The Legal Status and Targeting of Hacker Groups in the Russia-Ukraine Cyber Conflict

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


The armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine has been characterized by a considerable number of cyber operations by States and non-State actors in support to either party to the conflict. One year since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the ‘Russia-Ukraine cyber conflict’ offers valuable insights for estimating the effectiveness of International Humanitarian Law in regulating the status and the conduct of individuals engaging in cyberspace operations during wartime. By discussing the status of hackers groups and individuals who have conducted cyber operations in support of Ukraine, this Article claims that the relevance of the concept of combatancy is diminished in the cyber domain, and that the notion of direct participation in hostilities must be adapted to the specific features of cyberspace. Furthermore, the article focuses on the issues relating to the targeting of individual who directly participate in hostilities by conducting cyber operations in support of Ukraine. By doing so, the Article argues that cyber direct participants place themselves at an increased risk of being attacked, even though the Russian armed forces are limited in their targeting decisions by the principles of proportionality and precaution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142–182
Number of pages41
JournalJournal of International Humanitarian Legal Studies
Issue number1
Early online date21 Mar 2024
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:


Dive into the research topics of 'The Legal Status and Targeting of Hacker Groups in the Russia-Ukraine Cyber Conflict'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this