Russia on the Cusp of ‘Internet Sovereignty’, Successfully Tests Disconnecting From Worldwide Web

Internet traffic was re-routed internally, effectively making Russia’s RuNet the world’s largest intranet and thereby achieving “internet sovereignty”.

DESPARDES — The Russian government announced on Monday that it concluded a series of tests during which it successfully disconnected the country from the worldwide web.

The review was conducted over the course of several days following “sovereign internet” bill introduced in November in response to what Russia calls the “aggressive nature” of U.S. national cyber security strategy, according to Reuters.

The tests were carried out over multiple days, starting last week, and involved Russian government agencies, local internet service providers, and local Russian internet companies, reported ZDnet.

The goal was to test if the country’s national internet infrastructure — known inside Russia as RuNet — could function without access to the global DNS system and the external internet.

Internet traffic was re-routed internally, effectively making Russia’s RuNet the world’s largest intranet, and thereby achieving “internet sovereignty”.

Several disconnection scenarios, including a scenario that simulated a hostile cyber-attack from a foreign country were undertaken.

Russia’s successful tests for ‘internet sovereignty’ are a culmination of multiple years of planning, law-making by Putin-led government, and physical modifications to its local internet infrastructure.

The tests were done (initially scheduled for April this year but were delayed until this fall), after the Kremlin passed a seamless law across all domains.

Called the “internet sovereignty” law, it grants the Russian government the power to disconnect the country from the rest of the internet on the grounds of “national security.”

To do this, the law mandates that all local internet service providers re-route all internet traffic through strategic points under the management of Russia’s Communications Ministry.

These strategic points can serve as a gigantic flip-switch for Russia’s external internet connectivity, but they can also function as an internet surveillance apparatus against cyber war, similar to China’s Great Firewall technology.

The experiment was deemed a success, the government said in a press conference on Wednesday.

“Our goal was to provide an uninterrupted internet service on Russian territory under any circumstances,” said Alexei Sokolov, deputy head of the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media at a press briefing.

“It turned out that, in general, that both authorities and telecom operators are ready to effectively respond to possible risks and threats and ensure the functioning of the Internet and the unified telecommunication network in Russia,” Sokolov said, as cited by multiple Russian news agencies. [1, 2, 3, 4].

The move signals potentially broader implications within the Central Asia and South Asia region considered “geopolitical laboratory” as an emerging multipolar world jostles to leverage the ascent of a new world order.

Russia’s foray into ‘internet sovereignty’ comes as Nato members meet earlier this month — build-up to the alliance’s 70th anniversary 2-day summit at Buckingham Palace in London — sought unity in the face of Russia and China — on the frontburner were cyber space and space.

Issues on the table were making space a full domain of conflict — alongside land, sea and air as a new report on how the US-led alliance should approach China and its growing international assertiveness.

The unity of minds (includes China and Russia) against terrorists but without common definition of ‘terrorism’ was also highlighted.

French leader Emmanuel Macron at the meet pointed out that “The common enemy today are the terrorist groups, as we mentioned, and I’m sorry to say that we don’t have the same definition of terrorism around the table”.