The news is dominated by the Ukraine-Russia conflict. On a geopolitical level, this turf war has repercussions in several sectors of activity. This is particularly the case in the field of IT and technology.
Thus, diplomatic sanctions against Russia involve a technological blackout. This side-lining affects many aspects of tech. Let’s remind ourselves of the IT sanctions imposed on Putin and Russian companies.
GAFAM measures against Russia
The tech world is ruled by the most powerful tech groups. For the most part, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft are American firms. The United States has condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine. So it seems an obvious step for their companies to disassociate themselves from Russia. Consequently, Apple has already announced that it will no longer sell its famous Apple brand in Russia. It will therefore no longer be possible to obtain a Mac or to benefit from Apple Store or repair and maintenance services if you are located in Russia. Apple’s reaction has direct repercussions on other lesser known but widely used services, such as the Apple Pay payment system. Russia also finds itself side-lined media-wise due to the withdrawal of the Russian apps RT and Sputnik from the Apple Store.
In the same vein, Facebook (now represented by the Meta group) has blocked Russian access to its social network. For Russian citizens, operating Google services from an Android phone is no longer possible, although it is still possible to access virtual private networks (VPN). Similarly, Snapchat has also shut down its services. Another consequence of the banishment of Russia by Google is the absence of advertising content for all the affiliated platforms and therefore a considerable loss of income for Russian companies. In addition to GAFAM, other groups, such as the Chinese social network Tik Tok, are showing their support for Ukraine.
For the time being, Russia has ways of circumventing GAFAM and is not entirely dependent on the Silicon Valley companies. Indeed it will be happy to settle for local media giants such as Yade and Votante or use its diplomatic relations as leverage to implement the services of Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and Xiaomi.
Withdrawal of equipment manufacturers
In a digital infrastructure, a hardware component and a virtual infrastructure component are required to operate the system. In the technological universe, no country has a monopoly on equipment. Not many firms combine the two components of the digital ecosystem. When it comes to dedicated network infrastructures, it is more common to talk about Cisco or Dell. As a consequence of the Ukraine conflict, Dell and Cisco have announced their withdrawal from the Russian market. In addition, they will also no longer supply equipment to Russian companies. Furthermore, with regard to software, Russia will no longer be able to obtain renewal of its licenses for some essential applications and software. Russia’s technological isolation is exacerbated by a host of software publishers, key among them being Microsoft, Adobe, Oracle and SAP.
Pioneers in the installation and assembly of processors as well as the supply of semiconductors or chips such as IBM, Intel and Sony have also withdrawn from the Russian market. As for the manufacturer Lenovo, a major player in wearables, servers and even supercomputers, its new affiliation with America has also forced it to pull out of Russia.
As then there is banking. Take PayPal for example. Multi-billionaire Elon Musk has chosen to ban Russia from his system. Therefore, Russia’s monetary system can no longer use Xoom or any other service attached to a PayPal account. Financial sanctions also have a technological element, as most banking systems use cryptographic processes to secure monetary transactions.
More specifically, Russia can no longer benefit from the advantages of the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) platform, whose adoption made international banking communications so much easier. As a result, most exports or imports to Russia can be blocked. However, the impact on Putin’s nation is not as negative as it might be, because the SWIFT system is an infrastructure in which Russia has significant control. It goes without saying that a rapprochement with the Chinese system is possible.
Moreover, the United States and Europe are not the only parts of the world to exclude Russia from banking technology resources. Israeli companies renowned for their cutting-edge technologies have also cut Russia off from their networks. Russians can therefore no longer access Fiverr, Wix, Playtika, Tipalti and even Payoneer.
Other tech services
As regards telephony, most mobile phone manufacturers are pulling out of the Russian market. Both iPhones and Samsung phones are unavailable. Netflix and Spotify have also restricted their access and access to Twitter is blocked for Russian Internet users.
Of the Silicon Valley giants, Amazon has increased its sanctions against Russia despite its limited presence in the West. Technically, the shipment of Amazon products to Russia is no longer authorised. In addition, registration as well as access to data stored in the Amazon Web Services cloud computing platform will be unavailable for Russian users. Satellite connections as well as the accounts of subscribers to the Amazon Prime streaming service are also suspended. Cloud computing is clearly essential in the modern digital environment. Consequently, these technological sanctions could have a considerable impact on Russia’s development.