Russia redirects Internet traffic in occupied Ukraine to its infrastructure

Russia redirects Internet traffic in occupied Ukraine to its infrastructure

The Russian flag flies with the Spasskaya Tower of the Moscow Kremlin in the background in Moscow, Russia February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

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KYIV, May 2 (Reuters) – Russia has redirected internet traffic in Ukraine’s occupied Kherson region through Russian communications infrastructure, internet service disruption monitor NetBlocks said on Monday.

The move seemed aimed at tightening Moscow’s grip on a region it claims to have taken full control of. Russian-appointed authorities in parts of Kherson said the region would start using the Russian ruble on May 1.

London-based NetBlocks said it tracked a near total blackout in the Kherson region on Saturday that affected various Ukrainian suppliers. The connection was restored after several hours, but various measurements showed that the traffic was now passing through Russia.

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“Connectivity on the network was routed through Russian internet instead of Ukrainian telecom infrastructure and is therefore likely now subject to Russian internet regulation, surveillance and censorship,” NetBlocks said on its website.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on Sunday that Russian moves in the region are “probably indicative of Russian intent to wield strong political and economic influence in Kherson over the long term.”

He pointed to statements about the use of the ruble and rejections of the possibility of a return of the region to Ukrainian control.

Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of what Russia calls the “regional civil-military administration” of Kherson, told Russian news agency RIA on Thursday that a four-month window in which the Ukrainian hryvnia and the Russian ruble were both in circulation would begin on May 1.

Ukraine admits it has lost control of most of the Kherson region, including the eponymous regional capital, but says its armed forces are repelling Russian attempts to reach the province’s borders.

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Reporting by Max Hunder and Tom Balmforth; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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