MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is fully prepared if the West decides to try to punish it by disconnecting it from the global internet, a top adviser to President Vladimir Putin said in an interview broadcast on Monday.
Accused by U.S. intelligence agencies of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, which it denies, Russia has already been hit by a slew of U.S. sanctions and is braced for more.
German Klimenko, Putin’s internet adviser, has warned in the past that Western countries could try to lock Russia out of the internet altogether, and that Moscow must be prepared.
He told the state-controlled NTV channel on Monday that Russia was ready. Russian officials had already worked on a special Russian segment of the Internet that was behind a firewall, and Russia has its own search engines, social networks and advertising.
“Yes you can just push a button and turn a country into an outcast,” Klimenko told NTV. “(But) technically we are ready for any action.”
Such a cut-off might cause some initial difficulties because some Russian firms probably stored information abroad despite a law obliging them to keep data in Russia, but otherwise Russia should be fine.
“Even if they declare such a war on us, there is no evidence we wouldn’t be able to live well and normally,” said Klimenko.
Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Peter Graff