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Ukraine needs $1.7bn for telecoms recovery, ITU says

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Around US$1.79 billion worth of damage has been done to Ukraine’s telecoms sector, a UN state agency said in a report published in December.

The report indicated that Russia had “destroyed completely or seized” networks in parts of the country since the war commenced in the country last February.

The sensitive damage assessment by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) was commissioned in April to determine the extent of damage done to the sector in Ukraine.

The report covers the first six months of the war, where damage was done to communications infrastructure in more than 10 out of 24 regions in Ukraine.

As of July 2022, 12.2% of homes lost access to mobile communications services (3.1% partially) and 11% of base stations of mobile operators were out of service and 20% of the country's telecommunication infrastructure was damaged or destroyed.

"Direct damage" of telecommunications facilities, networks, systems and equipment is estimated at US$0.71 billion.

"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 report said.

The economic losses of the telecommunications market have been estimated to be more than US$0.1 billion, with companies providing 22% fewer services than before the start of the war.

The report states that three out of seven operators providing mobile communication services and 961 out of 4482 fixed internet service providers of Ukraine are under occupation.

It is estimated that up to all of the ICT networks are destroyed in the war-affected parts of the country.

Cyber attacks

Ukraine has regularly suffered cyberattacks since the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and more commonly during the prelude to the 2022 Russian invasion.

The first major cyberattacks occurred on January 14, 2022, and more than a dozen of Ukrainian websites were taken down.

Ukrainian officials stated that around 70 websites, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Cabinet of Ministers and the Security and Defense Council were attacked.

This was followed by more attacks on February 15, where several government and bank services were taken down.

The report also alleges that Ukrainian dialling codes fixed by the UN agency were switched to Russian ones, and there had been around 1,123 cyber-attacks against Ukraine in this period.

The ITU hasn’t publicly commented on the report, although it was allegedly published in December before being brought to Reuters, who posted a story on the report on Friday.

The report also listed several pledges from neighbouring countries related to Ukraine and restoring its telecommunications sector.

The ITU Council adopted Resolution 1408 on “Assistance and support to Ukraine for rebuilding their telecommunication sector” to monitor and provide regular reports on the particular needs of Ukraine in telecoms and to prepare proposals for effective technical assistance.

It also aims to carry out an assessment of the impact of the war and to ensure “adequate financial and human resources mobilisation” including the internal budget for the implementation of the proposed action.