Russia is passing a law to set up systems that will allow them to form a Russia wide intranet that can keep running in the country in case they need to disconnect from the global internet due to foreign aggression or otherwise.
Russian ISPs will have to implement “technical means” to re-route all Russian internet traffic to routers managed by Russia’s telecom watchdog Roskomnazor.
“Roskomnazor will inspect the traffic to block prohibited content and make sure traffic between Russian users stays inside the country,” Zdnet says.
It’s not clear when the test will take place, but it is meant to occur before April 1st, with Russia seemingly setting up a China like Firewall system which allowed China to cut off itself from the global internet in 2012.
A Russian Crypto Fork?
It’s unclear how long this test will last with it unlikely to have an effect on cryptos if it is for just a few minutes or a couple of hours.
Otherwise, just how much it may affect public blockchains would depend on how many cryptonians mine in Russia.
Data on that is lacking, but there are 283 ethereum nodes in Russia, making up 3% of all 8,894 eth nodes. While bitcoin has 287 nodes in Russia, making up 2.7% of all 10,476 bitcoin nodes (pictured).
Bitcoin however has satellite connection through Blockstream with it relatively simple to set up. Even if the internet is cut-off for days, just one node connecting through space would be sufficient to keep Russian bitcoin nodes in sync with global nodes.
For ethereum and other cryptos, on the other hand, there might be a chain-split as global nodes would not be able to connect to Russian nodes, with two histories of transactions potentially forming.
Connecting through a VPN to bypass any artificial internet cut-off might be a way around it, but if a cable is cut or if data is simply not able to get out of the country, then cryptonians in Russia would form their own network for non-bitcoin public blockchains.
That could be a problem depending on how much hash percentage is in the country. Russia’s small number of nodes suggests there’s less hash there than globally, but if it was China, it would be difficult to establish whether the China network or the global network is the “real” crypto in such a scenario.
That could potentially lead to a permanent split, making lower reliance on an internet connection a significant consideration for any public blockchain.