Along with dozens of other companies complying with sanctions against Russia, Nokia suspended deliveries to clients in Russia on March 1. But it left behind software and equipment that can now be seen as aiding the war in Ukraine, according to the New York Times.
For many years, the Finnish network equipment-maker supplied Vimpelcom, Megafon and Tele2 in Russia, but a vast proportion of its business there came from MTS, Russia’s largest telecom service provider. Nokia provided equipment and services to link Vladimir Putin’s System for Operative Investigative Activities (SORM), to MTS, according to 75,000 company documents read by the Times.
“While Nokia does not make the tech that intercepts communications, the documents lay out how it worked with state-linked Russian companies to plan, streamline and troubleshoot the SORM system’s connection to the MTS network,” the paper says. “Russia’s main intelligence service, the FSB, uses SORM to listen in on phone conversations, intercept emails and text messages, and track other internet communications.”
The Times also indicates that Nokia was aware of what Russia was doing with the tech, which was worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the publicly listed company over many years. It is not by any means the only such business trading with the country, inadvertently helping in some way to spy on dissidents and political rivals.
The Times asked Andrei Soldatov, an expert on Russian intelligence and digital surveillance, to examine some of the Nokia documents. His conclusion: without the company’s…