MEMBERS of the global 'Five Eyes' spy network met in Newport this week, as it emerged Russia launched a Europe-wide cyber-attack minutes before its invasion of Ukraine.

New UK and US intelligence suggests Russia was behind an operation targeting satellite communications company Viasat, impacting internet access across the continent.

Although the primary target is believed to have been the Ukrainian military, other customers were affected, including personal and commercial internet users.

Viasat said that "tens of thousands of terminals have been damaged, made inoperable and cannot be repaired".

At Newport's International Conference Centre (ICC Wales), cyber-security leaders from the so-called "Five Eyes" group of nations met with counterparts from the European Union and other nations to discuss shared cyber threats.

The Five Eyes comprises the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA, and is an intelligence alliance born out of post-World War Two fears of the Soviet Union.

Currently, it is threats posed by post-Soviet Russia under Vladimir Putin that concern the spy network.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has concluded Russian military intelligence agencies were "almost certainly involved" in attacks on Ukrainian government websites in January and the deployment of destructive malware.

The NCSC has also said it is "almost certain" Russia was responsible for the subsequent cyber-attack impacting Viasat on February 24, the day Putin sent an invasion force into Ukraine.

In Newport this week, Sir Jeremy Fleming, the head of UK spy agency GCHQ, told attendees strong cyber security is needed to protect the nation now more than ever, because of global economic concerns and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

He said the UK must continue to focus on cyber criminals and other bad actors who are constantly adapting their tactics in an effort to make money through illegal activities.

Sir Jeremy also warned the UK and other countries standing with Ukraine against Russia’s ongoing invasion must continue to boost their own cyber security capabilities.

He said GCHQ has seen indications that “Russia’s cyber operatives continue to look for targets in countries that oppose their actions”.

“We’ve seen what looks like some spillover of activity affecting other countries," he told the conference at the ICC.

“That’s why we have increased our efforts to ensure UK businesses and government urgently improve levels of cyber resilience.

“And why, with our allies, we will continue to support Ukraine in shoring up their cyber defences.”

Additional reporting by Press Association.