The international hacker collective Anonymous is reportedly trying to buy off the already demoralized Russian troops by offering USD 44,280 in bitcoin (BTC) in return for every surrendered tank.
The hacker group has amassed over RUB 1.2bn (USD 10.6m) and is offering tank crews RUB 5m for each surrendered tank, Metro reported, citing a local Ukrainian outlet.
Anonymous advised Russian fighters wishing to surrender to use a white flag and the password “million” to show that they accept the hacker group’s terms.
“Russian soldiers, everyone who wants to live with their families, children, and not die, the Anonymous global community has collected RUB 1,225,043 in bitcoin to help you,” the group is quoted as saying.
Prior to this, the group declared what they called a “cyber war” against the Russian government.
Ever since, the group has been targeting state-owned websites and outlets belonging to Russian government agencies, state media outlets, and banks, but also websites of leading Belarusian banks, including Belarusbank, Priorbank, and Belinvestbank.
“Hackers all around the world: target Russia and Belarusian in the name of Anonymous. let them know we do not forgive, we do not forget. Anonymous owns fascists, always,” the group said in a Twitter post.
Yesterday, the group said that it leaked the database of the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation.
Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation, has also pointed out the importance of IT activities against Russia. On Saturday, he even announced the creation of a Telegram channel for the IT Army of Ukraine.
“We are creating an IT army. We need digital talents,” Fedorov tweeted. “There will be tasks for everyone. We continue to fight on the cyber front. The first task is on the channel for cyber specialists.”
Meanwhile, there have been reports claiming that Russian fighters, plagued by poor morale as well as fuel and food shortages, have been surrendering or even sabotaging their own vehicles to avoid fighting.
After encountering a stiff Ukrainian defense, certain Russian units chose to lay down their arms without a fight, The New York Times reported, citing a senior Pentagon official.
“A significant number of the Russian troops are young conscripts who are poorly trained and ill-prepared for the all-out assault,” the report said, adding that some have deliberately punched holes and destroyed their combat vehicles to avoid fighting.
This may partly explain why Russia’s well-equipped army, including its 40-mile convoy of tanks and armored vehicles near Kyiv, have largely failed to make any considerable advancement over the past days.
That said, reports have come out that the European Union may offer certain Russian citizens EU passports. Mujtaba Rahman, Managing Director at the political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, cited “senior EU officials” as saying that the EU is considering offering “qualified” Russian citizens this option in order to “accelerate Russian economic brain drain.”
Additionally, there are ideas about offering refugee status and asylum to soldiers that desert the Russian army, if they have not committed war crimes. “The policy ingenuity is remarkable,” commented Rahman.