The raging war between Russia and Ukraine seemingly has the technological front at its core. Recently, a Russian cyberattack downed Ukraine’s biggest telecom and broadband internet provider, Ukrtelecom, to disrupt the country’s connectivity. Meanwhile, Russia is getting ready for another Western firm’s exit, which might force the former to rework its digital surveillance infrastructure.
Finnish tech firm Nokia joins many other organizations in ostracizing Russia for its ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Earlier this month, CEO Lundmark announced cutting off the company’s ties with the invading nation as per the latest sanctions. According to the NY Times, Nokia would also leave behind some equipment crucial for Russia’s SORM surveillance tool.
SORM has helped Putin’s government monitor opposition figures such as Alexei Navalny. Until now, Nokia provided the technological essentials for connecting SORM to the country’s biggest telecom provider, MTS. However, this seamless infrastructure could potentially face trouble as sanctions oblige Nokia to suspend its business with Russia.
As the West steadily piles on the pressure with a cascade of sanctions, the Putin-led government has reportedly decided to bring the Ukrainian population offline. Russia is now possibly trying to win over information warfare after restricting American tech giants, including Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
Going all out to win the Information Warfare
Putin’s government previously blocked American platforms, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google News in the country for allegedly peddling biased misinformation. This allows the ruling party to share its war perspective with the Russian citizens.
Moreover, carrying out cyberattacks on Ukraine’s largest telecom firm effectively slows down any information from spreading there. This strategy allows Russia to control the information its citizens consume and cause an information scarcity in enemy territory at the same time.
As things stand, the Putin-led charge is working on getting the upper hand in this information warfare, both domestically and behind enemy lines. Simultaneously, the government faces the challenge of keeping an eye on opposition leaders without further reliance on Western technology. Naturally, we’ll have to wait and see how Russia’s current strategy plays out during economic turmoil.
Do you think technology and propaganda are now as crucial in a war as military strength? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.