ITU report: Russia caused severe damage to Ukraine’s telecom infrastructure

Ukraine will need at least $1.79 billion to rebuild its telecommunications infrastructure to function at the pre-war level. International Telecommunication Union (ITU) a U.N. agency published a report showing that Russia had “destroyed completely or seized” telecom infrastructure in several parts of Ukraine.  The ITU (formerly CCITT) was ordered to investigate the destruction of Ukraine’s communication networks caused by the Russian aggressors.

The report, which covers the first six months of war, notes significant damage and destruction of telecommunications infrastructure in more than 10 of Ukraine’s 24 regions. At the same time, it is emphasized that the aggressor either completely destroyed or captured telecommunications and critical infrastructure in occupied territories, as well as in the combat zone.  In addition, the Russian Federation unilaterally changed Ukrainian telephone codes established by the UN agency to Russian ones.

“Since the beginning of military attacks, with the purpose of using the facilities in its interests and for its own needs, the aggressor either destroyed completely or seized the regular operation of public and private terrestrial telecommunication and critical infrastructure in the temporarily occupied and war-affected territories of Ukraine,” the document said.

According to the report, there had been as many as 1,123 cyber attacks against Ukraine. It also alleged that Moscow unilaterally switched Ukrainian dialling codes, fixed by the U.N. agency, to Russian ones.

Russia has regularly targeted Ukraine with cyberattacks since its annexation of Crimea in 2014. These attacks, perpetrated against government and banking websites, intensified before Moscow sent troops into Ukraine last year. Russia denies being behind those and the other attacks.

The U.N. report, which includes information and data through to August, was quietly posted in a corner of the ITU website in late December. It was brought to Reuters’ attention by a spokesperson on Friday afternoon after requests for information.  Western diplomats have privately expressed frustration concerning delays to the report’s publication.

The EU wrote to then ITU Secretary-General, China’s Houlin Zhao, in September calling for its release, a letter seen by Reuters showed. Zhao responded a few days later to say the damage assessment was still underway, the response showed.

The ITU has not publicly commented on the report. Asked about the gap between the reporting period and the report’s publication, ITU told Reuters the report was published on Dec. 23 “after it was judged complete by the management.”

ITU added that the outcomes of its assessment would help mobilise technical assistance for Ukraine.

The Geneva-based agency, founded in 1865, allocates global radio spectrum and satellite orbits and sets standards for artificial intelligence and other new technologies.

Separately, Russia conducted 1,123 cyber attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure.