Before Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, the country’s AI and IT sector relied heavily on Western technology and investment – but sanctions put major IT projects on hold.
Some 200,000 IT workers are said to have left Russia since the day of the invasion, February 24, as workers fled deteriorating economic conditions.
Russian media CNews announced that there were nearly 95,000 vacancies in its IT sector at the end of March after workers moved abroad. Since then, he says that the number of CVs is growing and vacancies are decreasing,
But at the same time, the share of candidates ready to relocate has surpassed 40 percent, with up to 45 percent of Russian programmers believing they are in favor of moving to Europe, according to Russian recruitment expert hh.ru.
Samuel Bendett, research analyst and AI expert, told Express.co.uk that Russia has historically been dependent on outside nations, including the West, for investments in its IT sector.
It now faces a steep loss of talent and investment as large foreign tech companies leave the country and sanctions cripple the economy. This is causing major headaches for advanced hardware development.
After invading Kiev, Bendett said Russia “recognized” it doesn’t have enough “highly educated people” in the sector or investment freedom in the same way as the US or Western Europe.
He explained how there was “international cooperation” in the sector, which Russia depended heavily on before the war, but which stopped “abruptly on 24 February”, which caused “many shortcomings to be exposed”.
In a recent lecture by the Institute of Security and Technology, Rita Konaev, an expert in security and technologies, said that funding for AI is an area that “will suffer immensely”.
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She added, “For AI and technology development in general, being such an international, open and globalized field, it’s really important to have open borders.”
Russia has a strong commitment to using AI in its military to help create lethal autonomous weapons and aid in intelligence gathering, but Bendett believes Putin’s “dream” of leading AI has now been “retroverted by a few years, or even a few decades”. “.
Yandex is one such Russian high-tech company that has faced severe consequences of sanctions and global investment loss.
Konaev said Yandex is “really taking a hit” as it is losing “international investors and relationships”, which will have significant consequences on what is “one of Russia’s top innovation hubs”.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin spoke recently about the need to attract young IT professionals to the sector and create the necessary conditions for them to work in Russia and not emigrate to other countries.
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However, the prime minister does not believe that all IT workers will leave the country and the borders will remain open for personnel to go out and work in other countries if they wish.
But Bendett told Express.co.uk: “This problem is recognized at the highest level. If the Russian prime minister is talking about IT brain drain, you know it’s a problem.”
Despite the obvious problems facing the sanctions industry and investment loss, it remains to be seen how much this will affect Russian civilians and the general Russian economy in the long term.
The AI and defense expert said that some Russian IT workers who emigrated early in the war are, in fact, starting to return because of difficulties with emigration, such as financial issues.
There is also some speculation that countries like India, Israel and China will increase their investment and cooperation in Russia’s IT and AI industries.