It will be a good occasion for the FSB to try to implant some moles in hi-tech western companies.
Between 50,000 and 70,000 Russian IT professionals have left the country in recent weeks, and more plan to follow, according to the Russian Association of Electronic Communications, an organization that promotes online businesses. A Tuesday post by asociation director Sergey Plugotarenko says the exodus is the result of tech …
I read an article somewhere — alas I do not recall the source — that claimed Putin's political career has been largely shaped by profound bitterness at what he felt was the USSR's abandonment of him and his KGB compatriots in East Germany during the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification. In this reading, his rule over post-Soviet Russia has been primarily concerned with correcting what he sees as weakness in the late USSR and the first nine years of post-USSR Russia, and attempting to create a new Russian empire.
There's a scene in Pamela Dean's Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary where Gentian and her father are discussing Gentian's recently-thwarted adversary, who is also The Adversary, if you take my meaning. Gentian says she thinks she hurt his feelings, and her father remarks that "his feelings are permanently hurt". (Milton of course makes a similar observation, at somewhat greater length.)
That's how I imagine Putin. His feelings are permanently hurt, and he's happy to burn the world out of spite.
They already have enough of them and the exodus is not directly to the west but to other former communist countries such as Georgia where being discovery of involvement in pro-Russian activities might carry a slightly higher price.
The fact of the matter for Russia is that it doesn't have enough engineers to maintain the war effort as it is and many of these are leaving if they get the chance. This is the direct consequence of the kleptocracy that has eroded the status that used to be attached to such employment.
"Software is not going to help very much when the wheels come off your invasion. And your trucks. Literally."
Try telling my old manufacturing director that. At the change management boards his first question on being presented with hardware changes was nearly always, "Can't it be fixed in the software?".
I doubt they're welcome in Europe or the US at the moment.
Anyway I recall some article recently saying Russia was panicking over a potential exodus and was basically offering them a 0% tax rate, exemption from military service and other incentives to get them to stay.
On a side note, Russia's annual conscription cycle starts in April. I wonder how many will fail to present themselves for training knowing their likely fate if they do.
How do you know they don't support Putin? For all you know they just want to be paid more money and get out of the shithole that is Russia now.
Same reason that lots of countries have suffered a brain drain. There is also a very real chance that Russia security services would lean on some of them to steal source code and other secrets if they were permitted to work in the West. Why would Western countries want that grief?
Re "how would you know they aren't Putin supporters"
You could ask some tricky questions to see if they fell for Putin's propaganda...
do you think Jews are
d) all of the above
a) a pizza shop
b) a conspiracy theory
c) a basement in Washington where they eat babies brains
d) all of the above
a) a communist
b) a criminal
c) pretty smart actually, and a great friend of mine
I’d read an article somewhere (perhaps Der Spiegel ?) that mentioned that Armenia was one place where small Russian software companies were relocating and reïncorporating. Along with Armenia, I think that there are still flights to Turkey and Georgia (and presumably China and the central Asian -stans, and perhaps other non-aligned countries worldwide) from Russia, so I’d guess that there are still many options for Russian emigrants.
Mexico doesn’t require a visa for Russian citizens, so there’s been an influx of Russians making their way to the Mexico-US border crossing in Tijuana to claim asylum. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/11/us/russians-ukrainians-us-border.html?searchResultPosition=3
"the reviews on this marketplace may not be entirely frank and fearless."
Published reviews might not but the intended market will be quite capable of forming their own views.
However I wonder if Russian idiom lends itself to comments such as "You will be very fortunate to have this operating in your system."
Back in the cold war days, the western countries had what amounted to an embargo of exporting high-tech equipment like computers to the USSR (CoCom), with the covert goal of sabotaging their economy as without IT, it was unable to keep developing its economy to the extent the western countries could. While many factors certainly played a role, the tech embargo strategy seems to have basically worked, and no doubt contributed substantially to what happened in 1989.
In some ways, the situation is similar to today. But how similar? Clearly there are a lot of capable SW developers in Russia (despite some of them leaving), and in contrast to back then, Russia will have plenty of hardware to run the SW on for the foreseeable future.
The question is how self-sufficient Russia is today in terms of high-tech goods and systems - can they make their own computers, servers switches, phones, etc? If they cannot they will in fact be vulnerable to actions like "bricking all iPhones" or being removed from the financial transfer system in the short term, but how long can they survive with the present infrastructure they have imported from abroad? I would suspect a couple of years, at least. I am sure Putin will have worked hard to reduce this vulnerability the past years - so the question is how successful he has been.....in any case the leverage potential short-term to get him to stop warring seems very limited. But longer-term, the impact on Russia could be huge, especially without the help of the Chinese.
There was a good radio program here about Putin falling to the "dictator syndrome".
Basically, like Hitler before (see the "Der Untergang" excellent german movie), he apparently seems to have fallen to isolation plus his own propaganda.
So, he probably has a superbly optimistic view of the situation from up where he stands, same like "we'll walk to Kiev in 3 days", while the situation, on the fields, is quite dramatically different.
Upvote for Der Untergang (better known to English speakers as "Downfall"). A truly excellent movie. Skin-crawling at times and unflinching in its depiction of the horrors of the regime, and what it did to the German population - never mind what it did to the rest of the world.
Also, like Hitler and Stalin, Putin's dislike of negative reports has seen him being provided with, ah, rather irrealisticly optimistic data on just about everything. Especially when those reports get positivicated with every step upwards through the bureaucracy.
I read on another forum, from a Russian uaing a VPN, that they have a shortage of paper - they still like to print lots. Till receipts, official docs, but there's a loo roll shortage too.
But they can't quickly convert to plastic payment - they buy in the credit card plastic and card chips. Lots of the population lack smart phones - but those that do have them dislike QR codes as part of their anti vax beliefs. Not enough CCTV cameras either.
They didn't think to build up a central warehouse of server stuff, hard drives, what have you.
Then they manage this on a region by region basis and the regulations are different between them.
The buck (rouble) needs to stop with that disgusting cretin at the top.
There are shortages of everything and that's been the case for a while, long before this latest act of aggression.
Corruption is now endemic in Russia and is part of the reason they are failing to Blitzkrieg into Ukraine - probably over half the money assigned to modify the Russian army got diverted to pay for yachts and Ferraris.
Putin has if you divide an middle estimate of his personal wealth by the 22 years he's been in power, he's gained over $1m every single hour and he's not alone, everybody at the top has their trotters firmly in the trough - no economy can survive that sort of attrition.
> Back in the cold war days, the western countries had what amounted to an embargo of exporting high-tech equipment like computers to the USSR (CoCom), with the covert goal of sabotaging their economy as without IT, it was unable to keep developing its economy to the extent the western countries could.
As far as I know, it actually was an embargo, and was primarily aimed at making it harder for the USSR to get access to high tech which could be weaponised, especially when it came to things like high-precision tooling or fast computers which could help with things like encryption or nuclear weapon design. I'm not sure these embargos were ever primarily viewed as an economic weapon, though it was no doubt a useful secondary effect.
> The question is how self-sufficient Russia is today in terms of high-tech goods and systems - can they make their own computers, servers switches, phones, etc?
I think the bigger question is: do they actually need to be? China is at the very least an ally of convenience, and with the USA having already applied similar embargos to companies such as Huawei, there's already a lot of Chinese technology which should be generally be fit for purpose, and which the USA has little or no ability to embargo.
Admittedly, the situation is pretty complicated, especially when it comes to how much trust Russia is willing to put into Chinese tech.
And it'll be interesting to see what happens in the long term, as all of these embargos (and the ongoing development of open-source hardware/software) are effectively weaning the rest of the world off US-controlled technology.
But in the short to medium term, a lot of Russians - and their entire economy - is going to be be put through a lot of hardships.
I am sure Putin will have worked hard to reduce this vulnerability the past years - so the question is how successful he has been.
I am at least as sure that not all of the budget for reducing that vulnerability has been used that way, instead reducing the flatness of a few of his oligarch friend's wallets.
"Between 50,000 and 70,000 Russian IT professionals have left the country..."
"...plans to create local versions of imported technologies that Russians can no longer buy..."
My tinfoil hat might be on a little too tight today. However, this seems like an ideal opportunity for Russia to export a few loyal software developers with the intention of infiltrating Western tech companies. Maybe re-appropriate some source code to use in creating those 'local versions'??
Or worse... Implant back doors, logic bombs, or other such cyber vulnerabilities in to Western software.
Western tech companies should be extremely wary of any Russian ex-pats seeking positions with access to core technologies.
>Western tech companies should be extremely wary of any Russian ex-pats seeking positions with >access to core technologies.
your point is well taken, but in much the same way the oligarchs prefer the European lifestyle where they have their villas, park their yachts and send their kids to private swiss schools (as seen everywhere in "Londongrad",) do we really think these Russian techie ex-pats are all (or even any of them) agents of Putin? what's in it for them? perhaps they are also happy to just enjoy a better standard of living based on their in-demand skills and also get out of Russia where from a quality of life point of view things will no doubt get harder in the years to come.
That said, nothing more melancholy that a Russian away from the motherland....they really can't win.
"...what's in it for them? perhaps they are also happy to just enjoy a better standard of living ...
You are absolutely correct. Quality of life is a compelling reason to leave Russia.
Starting over somewhere else will be financially difficult. I imagine it will be a lot easier with financial assistance, like some discrete payments from their former country. A few hundred thousand dollars is a lot cheaper than millions of rubles for engineering development.
This is not secret agent spy stuff from the Cold War with dead drops on a park bench in the middle of the night. Send privacy coins to a cryptocurrency wallet. Receive a decryption key to a publicly posted encrypted file containing the source code. All from the anonymous comfort of a coffee shop with a throw away laptop.
We preach diversity. We forget that ethical diversity also exists, and non-Westerners may not share the same ownership standards for intellectual property. A Russian ex-pat may not see such behavior as a problem, only as a means to an end.
A Western lifestyle along with financial stability? I would say there is a lot in it for them.
A lot of these people are employed by Western businesses. Some of those Western businesses have offered their Russian tech employees an out. At the foundational level, the maths, engineering and CS education is still strong in Russia. They create a lot of talent, and a lot of that talent would rather get fat and rich, in the West, rather than work in a kleptocracy. What we see today is merely an acceleration of what was happening already.
Anecdotally (and so I am loath to believe) people are being stopped by police in Russia and being required to unlock their mobile phone for inspection for forbidden apps and use in messaging of forbidden words.
The same rumours suggest similar activities at points of exit from Russia, possibly with a focus on those whose job is IT related.
I understand one driver of the move to depart is to avoid the possibility of military call-up.