Russia is increasingly cut off from the world.
After Cogent, Lumen is the second American Internet provider to announce the end of its operations in Russia. If this decision is in line with the sanctions imposed by the West, it risks isolating the Russian people a little more from the rest of the world.
A choice for “security
“We decided to disconnect the network because of the increased security risk inside Russia. We have not yet experienced any network disruptions, but given the increasingly uncertain environment and the increased risk of state action, we have taken this step to ensure the security of our networks and those of our customers, as well as the continued integrity of the global Internet,” Lumen said in a statement to explain its decision.
If the firm, unlike other technology companies, does not justify its choice by the illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russia, it is very likely that it fears the new law validated by the Kremlin risking fifteen years in prison to anyone who would spread “false information” about the war.
Lumen claims that its services are “extremely small and very limited” in Russia, but the company’s clients include Rostelecom and TransTelekom, two state-owned telecommunications companies. The end of the service’s activities in the country should therefore be felt by the population.
Technology companies follow Western sanctions
Lumen’s decision is not surprising, as Western governments and tech giants take drastic measures to protest the war in Ukraine. Silicon Valley giants such as Oracle, Intel, Airbnb, Microsoft and AMD have decided to suspend their activities in Russia. This is also the case of Apple, which will no longer sell its products in Russia, as well as Samsung, which has taken a similar decision.
Google has announced the end of its advertising activities in Russia, endangering many companies as the advertising machine of the Mountain View firm is colossal. Similarly, Amazon Web Services, the world’s largest cloud provider, said it would no longer accept new customers from Russia or Belarus.
A digital iron curtain around Russia
Russia is fighting back. For example, the Kremlin has decided to restrict Twitter and block Facebook in the country, but this only cuts off the Russian people from international sources of information. The fact that Internet providers from abroad are leaving Russia can have disastrous consequences for Russians.
“Disconnecting Russia from the global Internet means leaving Russians with only state propaganda that tells them Ukrainians are their enemies. This will silence anti-war voices and harm Ukraine,” Natalia Krapiva, a digital rights lawyer with the Internet freedom advocacy group Access Now, told the Washington Post. Right now, the main remaining sources of international data in Russia are Western companies based in Sweden, Italy and the United Kingdom.
The West is building a digital iron curtain around Russia, which Putin’s country is trying to circumvent. To achieve this, it is considering, for example, legalizing software piracy in order to have access to services and products from Western companies.