Electric vehicle charging stations along Russia’s M11 motorway, which stretches from Moscow to Saint Petersburg, are not working because a Ukrainian company that provided parts for the chargers hacked them using a backdoor in the chargers’ control systems, according to a Facebook post by Russian energy company Rosseti.
According to the post, the chargers were purchased through a Russian company which had outsourced production to a Ukrainian parts supplier called AutoEnterprise, a Kharkiv-based EV charging company. This morning, posts began to appear on social media showing the chargers were disabled and programmed to display pro-Ukrainian messages.
AutoEnterprise’s Facebook page re-posted a video taken by an Instagram user from the M11 motorway showing the disabled chargers. The chargers show an error message reading in English “CALL SERVICE NO PLUGS AVAILABLE” before new screens show additional messages in Russian: “GLORY TO UKRAINE / GLORY TO THE HEROES / PUTIN IS A DICKHEAD / DEATH TO THE ENEMY.” The phrase translated as “Putin is a dickhead” became a popular slogan in Ukraine following the 2014 Russian invasion, particularly among soccer fans in Kharkiv.
It is not clear how many chargers are deactivated, for how long they were displaying anti-Putin messages, or for how long the chargers will be unavailable. In its statement, Rosseti said the chargers are being isolated from the rest of the grid network and will be working again soon.
Rosseti and AutoEnterprise did not immediately respond to a Motherboard request for comment.