back to article Microsoft is Putin a stop to Russian-sanctions-busting IT resellers

Microsoft is investigating how some of its products were sold to businesses and government offices within Russia and Crimea despite strict sanctions against such sales. El Reg understands the American software giant has been probing these sanctions-dodging allegations for some time now, and that the products in question are …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Most amusing.

      The Point of sanctions is not ot stop you getting things completely but to make it difficult and expensive to get hold of those things that are banned. Physically stopping such trade would require a full blown Blockade (and in the digital world it would be effectively impossible without cutting cables).

      Sanctions are about adding an economic cost to a nations Actions, and because thats usually all politicians care about it often works. Not always. But relatively often. If nothing else, it certainly puts a good hand brake on an affected economy.

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        1. Throatwobbler Mangrove

          Re: Most amusing.

          "I personally disagree with sanctions, because they're indiscriminate: They affect (and punish) everyone in society"

          This is just factually incorrect. The sanctions in relation to Russia are not country-wide sanctions. They are highly targeted against a couple of industries and then a series of key individuals and corporations. It remains entirely legal to trade with, lend money to, and invest in the vast majority of Russian businesses.

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          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Most amusing.

            They are highly targeted against a couple of industries and then a series of key individuals and corporations.

            When you "highly target" your sanctions against the key economic players, your intent is clear - it is collective punishment. The rest is just the sugar-coating to make you feel better about yourself by pretending you are not indiscriminately hurting innocent bystanders.

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Most amusing.

      Referring to Zimbabwe somehow confirm that sanctions might actually have worked.

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  2. Milton Silver badge

    But if you wanted to weaken Russian computer security

    If you actually want to weaken Russian infosec - which is a principal mission of NSA, for one - surely you'd be more than happy to have them using Microsoft stuff? Why give them incentives to switch to more secure (i.e. any other) OSs and software?

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: But if you wanted to weaken Russian computer security

      surely you'd be more than happy to have them using Microsoft stuff?

      Sure. And not merely for the alleged insecurity - It's easier than ever to kick the MS Windows habit - they might even chip in enough to get ReactOS more complete.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: But if you wanted to weaken Russian computer security

      If you actually want to weaken Russian infosec - which is a principal mission of NSA, for one - surely you'd be more than happy to have them using Microsoft stuff?

      May the reverse would be a better idea? Give it away to them and the 5-Eyes can have all the data they can slurp.

  3. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    Impossible sanctions

    For the mass market products such as Windows and Office that just need keys to activate a free download the sanctions are impossible to enforce. Anyone can go into the local equivalent of PC World and buy a key for Windows or Office then send the key by email to someone in Russia. At most it would add a pound or two to the cost of the product.

  4. Walter Bishop Silver badge
    Big Brother

    When did theRegister turn into Faux News ..

    "These restrictions are part of a raft of sanctions brought against President Putin's nation by America for annexing Crimea back in 2014"

    If I wanted to read neocon waffle then I would tune into Faux News. A little dose of reality. It was Washington that organized a coup against the democratically elected president of Ukraine. When are we going to impose sanctions on the US for destabilizing: Afghanistan, Iraq, Lybia, Syria etc, not to mention the overthrow of numerous governments in South America, Africa and Asia. Not to mention manipulating elections in Australia, New Zealand and taping the phones of their NATA allies.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When did theRegister turn into Faux News ..

      Get lost, Ivan, you are busted!

    2. Pompous Git Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: When did theRegister turn into Faux News ..

      "When are we going to impose sanctions on the US for destabilizing: Afghanistan, Iraq, Lybia, Syria etc, not to mention the overthrow of numerous governments in South America, Africa and Asia. Not to mention manipulating elections in Australia, New Zealand and taping the phones of their NATA allies."
      We won't of course; the Coca Colonies will all fall into line to avoid being invaded; for their own good of course. Have a beer...

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      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't bother, Walter: The number of people taking blue pills in the UK / US ...

        Don't be so simplistic. In our advanced capitalist economies, we have many different choices of blue pill to take: all different shapes and sizes, logos, shades of blue, and even different flavours and packaging types. Of course many people here like them, especially in comparison to your boring red ones... you don't even have a choice of raspberry vs strawberry. And none of yours are triangular!

  5. dnicholas Bronze badge

    People in Russia pay for software? o.O

  6. Lars Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Установка Linux, Дмитрий!

    Installing Linux, Dmitry!

    Very funny, or is it Shaun.

  7. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Pirate

    Won't work Redmond

    You can go to virtually any 'project' in Russia and find someone selling Windows. You name the version and they'll have it including license keys.

    This has been the case for more than 20 years. There are periodic crack downs but all they do is mean that there is a slightly bigger exchange of Backsheesh between the windows sellers and the police.

    Russians have had decades of experience of breaking sanctions. When the USSR fell apart hundreds if not thousands of DEC, HP, IBM, SUN etc systems were discovered all over Russia. Some of those companies made lots of money keeping them running for quite a long time.

    Russian IT people are some of the most resourceful in the world. They won't take no for an answer.

    They will find a way to make stuff work.

    Sanctions especially when it comes to Russia don't work. MS is being very stupid (not new there then) if they think that they can stop it.

    1. dnicholas Bronze badge

      Re: But Angela has a working brain...

      Not sure MS cares if they make a sale, they are compelled

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    3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Won't work Redmond

      "MS is being very stupid (not new there then) if they think that they can stop it."

      MS isn't trying to stop it, and MS is anything but stupid here.

      MS, as an American company, is trying to show that they are complying with official US policy. The US government is a) a good customer and b) can make life difficult for MS if it chooses to do so.

      1. Ole Juul Silver badge

        Re: Won't work Redmond

        Indeed, Microsoft would rather you use a pirated version of their OS than use Linux.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    President Putin's nation

    These restrictions are part of a raft of sanctions brought against President Putin's nation by America ...

    I realize this is just a bit of mild trolling in the best El Reg's tradition - but I'll bite anyways. Russia is not a President Putin's nation - in any event not any more than the U.S. is President Trump's nation, or Toronto was a Ford nation when that crack- and booze-addicted deviant was running it.

    Treating an entire proud and resourceful nation as an enemy to be contained can have only one effect: it will become your enemy, and it will unite around its leadership, even if most people don't like or trust their leaders very much. The two very prominent cases in point are Cuba and Iran - which both have been under crippling US sanctions for generations. The only thing these sanctions achieved was to prop up the regimes which most likely would have fallen by themselves without the US helpfully obliging by supplying a very visible and loud external threat.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Russia is not a President Putin's nation ... not any more than the U.S. is Trump's

      So let us now go and research all about opposition political parties and campaign groups in Russia, and compare and contrast their role, strength, and freedom to criticise the government with their counterparts in the US.

      Only then will we be able to make an informed decision regarding your claim.

      1. Hans 1 Silver badge
        IT Angle

        Re: Russia is not a President Putin's nation ... not any more than the U.S. is Trump's

        Well, in the US and in Russia, people are detained on political grounds.

        Russia is more sensitive to opposition, mainly due to ex-KGB president/tsar, so you have more political prisoners in Russia than in the US and opposition members enjoy slightly more freedom in the US ... simply different shades of gray ...

        Both countries interfere internationally with different regimes, the US is not scared of interfering with states far from its borders, Russia prefers states close to its borders (for historical reasons).

        The US has managed to be seen as a peacemaker, although it has waged more wars over the past 70 years than all other nations on the planet combined.

        The US is also the nation that has imposed economic servitude on most other nations on the planet by imposing its currency on world markets and defending it with military might, in other words, wars ...

        Russia is more subtle, they avoid waging wars, except Afghanistan, Georgia, and Ukraine, they prefer interfering with regimes discreetly, manage to stir up unrest and position their mates as the heads of states. This failed in Ukraine and Georgia, hence the massive supply of Russian arms to the "uprising" folk. I doubt US would have any incentive to interfere with Ukraine or Georgia (NO, NOT the USian state, the other one) ...

        My $0.02

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Russia is not a President Putin's nation ... not any more than the U.S. is Trump's

        So let us now go and research all about opposition political parties and campaign groups in Russia, and compare and contrast their role, strength, and freedom to criticise the government with their counterparts in the US.

        You are conflating two separate issues here. We are in full agreement that under its current regime, Russia is much less free and open than many other countries (obviously including the US, the UK, and every singe EU country). It is also much less free and open (and also less chaotic, and probably safer for most of its citizens - but that's a discussion for another day) than it used to be just twenty years ago.

        That all is very sad (probably more so to me than to you - I happen to be a Russian citizen and have relatives living there, even if I have not lived there myself for a long time; you would appear not to have a close connection to Russia - and please accept my apologies if you do). It is also to a large extent the fault of Mr. Putin and his immediate entourage. Again, we appear to be in a full agreement on this subject.

        However, all this still does not make Russia a President Putin's nation. Let's go with the Oxford dictionary definition:

        <quote>

        nation

        1 A large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular state or territory.

        ‘the world's leading industrialized nations’

        </quote>

        You will note that the definition does not say anything about this body of people sharing the political beliefs and aspirations (that would be a political party, not a nation). When you refer to Russia as the "President Putin's nation" you tar all Russians with the same brush - those supporting the current regime, and those opposing it, and the silent majority - which, like in every other country does not give a damn as long as their bread and circuses keep coming.

        This is unfair. Like every unfair action, it makes the target resent and oppose you - even if that person agrees with your opinion on the matter, and would have supported you if you would have taken a different approach. This is exactly why sanctions so rarely if ever achieve the desired effect: by bundling me up together with my political opponents, you are telling me that you are not my friend, since you are willing to hurt me just the same - only because I happen to belong to the same nation as the people you are having a political disagreement with.

        1. Hans 1 Silver badge

          Re: Russia is not a President Putin's nation ... not any more than the U.S. is Trump's

          @AC

          I agree, so upvoted. Then again, I think he was referring to the fact that Mr Putin has been in power for quite some time, that he has circumvented the constitution by pushing a poor bastard president with him PM at the reins, that he changed the constitution to allow him to stand indefinitely ... and that he and his entourage really control the Russian Administration and entire economy to an extent only seen in dictatorships ... so, he was exaggerating to make a point, just like I did above as well ...

    2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Re: President Putin's nation

      "Russia is not a President Putin's nation"

      Sure sure, it's not Putin's nation. No idea where that could have sprung from. It's not like Putin controls who is allowed on the election ballets, or that any opposition parties seem to run into massive legal and logistical problems, or that the media is state controlled, or that journalists get murdered for questioning the regime.

      It's not like Putin serves two terms, then becomes PM for a term, then back to being president. Or when asked what he'd like to do after being president, his reply is that he's not sure he's done being president just yet.

      We'll stop calling it Putin's Russia when he steps down as it's leader. Which is safe to say probably won't be until he dies. The smooth transition of power that is a hallmark of a democracy is, I suspect, going to be absent.

      I've said it before and said it again. No-one has any problem with Russia. People have a problem with the current regime in charge of Russia. It's a managed democracy, where only the "acceptable" candidates get to stand, and political opponents get imprisoned (or worse).

      Russia, the US, and anyone with a external spy service meddles with other countries elections. The change in Russian tactics post Magnitsky is to just try to fan the flames around divisive issues, essentially super trolling. Not aiming to get anyone particular elected, just plunge the country into a prolonged internal struggle that won't ever really resolve. Such as brexit, and the various eastern European nationalist movements.

    3. enormous c word

      Re: President Putin's nation

      It's true - nations tend to pull together an rally around even unpopular leaders when they feel intimidated and/or victimised. Look at all the instances where unpopular leaders used conflict to bolster their positions. Argentina / Falklands / UK, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, Cuba

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: President Putin's nation

      "The only thing these sanctions achieved was to prop up the regimes which most likely would have fallen by themselves without the US helpfully obliging by supplying a very visible and loud external threat."

      What makes you think that wasn't the intention?

      And that as a reciprocal action the loud threats from "certain cartoon characters" aren't used to prop things up in the US of A?

  9. Captain Obvious

    Well if they want to bring down the Russian Empire

    Shouldn't they be giving all this software to them for free? Just the bugs alone will drive them insane!

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Well if they want to bring down the Russian Empire

      "Just the bugs alone will drive them insane!"

      You know, I wouldn't put it past them to be able to fix most of them.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MS to Putin WINK WINK WINK we never said/did/admitted to anything

    MS is not blind, they knew or should have known these purchases were bogus. The phoney investigation will find little or no MS fault in this.

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