Russian President Vladimir Putin is considering a plan that would disconnect Russia from the global internet in the case of an “emergency” in Russia.
The Security Council in Russia convened yesterday to discuss plans for what might happen in such an emergency. The goal, according to the Vedomosti newspaper, would be to bring sovereignty to the Russian internet. Top level domain .RU might also come under state control, although the Kremlin would have to face ICANN first.
If the plans came to action, it would be a radical turn of events. Russian Internet has remained open and relatively unrestricted compared to Russian television and newspapers.
Russia believes the majority of Western media outlets have adopted a biased view toward events in the Ukraine, hence the Kremlin’s desire to distance itself from differing opinions in the outside world. Russian media channels are portraying the Ukrainian conflict as a battle against “fascists,” and continue to deny the use of weapons and soldiers in the region.
Russian officials have talked at length about concerns of US influence and spying. According to Vedomosti, they aim for a reduction in the amount of dependency on American technology and digital infrastructure. Andrei Soldatov, a Russian spy agencies expert, is calling the move a “real step forward in the development of a besieged fortress mentality.” He added that it would be possible for Russia to complete a total disconnect, because the country has “surprisingly few” public Internet Exchange Points. In regards to potential Russian takeover of .RU, .SU (Soviet Union) and рф (Russian Federation), he said that many of these websites are hosted abroad. Even his own website hosted in Germany would be affected. This makes the move seem all the more ominous.
We believe Russia may be concerned that Western countries will impose internet-based sanctions and is exploring ways to minimize the potential impact. Unplugging from the internet would not seem to address that concern.