Bipartisan legislation cosponsored by U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) that supports cybersecurity cooperation between the United States and the Ukraine on Dec. 14 unanimously passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The bill, which has 25 cosponsors, awaits a vote by the full House of Representatives.
“Cybersecurity is a complex and serious national and economic security issue for any nation,” Fitzpatrick said, and the United States “must play an important role in this fight.”
The Ukraine Cybersecurity Cooperation Act, H.R. 1997, was introduced Apr. 6 by U.S. Reps. Brendan Boyle (D-PA) and Fitzpatrick following an increased number of cyberattacks in the country.
“For years, Ukraine has been under siege from nation-state cyberattacks that have sought to weaken its government and undermine hopes for an open and democratic society,” said Fitzpatrick, who serves on the Congressional Ukraine Caucus.
In December 2015, for example, cyberattacks resulted in unscheduled power outages at Ukrainian power companies that impacted many customers across the country. And during the 2014 presidential election in the Ukraine a failed cyberattack attempted to disrupt the country’s election system software.
The United States, which established diplomatic relations with the country in 1992, subsequently sent interagency teams to the Ukraine to check the country’s infrastructure safety and to help with investigations. Since that time, both countries have cooperated on mitigating future attacks.
“Standing strong with our time-tested allies in freedom’s cause is liberty’s best defense,” Fitzpatrick said.
“By not adequately responding and adapting to these cyberthreats in Eastern Europe, our nation is both letting down an ally, as well as failing to take proactive steps to protect itself,” he added.
Specifically, H.R. 1997 encourages U.S.-Ukraine cybersecurity information sharing and would require the U.S. State Department to report to Congress on the two nations’ cyber cooperation and cyberattack prevention strategies.
The State Department also would help the Ukraine reduce its reliance on Russian technology; increase advanced security protections for its government computers; build capacity; and cooperate in international response efforts.
“Helping Ukraine buttress its cyber defenses will also help the United States in developing new and more effective technologies and strategies in dealing with cybersecurity on the modern battlefield,” said Rep. Boyle.
“Our cooperation towards this goal will send a strong, important signal of Western support for Ukraine at a time when it is literally fighting to protect its democratic identity from [Russian leader] Putin,” Boyle added.
Additionally, the bill reiterates that the United States would continue to provide “financial, economic and technical assistance” to help the country’s government “make progress on reforms and anticorruption initiatives,” according to text of the bill.