An adviser to President Vladimir Putin has raised the prospect that the West may seek to disconnect Russia from the global Internet and said that Moscow is ready to deal with such a development if it occurs.
Western governments have not issued such a threat, but German Klimenko, Putin's Internet adviser, contended on March 5 that it was a possibility.
"Yes, you can just push a button and turn a country into an outcast," Klimenko said in an interview with pro-Kremlin television network NTV. "Technically, we are ready for any action."
Putin frequently portrays the United States and other Western countries as adversaries bent on weakening Russia. Klimenko's comments came ahead of a March 18 election that appears certain to hand Putin a new six-year term
Russia has been accused of carrying out cyberattacks and of using the Internet -- particularly social networks such as Facebook and Twitter -- to attempt to sow discord and interfere in elections in the West.
Klimenko 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 NTV that Russian authorities have established a special Russian segment of the Internet that is behind a firewall and noted that Russia has its own search engines, social networks, and advertising.
Klimenko said a cutoff from the global Internet might cause some initial difficulties because some Russian firms probably still store information abroad, despite a law obliging them to keep data in Russia. But otherwise Russia should be fine, he said.
"Even if they declare such a war on us, there is no evidence we wouldn't be able to live well and normally," Klimenko told NTV.
Based on reporting by Reuters and Interfax