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Vladimir Putin is believed to be using Ukraine as a “training ground” to learn how to attack other countries as part of his bid to “control the world”.

Ukraine has fallen victim to a number of cyber infringements over the last two years, including an attack in June that cut all power in houses and rendered vital public services such as the post office and ATMs unusable for days.

Oleksii Yasinsky, from a Kiev cybersecurity firm called ISSP, said: “The question is not whether Ukraine is attacked… but whether Europe and the United States are attacked.

“In that case, it won’t be a demonstration, it will be a quiet attack.”

He went on to say Russian hackers were using Ukraine to “hone technologies, mastery and attack techniques” in the “training ground” of Ukraine before targeting other countries.

He added: “There is a battle going on for every byte.

“Whoever controls cyberspace will control the world.”

Cyber attacks have plagued the West over the last twelve months, from an attack that affected all NHS computers in the UK, to claims of attempts to influence the US Presidential election.

John Hultquist, who is Head of Intelligence Analysis at US security company Fireeye, agreed with Mr Yasinsky.

He warned that Russia continues to try the patience of the West and that he does not believe Putin will stop short of an attack.

He said: “I don’t think Russia is going to keep this bottled up in Ukraine.

“Historically they have crossed every red line we thought they wouldn’t.”

“Are they going to walk away from cyber? No. They would attack.”

Earlier this month Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson warned Russia not to use hacking or cyberbots to target the UK.

He was embroiled in the extraordinary spat during a press conference in Moscow with his Russian counterpart over claims the Kremlin meddled in the Brexit referendum and general election.

Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov denied claims that Kremlin-sponsored hackers had intervened in democratic elections and said that was confirmed by his British counterpart.

But before an audience of journalists and diplomats, Mr Johnson interrupted saying: “Not successfully – not successfully is the word.”

Mr Johnson went on to say there was “abundant evidence” of Russian interference in polls in the US, Germany, Denmark and France.

He also warned Moscow against launching cyber attacks, telling reporters: “The UK is certainly prepared and able to respond, should we so desire.”

The Foreign Secretary’s argument with Russia followed Theresa May publicly denouncing Russia in November.

Speaking at Lord Mayor’s Banquet at the City of London’s Guildhall, Mrs May aimed part of her speech directly at the Mr Putin.

She said: “So I have a very simple message for Russia.

“We know what you are doing and you will not succeed because you underestimate the resilience of our democracies, the enduring attraction of free and open societies and the commitment of Western nations to the alliances that bind us.

“The UK will do what is necessary to protect ourselves and work with our allies to do likewise.”