Russia Goes Rogue

Grind for February 15th, 2019
“A throne is only a bench covered with velvet.”

– Napoleon Bonaparte

Proceed With Caution

The Headline

Pompeo warns Hungary to stay away from China and Russia

The Grind

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week began a tour of Central Europe designed to improve America’s ties with the region and to mitigate growing Chinese and Russian influence there.

His tour started in Hungary, where he warned leaders to be wary of Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

“Beijing’s handshake sometimes comes with strings, strings that will leave Hungary indebted both politically and economically,” warned Pompeo during a press conference in Budapest.

Huawei, which controls nearly 30% of the global telecom equipment market, already serves about 70% of Hungary’s population.

Huawei’s products will soon be banned in the US if Trump goes through with a directive that would block wireless networks from using Chinese equipment.

The Details

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto balked at Pompeo’s warning, pointing out that Hungary’s trade relationship with China represents less than 2% of the EU’s. “It is not us that will be game-changers in the relationship between the Western world and China,” he said.

Pompeo also expressed concerns regarding Hungary’s plans to build a $13.6 billion nuclear plant funded by a long-term loan from Russia – an agreement which could leave Hungary dependent on Russia.

On a lighter note, Szijjarto suggested Hungary was ready to sign a long-awaited defense cooperation agreement with the US and expressed interest in purchasing missiles.

Say What??

The Headline

Russia will soon disconnect itself from the World Wide Web

The Grind

In an experiment designed to test its cybersecurity capabilities, Russia is planning to temporarily disconnect itself from the global Internet.

The shutdown, which will occur sometime before April, will test the resilience of local networks and give Moscow an idea of how much traffic they can expect to bypass security walls.

From my point of view, Russia’s test is a sobering reminder that global internet may not always be a guarantee. But it’s also proof that Russia is preparing for a circumstance in which it must depend on its own Internet.

The Background

In 2017, Moscow announced plans to handle most of its Internet traffic locally by 2020. This would make Russia independent from the rest of the world and ramp up Moscow’s ability to censor online content.

A new law supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin requires all Russian IPs to direct traffic through government-approved servers

As reported earlier this month, Google has agreed to comply with Russian censorship laws requiring it to filter controversial topics from search results. Those topics include pornography, drugs, political extremism, pirated media, and unlicensed gambling.

“The news of online censorship anywhere in the world is troubling,” notes Futurism journalist Dan Robitzski. “Unfortunately for tech giants like Google that want to expand into new markets, complying with censorship laws might just be the price of admission.”

Did you know… In 2012, a national survey found that 51% of people thought stormy weather affected cloud computing.