Kiev has formally joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Cyber Defense Center on Tuesday. Ukraine’s flag was raised at the headquarters of NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) in Tallinn, according to a Ukrainian Foreign Ministry statement.
Ukraine applied to join CCDCOE in 2021 and has been a “contributing participant” since March 2022. “Today the National Flag of Ukraine is officially raised at the Headquarters of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn, marking official accession of Ukraine to CCDCOE,” the ministry said on Twitter. Kiev further thanked the members of the CCDCOE for the invitation and expressed “special gratitude” to the Estonian government for championing Ukraine’s ascension.
The announcement represents another escalation in the North Atlantic alliance’s proxy war with Russia. Ukrainian membership in NATO, or the establishment of a permanent military presence on Russia’s doorstep, is known to US officials as Moscow’s “brightest of all red lines.”
Moreover, this potential threat has been cited by President Vladimir Putin as among the main reasons for launching his invasion last year. Estonia is currently leading the charge to upgrade Kiev’s status within the NATO bloc, including pushing other members to provide Ukraine with a concrete and clear path to membership.
Last June, Gen. Paul Nakasone, the head of US Cyber Command, revealed to Sky News that Washington had been assisting Ukraine by conducting “offensive” cyber attacks against the Russians. Nakasone said the US has “conducted a series of operations across the full spectrum; offensive, defensive, information operations” aimed at Russia, without offering more details.
According to NATO, a cyber-attack against a member of the alliance could trigger the bloc’s Article 5 mutual collective defense clause. In July 2021, President Joe Biden ominously warned that such cyber conflicts are liable to start a real war with Russia and China. “If we end up in a war, a real shooting war with a major power, it’s going to be as a consequence of a cyber breach of great consequence,” Biden said while visiting the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.