Within hours of Russian military forces invading Ukraine, major Russian military and government websites went down, and whoever was responsible wanted the Russians to know it.
Official Russian websites Kremlin.ru and Mil.ru began returning error messages midmorning Thursday, Feb. 24, hours after the Russian invasion began. Kremlin.ru is the official press website of the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, featuring news releases and archived speeches. The pages would not load in a wide range of computer and mobile browsers attempted by Coffee or Die Magazine, and reports of the outage were widespread on social media.
Whoever was responsible set the Russian systems to return a so-called teapot error message, a reference to an arcane practical joke in the cyber world, in which an attacked system is said to be reduced to the level of an automated teapot.
The Russian military website (https://t.co/h3n4oxn0ac) is returning HTTP error code 418 indicating the Russian Military is now a Teapot.
No, this is not a joke. pic.twitter.com/At5vkNhray
— vx-underground (@vxunderground) February 24, 2022
Russia’s military website, Mil.ru, was returning the error message “418 I’m a Teapot.”
According to a Mozilla developer website, the error response code indicates that the server “is, permanently, a teapot.”
The identity of the attacker or attackers was unclear, though the teapot reference suggests they were civilians steeped in cyber culture rather than government-sponsored hackers bent on damage.
Eventually, the Russians got the site restarted but only by blocking users outside of Russia.
— Brett Callow (@BrettCallow) February 24, 2022
A loophole shared by Bulgarian journalist Christo Grozev allows access to the Kremlin site. Problems were also found in accessing the State Duma site, the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia.
According to The Independent, the downed Russian sites mirrored incidents over recent days when Ukrainian sites experienced outages.
The Kremlin website, as well as most Russian government websites, are down. https://t.co/bg5TriAzBe— Christo Grozev (@christogrozev) February 24, 2022
“Hours before Russia began its invasion, the official websites of the Ukrainian parliament, government and foreign ministry were knocked offline in what the country said was a cyber attack,” The Independent reported Thursday.