Putin calls the Internet a CIAproject.
If War Came, Russia Prepared to Disconnect from the Internet. Yes, the Entire Country.
Robust internal networks will keep the military and government operating, says Putin’s top IT advisor.
BY PATRICK TUCKERT for DEFENSEONE.COM
A two-year-old effort to allow the Russian military to rely solely on internal networks during wartime has apparently blossomed into support for a digitally isolated government and civil society as well, a top advisor to Vladimir Putin said recently.
In 2016, the government began to operate the Closed Data Transfer Segment, an internal intranet for military and other officials. Klimenko seems to have suggested that the Segment could handle traffic for the rest of the country as well.
The Russian government has long worked to reduce dependence on foreign information technology. (Putin has called the Internet a CIA project.)
In 2010, Russia launched an effort to create a Linux-based operating system to wean the government from Microsoft products. Five years later, the Russian Government mandated that digital data on its citizens be stored on Russian soil, a move perhaps also intended to help keep tabs on the population. Last year (2017), Russia announced that it would build an alternative Domain Name System for use by itself, Brazil, India, China, and South Africa.
Klimenko emphasized that moving to an entirely internal Internet would impose unspecified inconveniences for Russia, and would be “painful.”
That’s understatement, says Samuel Bendett, an associate research analyst at CNA and a fellow in Russia studies at the American Foreign Policy Council. Bendett says that digital isolation is technically possible but not necessarily achievable. For one thing, it would have severe consequences for the Russian economy.
“The key phrase here is that it would be a ‘painful process’ were that to happen in the first place. He is saying that the Russian military and government have their own closed Internet systems,” said Bendett. “But while the military may function with its own JWICS [Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System], isolating the Russian society from the global Internet may be a very difficult, if not impossible, process, considering how much Russian economic and socio-cultural nodes depend on global Internet traffic.”
The announcement follows a series of bellicose statements and moves from the Russian government in recent months. In October of 2017, during the large Zapad military exercise, the Russian government conducted a massive civil defense drill to prepare the population for total war.
Reports exist in the meantime, indicating that the Russian Military is preparing for use of Robotics, artificial intelligence, and a willingness to strike the enemy’s non-military targets if it should come to that, according this the website Defenseone.
The U.S. military isn’t alone in its plans to pour money into drones, ground robots, and artificially intelligent assistants for command and control. Russia, too, will be increasing investment in these areas, as well as space and information warfare, Russian Army Gen. Valery Gerasimov told members of the Russian Military Academy of the General Staff last Saturday. In the event of war, Russia would consider economic and non-military government targets fair game, he said.
The comments are yet another sign that the militaries of the United States and Russia are coming more and more to resemble one another in key ways — at least in terms of hyping future capabilities. The chief of the General Staff said the Russian military is already developing new drones that could perform strike as well as reconnaissance missions. On the defensive side, the military is investing in counter-drone tech and electromagnetic warfare kits for individual troops.
“The objects of the economy and the state administration of the enemy will be subject to immediate destruction”
The Russians are building an “automated reconnaissance and strike system,” he said, describing an AI-drive system that sounds a bit like the Mavenand Data to Decision projects that the United States Air Force is pursuing. The goal, according to Gerasimov, was to cut down on the time between reconnaissance for target collection and strike by a factor of 2.5, and to improve the accuracy of strike by a factor of two. The Russian government is developing new, high-precision strike weapons for the same purpose. “In the future, precision weapons, including advanced hypersonics, will allow for the transfer the fundamental parts of strategic deterrence to non-nuclear weapons,” he said.
Sam Bendett, a research analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses, says the moves signal that the Russian military is trying to push fighting further away from its borders, thus growing the area to which it can deny access, or at least appear to do so. “Russia’s current force composition is aiming at short-range, short-duration conflict where its forces can overwhelm the adversary close to Russian borders. The new technology Gerasimov discusses would allow Russia to conduct deep-strikes within enemy territory, thus ‘pushing’ the actual fighting far from Russian borders and Russian vulnerability to Western precision-guided weapons,” he said.
Gerasimov is, like anyone in a senior military post, a lobbyist as much as a soldier.
What would Gerasimov hit with those weapons? In his talk, the Russian general said that enemy economic and non-military aspects of government could be on the list of potential targets. “The objects of the economy and the state administration of the enemy will be subject to immediate destruction, in addition to the traditional spheres of armed struggle, the information sphere and space will be actively involved,” he told the audience.
Says Bendett, “the use of such technologies is especially important given the type of war Moscow intends to fight. Gerasimov stated that potential adversary’s economic targets, as well as government’s ability to govern, will be fair game. Striking deep into enemy territory can be accomplished more easily by unmanned systems—whether armed with EW, various sensors or strike components … All this also depends on the Russian military-industrial complex’s ability to properly marshal the needed resources in an organized fashion in order to field this technology.”
One other explanation for the tough talk: Russia is hardly an even match for the United States in terms of either military spending or capability. The recently announced $61 billion increase in the U.S. military budget over last year’s budget (bringing the total to $700 billion) is greater than the entire Russian military budget, which sits around $46 billion. That number represents about 2.86 percent of Russian GDP. In December, Putin said that the government would “reduce” future expenditures.
“Gerasimov is, like anyone in a senior military post, a lobbyist as much as a soldier, and at a time when the Russian defense budget is going to continue to shrink, he is doing what he can both to maintain it as high as possible and also to tilt procurement away from older-fashioned metalwork — which is really a way for the Kremlin to subsidise the defence industries rather than what the military want — and towards advanced communications, reconnaissance and targeting capabilities,” said Mark Galeotti, the head of the Center for European Security at UMV, the Institute of International Relations, Prague.
According to Bendett, Russian government leaders are “hedging against impending geopolitical and economic uncertainty by trying to keep their military budget within certain parameters. The [Ministry of Defense] has been talking repeatedly about the rising share of new military tech in service of the Russian military, slowly phasing out older systems in favor of new ones. So the high-tech approach that Gerasimov outlined — space-based weapons, ‘military robots’ — is the next evolutionary stage in Russian military’s evolution to a more high-tech, sophisticated forces capable of rapid strike.”
Gerasimov also took a moment to denounce what he claimed were Western attempts to destabilize the Russian government through information and influence warfare and other subtle tactics. The charge may strike Western audiences as brazenly hypocritical given the Kremlin’s on-going attempts to sow misinformation to global audiences through social media, email theft and propaganda campaigns. But it’s an old talking point for Gerasimov.
Said UMV’s Galeotti: “At a time when the Kremlin is demonstrably worried about what it sees as Western ‘gibridnaya voina‘ [or hybrid war] being waged against it — we don’t have to accept their premises to acknowledge that the Russians genuinely believe this — he is staking out the military’s claims to being relevant in this age. And his answer, as in his infamous 2013 article, and as played out in the first stage of Zapad [the major wargame Russia executed in Belarus last summer] is that the military will deploy massive firepower to smash any foreign incursions meant to instigate risings against Moscow.” Source: Defenseone