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By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) – The top Ukraine official in South Korea said on Friday that his country wants to request Seoul’s assistance in boosting its cybersecurity capability to defend against Russian attacks.

Missiles pounded the Ukrainian capital as Russian forces pressed their advance after launching attacks on Thursday, prompting Kyiv’s plea for more help from the international community.

Dmytro Ponomarenko, Ukraine’s ambassador-designate to South Korea, said the websites of the country’s governmental institutions were suffering from Russian attacks.

A global cybersecurity firm has also said that a newly discovered piece of destructive software was found circulating in Ukraine and has hit hundreds of computers, part of what was deemed an intensifying wave of hacks aimed at the country.

Ponomarenko commended South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s remarks that Ukraine’s sovereignty must be respected and Seoul supports a peaceful resolution of the crisis, but expressed hopes for additional assistance.

We would also be grateful if the Republic of Korea, being a highly developed hi-tech country, gave us a hand in strengthening our cybersecurity capabilities,” he said in a statement released after a news conference in Seoul, using South Korea’s official name.

Moon said South Korea would join the international community’s efforts to slap economic sanctions on Russia, but officials said they were not considering adopting unilateral measures.

An official at South Korea’s foreign ministry said it would step up support for Ukraine, but did not immediately comment on potential cyber cooperation.

South Korea designated Ukraine as a key recipient of official development aid last year, and currently provides help in education, health and public administration among other areas.

Ukraine accounts for only around 0.1% of South Korea’s trade volume. Russia is South Korea’s major energy supplier and 10th largest trade partner, with several big companies including Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor running plants there.

Ponomarenko urged the international community to show solidarity by imposing sanctions against Russia and providing Ukraine with financial, military and fuel support, as well as humanitarian assistance.

We need to act together and in coordinated manner,” he told the news conference.


(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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