Putin's Adviser Says Russia Must Be Ready To Disconnect Itself From The Global Internet

from the death-of-"death-of-geography" dept

Back in November, we wrote about Russia’s surprising move to enforce an older data localization law that requires all Internet companies to store the personal data of Russian citizens on Russian soil. At the time, that seemed to be just another example of Vladimir Putin’s desire to keep a close eye on everything that was happening in Russia. But a comment from his Internet adviser, German Klimenko, hints that there could be another motive: to make it easier for Russia to cut itself off from the global Internet during a crisis, as The Washington Post reports:

Klimenko pointed out that Western powers had cut Crimea off from Google and Microsoft services after the peninsula was annexed from Ukraine by Russia (the companies were complying with U.S. sanctions on Crimea imposed after Russia’s takeover). He suggested that showed why it was necessary for the Russian Internet to work on its own.

“There is a high probability of ‘tectonic shifts’ in our relations with the West,” said Klimenko. “Therefore, our task is to adjust the Russian segment of the Internet to protect themselves from such scenarios.” He added that “critical infrastructure” should be on Russian territory, “so no one could turn it off.”

Klimenko’s comments were made before the US announced its response to claims of Russian interference in the presidential election process. His analysis of “tectonic shifts” in US-Russia relations now looks rather prescient, although US threats to hack back made it a relatively easy prediction. And even though his call for Russia to ensure its critical infrastructure cannot be “turned off” by anyone — in particular by the US — may be grandstanding to a certain extent, it is not infeasible.

The Chinese have consciously made their own segment of the Internet quite independent, with strict controls on how data enters or leaves the country. Techdirt reported earlier that Russia was increasingly looking to China for both inspiration and technological assistance; maybe Klimenko’s comments are another sign of an alignment between the two countries in the digital realm.

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Comments on “Putin's Adviser Says Russia Must Be Ready To Disconnect Itself From The Global Internet”

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Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They are doing the opposite. They have recently seen western internet companies stop serving a country as compliance with US sanctions. It looks, to me, like they are trying to ensure that they are not relying on systems and companies that are outside of their control and can be turned off by another country.

This makes a lot of sense. If a sizable portion of their economy was dependent on Google services and the US ordered Google to stop serving Russia (and they complied), it could have devastating economic impact.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: We will help

I am by no means a globalist supporter and tend to be isolationist in my idea of what a good national government would be like, but it is pretty stupid to support keeping the people of earth separate from each other on the internet.

The internet makes a great place to share ideas and to help understand other cultures better. I know that there are a plenty of whack job liberals and conservatives that want to be the BIG voice on the internet and for all others to be silenced but that only invites just exactly what you “think” you are going to be getting away from.

Wyrm (profile) says:

I don’t agree with their idea, but I can’t say I don’t understand either. They’ve seen what US – both as a government and as private companies – does with the internet (and in real life). Surveillance, hacking, whole-country ban (even if that’s sometimes justified).
Not saying that Russia is all clean either, but that helps understand why the historical nemesis of US might want to take protective measures against digital actions from a country that has already proven that “freedom” and “human rights” are things it likes to advocate for others but is applying very selectively to itself.

Ed Hurst (user link) says:


Commoditizing includes the idea that everyone in the market is doing pretty much the same thing, with distinctions relegated to very minor differences. The majority of buyers no longer give much thought to which brand they buy. With computer technology, this is a critical issue in understanding the market.

I can recall when computer hardware companies were hoping to commoditize operating systems, but gave up when Microsoft succeeded in commoditizing hardware. Some of you may be aware that Russia is working to do both, pushing out their own brand of Linux (for government use) and their own hardware, down to the CPU and everything. It doesn’t have to be competitive globally; it only has to work for them. They’ve been at this for awhile, and it’s simply a reflection of the times. China has done this to some degree already.

Like it or not, a substantial portion of this world’s population is currently turning away from globalism to nationalism. While the nature of the Internet remains agnostic about borders, people and corporations are still subject to that rising nationalism and maybe some imperialism. The Internet cannot be commoditized; it’s the only one of its kind right now. While China’s government is still juggling and experimenting with how much they can actually control, they are still connected to the same Internet. We still get spam and malware from servers on Chinese soil.

The only way for one nation/country to keep their place on the Net is to reduce their dependency on corporate vendors with a globalist/imperialist bent. Russia is simply trying to reduce dependency on other nations while keeping the option of staying connected.

moochi says:

not news

This isn’t news. If there is a piece of legislation that has been passed or is about to be passed, that is one thing, but this isn’t really anything at all. Some random suggestion by some underling doesn’t mean anything. I’m sure Putin probably has 1000s of advisers that each have 1000s of suggestions. It seems like you could pick out any narrative you want from this treasure trove.

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