As the invasion of Ukraine enters its third day, Russia has blocked access to Twitter in an apparent effort to stifle the flow of information, according to a report by internet monitoring group NetBlocks. As of Saturday morning, NetBlocks failed connections from all major Russian telecom providers, including Rostelecom, MTS, Beeline, and MegaFon. Russians can still access Twitter through VPN services, but direct connections are limited.
The motivation behind the restrictions is unclear, but is part of a broader crackdown on social media platforms in the country. On Friday evening, Russia announced a new block on Facebook after the platform deleted the accounts of four state-owned media outlets, a move the government described as a violation of the “rights and freedoms of Russian citizens”.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Fighting remains fierce across Ukraine as Russian forces focus their attack on the capital Kiev. On Saturday, the capital remained in the hands of the Ukrainian government. According to the country’s health minister, 198 Ukrainians were killed in the fighting and more than 1,000 were injured.
Russian state media presented a heavily disinfected version of the conflict, largely focused on the plight of refugees from the eastern province of Donbass.
Social media platforms painted a more chaotic picture, with disturbing images and videos of the conflict circulating widely. Widely circulated video shows Russian missile hit a residential tower in Kyiv, an apparent violation of international law. Other photos seem to show the use of cluster munitions, although the evidence is not yet verified.
Internet access in Ukraine itself remains active and Twitter has not been blocked in the country itself. Some analysts have raised concerns that Russian forces could seize telecommunications infrastructure and institute an internet blackout as the conflict escalates, but so far blackouts have been sporadic and localized around Kharkiv.