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Ukraine seeks to boot Russia from the internet

Pro-Ukrainian people wave Ukrainian flags as they shout slogans during a protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Istanbul, Turkey, on March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Pro-Ukrainian people wave Ukrainian flags as they shout slogans during a protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Istanbul, Turkey, on March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

KYIV — Ukraine has effectively asked that Russia be kicked off the internet.

In a letter sent to the president of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, Ukraine’s deputy minister for digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, cited the “atrocious crimes” of Russia’s invasion, including its alleged breach of the Geneva Conventions in attacking civilian targets.

Federov says the crimes “have been made possible mainly due to the Russian propaganda machinery,” and cites cyberattacks “from the Russian side” that have impeded the ability of Ukrainians and their government to communicate.

Federov asks that ICANN revoke, permanently or temporarily, the domains .ru and .su and shut down the root servers in Moscow and St. Petersburg that match domain names and numbers.

“Russian citizens must feel the cost of war,” government spokesperson Oleksandr Ryzhenko says today.

ICANN has no immediate comment, but the regional internet naming authority for Europe and the former Soviet Union, RIPE NCC, rejects the request.

In an email to members, RIPE’s executive board says it believes “the means to communicate should not be affected by domestic political disputes, international conflicts or war.”

Kicking Russia off the internet would be an annoyance to Russian hackers, but it wouldn’t stop them since they could still use different top-level internet domains. But it would badly isolate the Russian public from international discourse.

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