RSF denounces Russia’s digital colonization of Ukraine

Reporters Without Borders warns of Russia’s digital colonization of Ukraine. In some regions, Moscow has taken control of the networks.

This is a phenomenon that was observed shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine broke out. In localities that came under the influence of Moscow, Internet traffic was redirected by the occupier. Instead of using Ukrainian networks, connections now go through Russian infrastructure.

The Kherson region in the south of the country was the illustration of this battle for control of the networks. This oblast, located just north of Crimea, has been under military occupation and forced “Russification” march since March: distribution of passports to the population, installation of the ruble and broadcasting of Russian public TV.

All these maneuvers appear as the prelude to a future annexation of the region, in the same way that the oblasts of Donetsk, Luhansk, but perhaps also those of Zaporijzhia, Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk are threatened. The whole east and south of the country could thus be integrated into Russia. And this also involves colonization by telecommunications networks.

A digital colonization of Ukraine

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) denounces it ” digital colonialism in a statement dated 6 July 2022. The organization for the freedom of the press is under no illusions: Internet traffic is an essential step in establishing Russian dominance over the area, limiting the possibility for the population to read information outside the control of the Kremlin.

Access to independent Russian and Ukrainian sites, as well as to most social networks, including Facebook, is therefore limited or even impossible depending on the local situation. The unstable connection and limited bandwidth pose further obstacles to connecting and learning online “, Comments RSF.

Russian maneuvers on Ukrainian networks have been observed since the start of the war. // Source: CommScope

Kherson Oblast normally has nearly one million people: the number of civilians still in the region today is difficult to estimate, due to the war and the movement of people to escape it. At the end of June, the media reported the departure of many people from the city of Kherson. Half of the inhabitants have already fled.

The most recent maps show that the front line of the Russian advance is overflowing beyond the Kherson Oblast, a sign that the Ukrainian army is retreating and that for now it is no longer able to regain a lasting foothold in the region. At the beginning of May, the authorities had managed to regain control of the Internet in the capital, after an initial hijacking.

RSF notes that Russia does not yet have a ” perfect command of the network, which is described as dense and complex. The organization also indicates an ongoing presentation on the mobile side. Two Russian companies, Volna Mobile and Win Mobile, are present in the Kherson and Melitopol regions. On the fixed side, Miranda Media and Rostelecom are around.

For further

Source: CommScope

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