Mapping the routes of the Internet for geopolitics: The case of Eastern Ukraine

A team of French and US researchers has just published a paper about the geopolitical significance of data routing, through the analysis of Eastern Ukraine. Their paper proposes “new methodologies to understand and represent the new forms of power rivalries and imbalances that occur within the lower layers of cyberspace.”

“We [selected] Eastern Ukraine as a case study as in 2020, six years after the beginning of the war in Donbas, data is available to analyze and map changes to data routing,” write the authors.

Conducting “a longitudinal analysis of Ukraine’s connectivity through the capture and analysis of  Border Gateway Protocol announcements,” the study shows how Donbas autonomous Internet systems “progressively migrated from Ukraine’s cyberspace towards Russia, while still sharing connections with Ukrainian systems.”

“Donbass cyberspace therefore sits at the interface of Ukraine and Russia but has been relegated to the periphery of both networks; it is marginalized from the Ukrainian network but not fully integrated into the Russian network. These evolutions both reflect and affect ongoing geopolitical power rivalries in the physical world and demonstrate their strategic significance,” the authors conclude.

Limonier, K., Douzet, F., Pétiniaud, L., Salamatian, L., & Salamatian, K. (2021). Mapping the routes of the Internet for geopolitics: The case of Eastern Ukraine. First Monday, 26 (5). Click here to read the paper.

Topics: Analysis & opinion, International, Internet
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