Russian President, Vladimir Putin, Still Uses the Outdated Version of Windows XP on His Office PC
One of the most bothersome parts of owning a desktop computer is the regular updates the machine requires. Oftentimes, the PC will start updates at the most inconvenient times. But everyone bears with it because we all acknowledge that technology is evolving every year and newer software is needed to ensure that our computers are kept safe and invulnerable to the latest viruses, malware, and hacks.
Some outdated operating systems may not even be able to update anymore, leaving them completely vulnerable to malicious content on the internet. So, this, begs the question – why is President Vladimir Putin of Russia still using Windows XP on his office PC? After all, Microsoft developed the OS in 2001 and stopped releasing updates for that software in 2014 already, making the operating system completely obsolete for 9 years. As such, it is defenseless against modern IT threats.
Has the Might of Russia got a Kink in the Chain?
Russia is considered one of the world’s premier superpowers. Ranked fifth in the world for the size of their army, Statista suggests they can drop around 830.9 thousand active troops on the ground at any time and have 250,000 reserves and 250,000 paramilitary troops able to deploy if need be. That takes their defense capabilities to close on 2 million personnel.
Along with their impressive military might, they are one of the most advanced nations when it comes to technology. They own some of the best fighter jets in the world and were the nation to put the first man into space, beating the Americans with the launch of the Vostok 1 capsule piloted by Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin. During the cold war, Russia and the USA developed some of the best espionage protocols and, as result, the best national security measures to protect their respective states.
You’d think that with that kind of knowledge and technology, it would somehow manage to work its way into every facet of Russia’s hierarchy. Yet, there are some seemingly fatal flaws in place in this regard, in the most unlikely places. In fact, there is a national security vulnerability in President Putin’s very own office. That’s because Vladimir Putin still seems to be using the outdated Windows Microsoft XP operating system on his personal PC in his office. While this became a hot topic in 2019, it seems that nothing has changed in four years, based on this video. Pay attention to his computer monitor.
What the Video Reveals
If you take the time to read the subtitles, you’ll notice that Putin is an organized leader that does not take well to tardiness – even from his highest-ranking staff. He demonstrates the boldness to take on the deputy prime minister in front of the cabinet and on live television. You can debate his tact all day long, but one thing is for sure – Putin is a taskmaster. So, I wonder how he would feel if you knew just what a national security risk sat on his desk. It begs the question – Is the IT department too scared to tell him that he needed an upgrade a decade ago? – Imagine their scolding! When questioned about the computer, Mikhail Klimaryov, head of Russia’s independent Internet Protection Society, confirmed that Putin’s computers were, in fact, running Windows XP.
One Plus One Does Not Equal Two Here
There has been a big push from the brass for Russia to disconnect from the internet altogether, with Putin having remarked that the internet was a “CIA project”. Couple that together with the fact that Russia has actively launched its own “M OS” system based on an Astra Linux kernel, and you’ll begin to work out that there is a bigger plan afoot here and that there is more to the Windows XP story than meets the eye.
Former British Military Intelligence Colonel, Philip Ingram, suggested that even being able to see Putin’s PC on camera was an interesting bit of misdirection. Now a journalist specializing in security and intelligence matters, he reported that there is a high probability that Russian intelligence is purposefully deceiving watchers. He says:
“The Russian messaging machinery is always very careful in images they release to the world, especially images of leading politicians and what is in the background of those images. That the computer screen was so clearly positioned within the photographs, would likely have been factored into the framing. The question is why the Russians would want to highlight that their computers are allegedly using a non-patched operating system? The bottom line is we are not sure if this is real.”
The specialist went on to say that the Russian military practice deception at every turn. They even term it maskirovka, which when translated to English, means “masking“. In other words, it could all be a giant masquerade, used to keep their technology a secret from the rest of the world.
But What if it Really is Windows XP?
At this level of government, it is fairly common for computers not to have a direct connection to the internet. Instead, they may only run on local area networks (LAN) instead. This is called “air gapping.” Because there is no contact with the outside world, the information remains rather safe.
Heightened Wartime Mind Games
There should be absolutely no question of the fact that Russia knows what they are doing on the cyber front. Their abilities were seen firsthand in Ukraine in early 2022 when they launched an all-out cyberattack on the country. It stopped the country’s top banks dead in their tracks. It was the key to destabilizing the nation before moving troops onto Ukrainian soil.
The race is on at the highest level, with China, Russia, and the US leading way forward with multiple technologies, including:
- Artificial Intelligence and machine learning
- Web software development and data processing
- Space travel/exploration capabilities
- Hypersonic weapons and arms
- Biotechnical and human enhancement
It is also well known that Russia is at the forefront of blockchain technology, which is proving very useful since they were cut-off financially by NATO. With all of this expertise, it does not sound like a country that would let its president’s computer compromise the national security of the nation. If he truly has Windows XP on his desktop, it must be for word processing alone. Or perhaps the president is a fan of Solitaire, Free Cell, and Minesweeper – top games that chief operating systems like Windows 10 and 11 sorely miss today.