Nominet suspends 'single digit' number of Russian dot-UK domain registrars

Does not wish to 'profit' from 'commercial arrangements' in Russia

Nominet, the dot-UK domain registry, has announced that it will suspend services for Russian web domain registrars – and the British government says it "welcomes" the action.

Suspension will prevent the registrars from managing or renewing dot-UK domains they own or control.

"We are not accepting registrations from registrars in Russia – we are suspending the relevant tags. To avoid compromising outlets for expression outside the control of the regime, the very small number of domains with Russian address details will continue to operate as normal," said the organisation in a statement on its website.

The news has not gone down well within some in the member-led organisation, which operates the dot-UK registry as a government-sanctioned monopoly. We are told by informed sources that there is a single-digit number of active Russian registrars in Nominet's ranks, managing around a score of domains.

It is unclear what impact, if any, the suspension of registrar tags will have either on Russian organisations helping their country's invasion of Ukraine or in boosting Ukrainian morale.

"There's nothing to stop a Russian registrar simply registering domains via a reseller for example so it doesn't actually achieve anything," one well-placed observer said.

RIPE NCC, the regional network coordination centre, said last week that it would not go ahead with Ukraine's request to withdraw IPv4 and IPv6 addresses from Russian entities, saying "we cannot take such action unilaterally."

It continued: "We further believe that internet number resource registrations should not be used as a means to enforce political outcomes, and that doing so would have serious implications for the internet, not just in the Russian Federation but also for the rest of the world."

In a statement Nominet representatives told The Register today: "Domains linked to Russian based registrants will operate as normal, in keeping with the internet being as open as possible.

"We have taken the decision that due to the extraordinary circumstances, we do not want to profit from commercial arrangements or investments in Russia at this time. We have made a significant donation to the humanitarian aid effort."

A spokeswoman for the UK government's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which has an interest in British internet, said: "Nominet is a private company and its operations are a matter for Nominet and its members, however we welcome the actions it and other businesses are taking in response to this crisis."

The move may or may not provoke retaliation from Russia. While some may compare it to the London Internet Exchange (Linx) announcing on Friday that it would stop peering traffic with certain Russian entities, those at least were subject to formal sanctions. ®

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