According to a report from the internet monitoring group NetBlocks, as the invasion of Ukraine enters its third day, Russia has banned access to Twitter in an apparent attempt to suppress the flow of information. Every major Russian telecom operator, including Rostelecom, MTS, Beeline, and MegaFon, had failed or substantially throttled connections as of Saturday morning, according to NetBlocks. Russians may still use VPN services to access Twitter, but direct connections are blocked.
The ban has been confirmed by journalists on the ground in Russia. “This message got through, although it took a while,” a BBC correspondent said, describing access as “severely constrained.”
The reasons for the limitations are unknown, but they come amid a larger crackdown on social media sites in the nation.
On Friday night, Russia imposed a fresh Facebook block after the site erased the accounts of four state-run media groups, a move the Kremlin denounced as a breach of “Russian people’ rights and freedoms.”
“We are aware that Twitter is being limited for certain individuals in Russia, and we are working to maintain our service safe and accessible,” Twitter stated in a tweet. When The Verge sought for comment, Twitter forwarded them to the aforementioned tweet.
Fighting continues to rage across Ukraine, with Russian soldiers focusing their efforts on the capital city of Kyiv. The capital was still in the hands of the Ukrainian authorities as of Saturday. According to the country’s health minister, 198 Ukrainians have been killed and over 1,000 have been injured in the conflict.
Russian official media has given a substantially sanitised depiction of the conflict, focusing mostly on the misery of refugees fleeing the province of Eastern Donbas.
Social media sites have portrayed a more chaotic picture, with frightening photographs and videos from the battle being circulated. In one widely distributed video, a Russian missile appears to have struck a residential apartment complex in Kyiv, thus violating international law. Other photographs appear to reveal the deployment of cluster bombs, while the information remains unconfirmed.
Internet connectivity in Ukraine remains functioning, and Twitter is not prohibited in the nation. Some commentators have expressed fear that if the conflict escalates, Russian forces may capture telecom equipment and impose an internet blackout, although so far disruptions have been intermittent and restricted to Kharkiv.