Thursday, December 15, 2022

"Amazon has been working closely with the Ukrainian government to download essential data and ferry it out of the country in suitcase-sized solid-state computer storage units called Snowball Edge"

Russ Mitchell for the LAT:

On Feb. 24, the day of the invasion, [the head of government transformation at Amazon Web Services] met for lunch with [the] Ukraine ambassador ... at the Ukraine Embassy in London.

They sketched out with pen and paper a list of the most essential data: the population register; land and property ownership records; tax payment records; bank records; education registries; anti-corruption databases, and more. The project involved 27 Ukrainian ministries, 18 Ukrainian universities, the country’s largest remote learning K–12 school serving hundreds of thousands of displaced children, and dozens of other private sector companies including Ukraine’s largest private financial institution, PrivatBank.

The Snowball units, in their ruggedized gray containers, were flown from Dublin to Krakow in Poland. Then the Ukrainians “spirited these devices over the border into the Ukraine”


The data, 10 million gigabytes so far, represent “critical information infrastructure. This is core for operation of the economy, of the tax system, of banks, and the government overall,” he said. The data also include property records whose safekeeping can help prevent theft of Ukrainian homes, businesses, and land.

Through history, invaders have “come in and staged fake referendum and parceled out the land to their chums,” said [the AWS representative]


Amazon didn’t have to worry about its relationship with Russia on the Snowball project. It doesn’t have one.