Russia has officially started to test the national internet system which would replace the current web and make the nation independent of the global internet network, allowing the government more control over the new web. With this internet network Russia would become like China by creating its own infrastructure network approved by a law signed by President Putin in early 2019.
RuNet, as it would be called the Russian Internet network, would have the opportunity to communicate with the global Internet network but, if necessary, it could detach itself from it and maintain a separate and isolated connection. To the Russian news agency Tass, Putin explained that the creation of this network is part of a purely defensive strategy that would allow RuNet to disconnect from the global internet network if Russia were the victim of a cyber attack.
Putin said that RuNet “only aims to prevent the negative consequences of total disconnection from the global network, which is largely controlled from abroad. This is the point, this is what sovereignty is: having our resources that can be activated so as not to be cut off from the Internet”. The tests of the new Russian internet network have been carried out and, as reported by the BBC , ordinary users have not noticed any disservice or change from normality.
Although the intentions of the Russian government are apparently good, the global internet community looks at RuNet with distrust as it could be a government tool to increase control and censorship of users browsing the net .
Just as China operates with its Great Firewall by censoring websites by monitoring user browsing, so there is a suspicion that Russia wants to do the same with RuNet and that the defensive strategy is only a plausible pretext for creating the internet. Until, however, there are no more specific reports on RuNet’s capabilities and purposes, everything that surrounds this network is likely to be mere speculation.