The Russian government, immersed in a policy of technological sovereignty, this week launched a series of tests to see if its national Internet infrastructure (known in Russia as RuNet) could successfully cope with its ‘disconnection’ from the global Internet and its DNS system.
The experiment, in which not only Russian government agencies but also access providers and technology companies in the country have collaborated, has been described by Putin’s government as “a success”, making RuNet – within a few hours – the largest intranet in the world.
In the words of Alexei Sokolov, deputy director of the Russian Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Media,
“The conclusion is that, in general terms, both authorities and telecommunication operators are ready to respond effectively to possible risks and threats, as well as to ensure the functioning of the Internet and the Russian Unified Telecommunications Network”.
No technical details were revealed about the test approach beyond the fact that several disconnection scenarios were simulated, including one simulating a cyber attack by a foreign power.
Although some people compare RuNet’s isolation with the Chinese ‘Great Firewall’, the Kremlin’s discourse, more than its potential for censorship, focuses on presenting it as a method of self-defense against a US that continues to host most of the global Internet infrastructure.
This test should have taken place in April this year, but was delayed in order to allow time for the passage of a ‘Sovereign Internet Act’ that gives the executive branch the power to isolate RuNet under the guise of national security.
By the way, the date chosen for the disconnection, on the eve of our Christmas Eve, was less problematic than it might seem: Russia is an Orthodox Christian country, so it does not celebrate that holiday until January 7 in our Western calendar.