INTERVIEW: Kyivstar CEO Oleksandr Komarov (pictured) revealed Ukraine’s telecoms sector was a key target for Russia during the first phase of the war, as he detailed measures taken by the company to keep people connected despite frequent blackouts.

Komarov explained attacks on telecoms infrastructure formed part of a wider Russian strategy to disrupt key industries including finance and power sectors.

During MWC23, he told Mobile World Live Russia destroyed passive infrastructure in occupied territories, resulting in Kyivstar having to reconstruct 30 per cent of its assets from scratch.

At the height of the invasion, Komarov stated up to 50 per cent of its network was “dysfunctional” due to daily power cuts.

Rather than tackle this alone, Kyivstar teamed with other operators to develop a virtual national grid, contributing to a stabilisation of networks and, in turn, coverage.

“We are sharing this responsibility”, said Komarov, adding the partnership covers more than 4,000 sites, providing “sustainable coverage” for voice and data.

Komarov also highlighted Russian cyberattacks on passive infrastructure as a key threat, but explained Ukraine’s national cyber defence strategy is “very solid” in countering the disruption.

In the interview, Komarov also touched upon Elon Musk’s effort to keep Ukraine online with Starlink, and Kyivstar’s investments in digital health and education.

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