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‘We want to stop cyber warfare, now we have to convince US & NATO’ - top Kremlin advisor

Russia wants to “prevent the militarization of cyber space” and create international rules that could prevent a new digital arms race, one of Vladimir Putin’s top communications tech advisors has said.

“When humanity realized the horror of biological weapons, it banned them. We are in the same situation right now. 

We should avoid the mistakes of the Atomic Age, when we first armed ourselves sufficiently to destroy each other, and then began to disarm,” said Andrey Krutskikh, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for international cooperation in information security.

“In our wisdom, we should agree not to militarize cyberspace, and set some international ground rules,” added Krutskikh, who was speaking on the sidelines of a Moscow forum dedicated to information tech in modern diplomacy for young Foreign Ministry civil servants.

To this end, Russia believes that the International Code of Conduct for Information Security, which has been developed jointly with China and other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization since 2011, could form a new doctrine.

With its emphasis on digital sovereignty, Krutskikh, who himself has played a key role in drafting it, believes that the document “has the support of BRICS countries, and most of the developing world.”

The ongoing alarm among the Western establishment over hacking by Russia and other foreign powers, demonstrated by immediate pushback against Donald Trump after he cautiously proposed the possibility for cyber cooperation with Moscow, following a meeting with Putin at the G20, suggest that it may currently be a hard sell.

“We have one small task ahead – convincing the United States and NATO members. 

But they need to understand that we are all in the same boat, and must row in the same direction,” says Krutskih, who admits that the current situation is “unhealthy.”

Krutskikh says the main platforms for promoting the new norms should be the UN and the OSCE.

Although he is ambivalent about the recent work of the UN intergovernmental expert panels – which has been functioning “not without difficulties and setbacks” – Krutskikh has invested hope in broader support for a Russian-sponsored information security resolution, which has been backed by 84 members.

He praises the OSCE for establishing “practical” guidelines, so that the members “know who to talk to and what to talk about,” though he says that the international standards themselves still fall short of Moscow’s expectations.

Internally, Krutskikh rejects radical measures such as set deadlines for transition to only Russian-made software and digital equipment, which have been touted by some officials, but believes Russia has to become a bigger industry player to solidify its status in the field.

“We need to protect our markets, our citizens, and how our government operates. We have the mathematicians, engineers, and coders for that in this country,” said Krutskikh. 

“Even as is, others take our opinion into account, talk to us, and look for cooperation… We are a great cyber power, whatever our shortcomings.”


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