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War Accelerates Russia’s Internet Isolation

Putin has long been preparing a break from the Western internet, and his Ukraine invasion is a turning point.
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Illustration: Avalon Nuovo for Bloomberg Businessweek

The Russian internet began shrinking rapidly when the country’s troops poured across Ukraine’s border in February. First Facebook and Twitter got slower, then the government blocked them entirely. TikTok is now restricting service, and Apple, Dell, Microsoft, and Oracle are curtailing operations. Russian internet users can no longer count on being able to use Amazon’s or Netflix’s streaming video platforms, web-enabled services such as Airbnb, or payment networks like Visa and Mastercard.

The shutdowns—some imposed by the Russian government, others by foreign-based corporations—are unlikely to ease up soon. “Now every day something new is being shut down,” says Anastasia Ermolaeva, a teacher in Moscow. “I’m worried a lot about being completely cut off from the rest of the global internet.”