Russian defence sector could lose access to Western software

Russians concerned that sanctions could hit support for and even supply of Western software used in its defence sector.

Russian defence sector could lose access to Western software
Russian defence sector could lose access to Western software

Russian defence enterprises may face serious problems getting software support from Western vendors for several years, due to existing sanctions against Russia, according to leading Russian IT and military intelligence analysts.

Recent statements by Vitaly Davydov, chairman of the Scientific and Technical Council of the Russian Foundation for Advanced Studies, (the Russian public association, which specialises in defence R&D), indicate that several vendors from Western countries have already refused to provide support for software which they had supplied to Russian military enterprises.

Davydov says that the current situation is very serious as a significant proportion of the software used by Russian defence enterprises in their day-to-day operations has been supplied from abroad.

This has been confirmed by representatives from the Russian Ministry of Defence who told SCMagazineUK.com that there is a threat that Western suppliers may even attempt to block access to their software by Russian defence enterprises, which may pose a threat to Russia's national security.

Alex Popov, associate professor of the department of  Computer Systems and Networks at the Bauman Moscow State Technical University, (Russia's leading technical university), told SCMagazineUK.com that to date, the largest software vendors, such as Microsoft and IBM among others, have not imposed any restrictions on their Russian operations and software, however there is no guarantee that such a decision will not be taken later, especially in the case of further deterioration of relations between Russia and Western countries.

According to Popov, Russian vendors will be eventually be able to replace Western IT solutions, however  this process will take time, while the quality of these products will likely be lower than their Western analogues.

Meantime, according to an official spokesman of RUSSOFT, the Russian association of software developing companies,  one of the possible options may involve the use of the Linux operating system, as well as some operating systems to be designed within Russia specifically to meet the country's national defence requirements.

RUSSOFT's spokesman said that Russian vendors will do their best to design software for the national defence sector once they receive a firm order from the government.

Igor Korotchenko, chief editor of National Defence magazine, one of Russia's leading magazines in the field of security and defence, agrees that the problem is very serious, explaining how imported software is currently used in the design  and servicing of many precision machine tools,  as well as for combat equipment and weapons produced in Russia.

Korotchenko says that Western countries have databases containing data on all software deliveries to Russia which could potentially be used for the imposition of restrictions.  

Such restrictions could lead to the restoration of the Coordinating Committee on Export Controls, which controlled export of dual-use technologies and weapons to the USSR from Western countries in the past.