With the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, many companies including Samsung, Apple, Microsoft, and many more have already halted operations and sales in Russia. On Friday, US-based internet provider, Cogent Communications, claimed that it would be cutting ties with Russian-based telecoms Rostelecom and TransTelekom.
Cogent is a major internet backbone provider and its withdrawal from Russia would have a major impact on the country’s internet infrastructure.
In a statement, Cogent claimed that the company conducted a risk analysis that even though some people will lose internet connectivity, the Russian government taking advantage of Cogent’s services in spreading false information, propaganda, and cyberattacks.
CEO Cogent Dave Schaeffer in a comment to the Washington Post said:
Our goal is not to hurt anyone. It’s just to not empower the Russian government to have another tool in their war chest.
Executive Director of the Internet Protection Society in Russia, Mikhail Klimarev, commented:
I am very afraid of this. I would like to convey to people all over the world that if you turn off the Internet in Russia, then this means cutting off 140 million people from at least some truthful information. As long as the Internet exists, people can find out the truth. There will be no Internet — all people in Russia will only listen to propaganda.
For a long time, Russian forces have tried to hack into the Ukrainian computer networks. Despite such activities, Ukraine’s internet infrastructure has withstood many attacks, with the government going as far as forming an ‘IT Army’ to combat Russian cyber forces.
During the conflict, Ukrainian citizens have relied mostly on instant messaging services such as Telegram for sharing news and official updates from the government. Moreover, hacktivists have also been helping during the conflict, with their actions often undermined by other war effects.