Cyber War and Peace: “Ukraine Will Win!”

The Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine Mykhailo Fedorov Speaks at Davos, 2022.

Credit: Zarina Zabrisky
Credit: Zarina Zabrisky
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LONDON (Bywire News) - In Davos 2022, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of the Digital Transformation of Ukraine Mykhailo Fedorov, a key player in developing and executing the Ministry’s strategy, delivered a powerful presentation on his country’s use of breakthrough e-governance technologies during the world’s first cyberwar.


Digital transformation was and continues to be an important part of President Zelensky’s program. The Ministry of Digital Transformation, founded in September 2019, still defines its mission as “making Ukraine the most convenient country in the sphere of public services.” The Ministry specified four goals:

  1. To transform 100% of government services online
  2. To provide 95% of the population with quality access to fixed and mobile Internet
  3. To teach 6 million Ukrainians basic digital skills
  4. To increase the IT GDP up to 10% from 5% pre-war level.

“I believe we have achieved great results,” said Fedorov. “We have built a unique org board for digital transformation countrywide and established the Committee of Digital Transformation in the Ukrainian Parliament as well as Chief Digital Transformation Officer positions in every ministry and at every state governance level. This management approach proved to be successful.”

Fedorov has focused his presentation around the main features of Diia, a revolutionary application, a web portal, and an e-governance tool nicknamed “the state in the phone.” Diia is an acronym for “State and I” (Derzhava i Ya.) According to the Minister, Diia is “one of the best e-governance apps in the world.” The unique app allows 17.5 million Ukrainian users to operate a wide range of daily tasks on their smartphones: from storing digital documents, changing their residence registration, paying taxes, donating to the army, to even watching TV.

Ukraine has become the first country in the world to legalize electronic passports and ID cards: A digital passport has the same legal power as the paper one. In a couple of clicks, the passport is shared via a QR code with authorities or service providers, such as hotels or travel agencies.

Every month, millions of Ukrainians use their electronic passports in what proved to be a secure and reliable manner. In addition, over the past two years, Fedorov’s team has launched eleven digital forms, stored in PDF format on Diia, including drivers’ licenses, student ID cards, vehicle registration and insurance, and more. Diia offers the fastest in the world way to start a business from a smartphone.

Ukrainians can create their electronic signatures and sign contracts or open bank accounts online by using Diia. To authorize the Diia signature, the user’s facial biometrics are matched with the biometrics of the demographic register database. Eight million Ukrainians are already using the electronic signature service.

During the COVID-19 crisis, Ukrainians used Diia to apply for financial aid. After Diia checked on the eligibility standards and vaccination requirements, the government made target payments into citizens’ virtual bank accounts: the money could only be used for buying particular types of goods and services.

Today, Ukrainians got one of the highest rates of Internet penetration level in Europe. Almost three million Ukrainians in rural areas got connected to the Internet. In 2021, more than one million Ukrainians learned basic digital skills. The government also offered unique Diia City services, a virtual model of a free economic zone, with digital residency, special taxes, intellectual property protection, and favourable conditions for IT companies. Hundreds of companies joined Diia City. Ukraine has also legalized virtual assets.


On February 24th, 2022, when the Russian Federation started full-scale aggression in Ukraine, and, for the first time in human history, in addition to the ground battles, the world faced digital and informational warfare.

“Cyber security was a backdrop of a digital state that we have been building since the establishment of the Ministry,” said Fedorov. The Ukrainian government and the Ministry of Digital Transformation have applied the digital products and the approaches they have been developing to the war situation.

Diia turned out to be instrumental. As a result of the war, almost 11 million Ukrainians fled their homes and seven million were internally displaced. Refugees and internally displaced persons who lost everything could report complete or partial damage to their properties and use Diia to apply for financial assistance.

After the Russian Federation army’s attacks destroyed many TV towers in the country, Diia TV and Dia Radio provided Ukrainians with reliable and adequate information and news watching options. To uplift the mood, Diia added a game eBaykatar, named after an unmanned aircraft, the symbol of Ukrainian resistance, and Diia users could even watch the Ukrainian victory at the Eurovision competition.

When SpaceX supplied Ukraine with more than 10,000 Starlink stations, they were used not to only support and restore critical infrastructure objects but also to reconnect Diia in liberated and occupied territories. One Starlink station can restore the connection for five villages. Starlink connection is already available in Borodyanka, Irpen and Bucha, and other villages and towns.

“A reliable cyber security system is one of the reasons why we made it through the first days of the war,” said Fedorov. Since 2014, Ukraine has been a subject of continuous Russian cyberattacks, that intensified during the full-scale war. In almost three months, at least six groups of Russian hackers carried out more than 430 cyberattacks. As a part of the defence plan, Ukraine has been now delivering successful counterattacks on Russian cyberspace.

The Ministry of Digital Transformation has recruited 300,000 volunteers, both Ukrainian and international IT professionals, forming a first in the world IT army. One of the main goals of this cyber army is to fight disinformation.

Since the start of the war, the Kremlin has shut down all independent outlets in Russia, allowing only propaganda media and state TV channels to spin and spread false narratives about the war. During the first three days of its existence, the Ukrainian IT army shut down a number of critical Russian governmental websites. On a weekly basis, the Ukrainian IT army attacks approximately 200 websites. On May 9th, the most important military holiday in Russia, the Ukrainian IT army hacked major Russian propaganda TV channels, airing the war coverage instead of planned programs. RuTube, the Russian version of YouTube and the Kremlin’s most instrumental tool, got shut down and thousands of bytes of information were deleted.

Among the tasks performed by the IT army volunteers, are using AI to recognize killed Russian soldiers, finding their social media accounts and notifying the families of their losses, and obtaining databases of the post offices Russian looters used to ship stolen Ukrainian goods from Belarus to Russia.

Diia allows Ukrainians to help the Armed Forces of Ukraine and IT army to fight the Russian occupants. From the first days of the invasion, the Ministry of Defense created EVorog, an app that allows civilians to report the movements of the Russian army and weapons by taking photos and sending them using special bots. All Diia users are verified and fakes are easily identified.

Financial help from abroad is crucial for Ukraine. To simplify the donation process, the Ministry opened a Crypto donation fund that has already raised 60 million in crypto to support military and humanitarian relief efforts. A few weeks ago, President Zelensky launched a global fundraising effort, United-24, an easy one-click donation platform. Donors can choose military, humanitarian aid, or “Rebuild Ukraine” causes.


“Ukraine will definitely win. Our victory is coming,” said Fedorov. “So today, we are already thinking about our course of work after the victory.” The future belongs to the governments that feature innovation, work with IT companies, and are prepared to be flexible, he added.

(Writing by Zarina Zabrisky, editing by Klaudia Fior)

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