How the Ukrainian "IT Army" prevented a nuclear meltdown

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How the Ukrainian “IT Army” prevented a nuclear meltdown

September 1, 2022 - Ryan Denison, PhD

FILE - A Russian serviceman guards an area of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in territory under Russian military control, southeastern Ukraine, May 1, 2022. Ukrainians are once again anxious and alarmed about the fate of a nuclear power plant in a land that was home to the world’s worst atomic accident in 1986 at Chernobyl. The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, has been occupied by Russian forces and continued fighting nearby has heightened fears of a catastrophe that could affect nearby towns in southern Ukraine or beyond. (AP Photo/File)

FILE - A Russian serviceman guards an area of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in territory under Russian military control, southeastern Ukraine, May 1, 2022. Ukrainians are once again anxious and alarmed about the fate of a nuclear power plant in a land that was home to the world’s worst atomic accident in 1986 at Chernobyl. The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, has been occupied by Russian forces and continued fighting nearby has heightened fears of a catastrophe that could affect nearby towns in southern Ukraine or beyond. (AP Photo/File)

A team of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency is currently on its way to examine one of Europe’s largest nuclear power plants.

What makes this particular visit unique is that the power plant in question is at the heart of the fighting between Ukraine and Russia. It’s also been subject to a steady barrage of shelling that could have catastrophic consequences for not only Ukraine but much of Europe as well. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cautioned that any damage to the plant was tantamount to “suicide.”

That the IAEA inspection team still has a relatively undamaged power plant to visit is perhaps due, at least in part, to the efforts of a group of volunteers that has had an outsized impact on the war despite never firing a bullet or launching a missile.

What is the Ukrainian IT army?

The Ukrainian “IT army” was created back in February by Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister and minster for digital transformation, and consists of roughly 230,000 largely anonymous volunteers who work together to help safeguard the country’s cyber security against attacks from Russia.

As Fedorov aptly described, “Cyberspace is a frontline of the 21st century, and victories there are as important as in actual battlefields.” That Ukraine has been able to gain the advantage in this area is one of the primary reasons Russia has not already won the war.

Since its inception, the IT army has helped to thwart more than eight hundred cyberattacks, including those targeting Ukraine’s banking system, economy, and other critical infrastructure.

Perhaps no area has been as important, however, as protecting the country’s largest power producer. That company operates four nuclear power plants, including the one in Zaporizhzhia, where the IAEA is currently headed, and staving off Russian attempts to shut them down is part of why the reactor is still operational.

The compound effect of collective work

While the IT army has made a significant impact in the war against Russia, it has not asked as much of its individual volunteers as one might expect. As one member of the force described, “I am not doing a huge amount of work, but in general, when we are acting all together, our input is very useful. . . I just start some applications and I am free for coffee, tracking the process from time to time—maybe some new targets emerged.”

As such, their efforts point to an important principle for us to consider today: It doesn’t always take a lot of work to make a big difference, particularly when you work alongside others.

As Christians, it can be easy to look at the world around us and feel overwhelmed by the needs we see and the work that our Lord is trying to accomplish in order to bring people into a personal relationship with him. And, if accomplishing that work was up to us, we would be right to feel overwhelmed.

However, Scripture is clear that, though God calls each of us to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing others in his name, and teaching them everything that Jesus commanded, we are not meant to do it alone (Matthew 28:19–20). Rather, we are meant to approach that calling every day with an awareness of and dependence on his promised presence as well as the community of believers around us. Both are necessary because when God made his plans for your unique role within his larger will, he intended for you to utilize both.

So, as you reflect on the work you’re currently doing to fulfill his calling on your life, are there any areas where you have left resources on the table?

Are there other people with whom he may want you to partner that you have neglected?

Have you remembered to continually include the Lord as you set about accomplishing his will?

How you answer those questions will go a long way toward determining the degree to which you can fulfill his calling on your life.

What are your answers today?

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV®️ Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®️), copyright ©️ 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The ESV text may not be quoted in any publication made available to the public by a Creative Commons license. The ESV may not be translated in whole or in part into any other language.

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