The Russian Internet suffers as Cogent’s backbone network gets disconnected

The Russian Internet suffers as Cogent's backbone network gets disconnected
pic credit: CNET

Cogent Communications informed its Russian clients on Friday that its high-capacity internet service had been terminated as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing economic sanctions imposed on most of the rest of the globe.

According to network monitoring and analysis firm Kentik, “In light of the unjustified and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Cogent is terminating all of your services effective at 5 PM GMT on March 4, 2022,” the US corporation announced in an email to customers. “Cogent is unable to continue to supply you with service due to the economic penalties imposed as a result of the invasion, as well as the increasingly uncertain security situation.”

The decision does not imply that Russia is without internet connectivity, but it does indicate that a significant traffic artery has been cut off. Cogent operates fiber optic networks between and among cities in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa totaling more than 100,000 miles.

The Russian disconnection by Cogent is a fresh step toward a “splinternet,” a fragmented internet infrastructure that some online giants fear would reduce the utility of the global communication technology. Many services have been censored and blocked by China’s Great Firewall for years. Russia began censoring Facebook on Friday.

“The network of Cogent isn’t the only way out of Russia. If everyone else does the same, the internet will become more vulnerable and less integrated “said Andrew Sullivan, CEO of the Internet Society, a non-profit dedicated to ensuring that everyone in the world has access to the internet.

Belarus, a neighbor of both Ukraine and Russia that served as a staging region for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has been the object of certain international activities. Cogent said of its network changes, “At this moment, we have made no changes with respect to Belarus.”

Internet advocates want the network to stay up and operating in Russia, in part because shutting it down would make it more difficult for regular Russians to learn about what’s going on in Ukraine from sources other than Russia’s tightly controlled state-owned media.

Last Monday, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an international group that supervises some basic parts of internet operations, rejected a Ukrainian request to cut Russia off from data-routing technology, such as the ability to internet addresses.

Because of the internet’s decentralized design, ICANN lacks the technological capability to do so, but the organization must stay impartial to maintain worldwide trust, according to CEO Göran Marby.

“We take steps to ensure that the Internet’s operations are not politicized, but we do not have the right to impose sanctions. ICANN was created to guarantee that the Internet functions properly, not to utilize its coordination position to prevent it from doing so “Marby said.

Computing and electronic services are becoming more difficult in Russia, in addition to Cogent’s network disconnection. Financial transaction processing services were cut off by PayPal, Mastercard, and Visa.

Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Intel, and Adobe have all announced that they will no longer sell their technology in Russia. Companies from outside Russia will find it considerably more difficult to do business in Russia now that the SWIFT international money transfer system has been shut down.

Source: CNET

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