Russian President Vladimir Putin has authorized retaliatory sanctions against individuals and organizations that took action following the illegal invasion of Ukraine.
An executive order issued on Tuesday explains that Russia will retaliate against states and international organizations that acted against Russian interests following the invasion.
As many of Russia’s likely targets have moved away from the country, one element of the countersanctions – the cancellation of trade deals – will not trouble some of those feeling Putin’s wrath.
But the sanctions will also include “a ban on the export of products or raw materials produced or mined in Russia when delivered to sanctioned individuals, or by sanctioned individuals to other individuals.”
It could be serious. Many countries depend on Russian energy exports and could not easily replace them – although if Russia were to stop selling energy to all takers, it would also cut off a major source of its own revenue.
A commodity ban could also bite, as Russia is a source of many minerals and other substances important to high-tech manufacturing supply chains. For example, Russia is a major source of neon gas needed in chip manufacturing processes.
What Putin has planned will be revealed within ten days – the deadline set by the order for the Russian government to publish a list of banned entities.
While the world waits for this list, Ukraine seems to be facing a new Russian threat in cyberspace: the loss of certain routes to the Internet and their replacement by the services of the Russian operator Rostelecom.
Internet monitoring service NetBlocks made the following observations:
⚠️ Confirmed: Measurements indicate that Internet connectivity from provider Skynet (Khersontelecom) in Kherson, Russian-occupied southern Ukraine has been partially restored and redirected through Russian Rostelecom instead of Ukrainian infrastructure.
📰 Background: https://t.co/S0qJQ7CbNv pic.twitter.com/WhlSNODuqw
—NetBlocks (@netblocks) May 1, 2022
It’s unclear exactly how or why the routes were changed, but there are clear advantages for Russia if a state-aligned phone company can observe and/or control traffic to and from Ukraine.
Fortunately, Ukraine may have found an alternative that Moscow cannot control: SpaceX’s StarLink satellite broadband services. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov shared the following information about the use of the service on Monday:
Approximate Starlink usage data: approximately 150,000 daily active users. This is crucial support for Ukraine’s infrastructure and the restoration of destroyed territories. Ukraine will stay connected no matter what. pic.twitter.com/XWjyxPQJyX
— Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) May 2, 2022
He also shared information about repairs to Ukraine’s telecommunications infrastructure in locations near its capital, Kyiv. ®
Base station in Pripyat, Kyiv region. The telecom soldiers continue to restore the internet connection, so you can call your loved ones. pic.twitter.com/jlbCaOBL2R
— Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) May 3, 2022