The Russian government can cut off internet throughout the country and still keep communications active through a robust internal network in case of a crisis like war. This effort started off as a way to support an isolated government and military but now has mushroomed into the civilian population as well.
In an interview last week, Russian president Vladimir Putin's top IT adviser Herman Klimenko said that they are ready for any action now and that a shift to their internal systems would not be painless, reports Defense One (DO).
The Closed Data Transfer Segment (CDTS) is an intranet network originally built for the military and the government. Klimenko hinted at this system being big enough to handle civilian traffic as well.
This is not the first time that the Russian government has attempted to rid itself of foreign, namely western technology. The DO report mentions that Putin once called the internet a CIA project. Russia had also developed its own Linux-based OS to replace all their government systems away from Microsoft products in 2010.
In the following years, the government made it compulsory for all digital data of its citizens be stored inside Russia. Last year, Russia reportedly announced an alternative domain name system for the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) countries.
However, Klimenco did lay emphasis that such a move to an intranet would cause a great deal of inconvenience to the Russian people. He reportedly called such a move "painful".
"The key phrase here is that it would be a 'painful process' were that to happen in the first place. He is saying that the Russian military and government have their own closed Internet systems," said Samuel Bendett, an associate research analyst at CNA and a fellow in Russia studies at the American Foreign Policy Council to DO.
While technically possible, a move like this might not really be achievable without severe consequences to the Russian economy.
"But while the military may function with its own JWICS (Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System), isolating the Russian society from the global Internet may be a very difficult, if not impossible, process, considering how much Russian economic and socio-cultural nodes depend on global Internet traffic."