, he said.

The name CyberBerkut is a reference to the special police force accused by the new Ukrainian government of killing some 100 civilians in the days before former President Viktor Yanukovych fled the country last February. 

The group said Ukraine was seeking money from the EU and the IMF "to extend the war and not to restore collapsed infrastructure of our country." 

Russia has face wide-ranging sanctions from the EU and the United States since moving to annex Crimea and destabilize eastern Ukraine. 


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Macron, Scholz and Draghi meet Ukrainian president in Kyiv

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi have met the Ukrainian president in Kyiv, after the trio travelled overnight by train from Poland.

Macron, Scholz and Draghi meet Ukrainian president in Kyiv

The three leaders left in the early hours of Thursday, arriving into Kyiv on Thursday morning. After a visit to the heavily-bombed town of Irpin, they met Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky.

It is the first time that the leaders of the three European Union countries have visited Kyiv since Russia’s February 24th invasion of Ukraine, and the visit comes as Kyiv is pushing for membership of the EU.

Macron has been paying a two-day visit to Romania and Moldova to discuss the ongoing crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

There had been widespread speculation in France that he would combine the trip with a visit to Zelensky in Ukraine, but this was not confirmed until Thursday morning.

In a joint press conference with Romanian president Klaus Iohannis, Macron reiterated his desire that Ukraine should win the war, but added that eventually negotiations between Ukraine and Russia will be necessary.