Morning Security Brief: Crimea Votes to Break Away From Ukraine, Missing Flight Update, And More
Russia moves to annex the Black Sea Peninsula after Crimea votes overwhelmingly to break off from Ukraine; the search continues for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 as theories explaining its disappearance begin to take shape; and Japan holds a cybersecurity drill as it prepares to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
► After the Ukrainian region of Crimea voted on Sunday in a referendum to join Russia with an overwhelming majority of nearly 97 percent, the United States and its European allies immediately moved to impose sanctions against Russia, which is drafting a bill to annex the Black Sea peninsula. Ukraine’s interim government has backed a presidential decree that would carry out the mobilization of 40,000 reservist troops after the referendum’s outcome. On Tuesday, Russian president Vladimir Putin harshly criticized the West and Ukraine’s leaders for declaring the referendum illegal, calling Ukraine’s leadership “nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites,” and made accusations that another coup d’etat was being planned. On Monday, Crimea’s parliament declared itself an independent state. However, “The treaty to annex Crimea has to be signed by leaders of Russia and Crimea, approved by the Constitutional Court and then be ratified by the parliament,” according to Fox News.
► The international search effort continues for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 , which went missing on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members. According to Reuters, China has deployed 21 satellites to sweep its territory for the plane, and Australia says it is “looking in an expanse of ocean the size of Spain and Portugal” after greatly scaling down its search sector. An article in the New York Times on Monday quoted senior American officials as saying that someone with knowledge of altering flight paths manually typed in a code to divert the plane’s navigation from a computer in the cockpit. “The fact that the turn away from Beijing was programmed into the computer has reinforced the belief of investigators—first voiced by Malaysian officials—that the plane was deliberately diverted and that foul play was involved. It has also increased their focus on the plane’s captain and first officer,” according to the article. However, investigative efforts so far have shown no signs of a terroristic threat or person with terrorist motives on board the plane.
► As Tokyo gears up to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, the government held a cybersecurity drill on Tuesday to “improve coordination among public agencies and major businesses,” according to AFP. The “mock attack” was held as Japan looks to strengthen its cyber defenses for the upcoming games, especially in light of a recent attack on the Tokyo-based MtGox Bitcoin exchange, in which half a billion dollars of the digital currency was stolen, allegedly by computer hackers. During the exercises, the government even prepared mock press releases to inform the public of the breaches.