Gaming

EXCLUSIVE Ukraine to seek action against Russia from around 50 gaming, cloud and other tech companies

EXCLUSIVE Ukraine to seek action against Russia from around 50 gaming, cloud and other tech companies

March 2 (Reuters) – Ukraine plans to urge about 50 more technology companies, including in games, esports and internet infrastructure, to take action against Russia following a series of demands earlier, a senior Ukrainian government technology official told Reuters on Wednesday.

Software giant Oracle Corp responded within three hours on Wednesday to a tweet from Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation calling on it to stop doing business in Russia amid Ukraine’s invasion by the country.

Deputy Digital Minister Alexander Bornyakov showed Oracle’s tweet just posted on his phone during the video interview, which said the company had ‘already suspended all operations in the Russian Federation’ . EA Games also announced on Wednesday that it is removing Russian teams from FIFA soccer matches.

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“More sanctions imposed, faster peace,” Bornyakov said of his ministry’s campaign, wearing a hoodie and sitting in front of Ukrainian flags. He said twice a day sirens alerted them to airstrikes and they moved to bunkers.

Oracle did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ukraine has already sought support from around 50 companies since the Russian invasion began last week, Bornyakov said. The outreach, which included tweets from Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov calling on Silicon Valley CEOs to act, helped bring about SpaceX’s Ukrainian Starlink internet satellites from entrepreneur Elon Musk and new media restrictions from State Russians by Alphabet (GOOGL.O) YouTube and other social media services.

Bornyakov said among the companies he wants to see action include Akamai Technologies Inc , which provides cybersecurity and content delivery tools to websites.

Akamai said on Tuesday it would stop serving sanctioned customers, but none of its customers, including Russian airline Aeroflot (AFLT.MM), were subject to U.S. sanctions imposed on Feb. 22.

The ministry also called on Google and Apple Inc (AAPL.O) to close their mobile app stores in Russia, but Bornyakov said the companies were more likely to block downloads of certain apps.

The calls for tech companies are part of a broader Ukraine strategy to isolate Russia and get people to protest the Russian action, which Moscow calls a “special operation”.

A “computer army” of volunteers at home and abroad, partly organized by the digital ministry through the Telegram messaging app, disrupted access to Russian government websites and contacted around 50 million Russian civilians via social media, phone and text messages with information about the invasion, Bornyakov said. Read more

He said these online forces now number more than 250,000 people, who are implementing their own ideas.

“It’s like crypto, it’s decentralized,” he said.

Bornyakov said he was not very concerned about cyberattacks from Russia, saying their infrastructure was weak.

In recent days, the owner of Facebook Meta (FB.O), Twitter (TWTR.N) and YouTube said they had shut down influence operations and hacking efforts targeting Ukraine. Read more

NFT EFFORTS

Ukraine also plans to sell NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, a type of digital asset, to help fund the military, Bornyakov said.

“We will prepare a lot of Ukrainian style images and 3D models. If you buy this NFT, all donations will go to supporting the Ukrainian army and citizens,” he said.

The government has already raised millions in cryptocurrency donations. Read more

Prior to Russia’s invasion, Bornyakov said the technology ministry focused on bringing all government services online. He said those efforts meant he was already working with tech companies like Apple and Microsoft (MSFT.O) on projects like digital passports.

The ministry was also in communication with venture capital funds to invest in Ukrainian startups and wanted big tech companies to open research and development centers on artificial intelligence and virtual reality in Ukraine, he said. added.

That changed with the invasion. “Now we have to move on to a completely different goal. And it’s actually very sad,” he said.

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Reporting by Paresh Dave in Oakland, California, Elizabeth Culliford in New York and Sheila Dang in Dallas, Texas. Additional reporting by Jeffrey Dastin. Editing by Kenneth Li, Kirsten Donovan and Rosalba O’Brien

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