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According to two persons familiar with the initiative, the Ukrainian government is looking for participants from the country’s hacker community to assist secure key infrastructure and undertake cyber-surveillance missions against Russian forces.

When Russian forces stormed towns across Ukraine on Thursday morning, pleas for hacker volunteers began to surface on hacker forums while many inhabitants evacuated Kyiv.

The message addressed the cybercommunity in Ukraine, telling them, “It’s time to get involved in the cyber defense of our country.” According to the article, hackers and cybersecurity specialists should apply using Google Docs, identifying their specializations, such as malware production, as well as professional references.

Not confirmed, not denied

Yegor Aushev, a co-founder of a cybersecurity firm in Kyiv, told Reuters that a senior Defense Ministry figure phoned him on Thursday and asked him to write the article. Aushev’s company, Cyber Unit Technologies, is well-known for collaborating with Ukraine’s government on essential infrastructure defense.

According to another source closely involved in the attempt, the request came from the Defense Ministry on Thursday morning.

Representatives from Ukraine’s Defense Ministry did not reply to a request for comment. A defense attaché at Ukraine’s embassy in Washington could not confirm or deny the claim when asked for comment.

Hackers, assemble!

The volunteers would be organized into defensive and offensive cyber battalions, according to Aushev. The defense force would protect infrastructures such as electrical plants and water supplies. 225,000 Ukrainians lost power due to a cyberattack blamed on Russian state hackers in 2015.

Aushev claims that the offensive volunteer unit he is forming would aid Ukraine’s military in conducting digital surveillance missions against invading Russian soldiers.

According to specialists at the cybersecurity firm ESET, a new piece of damaging malware was detected spreading in Ukraine on Wednesday, affecting hundreds of machines.